What you need to know about Self-Build


Self Build

 Top 10 Tips - Food for Thought

1.    Don't forget to arrange a 10 year warranty on your new home. This should be sorted out well before you start on site.  You will almost certainly need one if you need a mortgage.  If you don't need a mortgage you should consider a warranty anyway.  Whilst many self builders intend to live in their new homes forever, life sometimes isn't like that.  If for whatever reason you need to sell, and a prospective purchaser needs a mortgage, their bank or building society will want evidence of a new home warranty being in place. No warranty, no loan, no sale. 


    Try NHBC, or Premier (we understand there are others) for details of their home warranties, and just do a spot check to make sure it will be acceptable to a few of the major lenders.


2.     Always have a fixed price contract with tradesmen and avoid the dreaded "daywork rate" if you possibly can.  This should be easy enough with new build but is easier said than done with a conversion because tradesmen won't know exactly what to expect until they start work on each section.  A fixed price may then  be sky high because their minds will be working over-time with the problems they've encountered in the past.


3.    When trying to find tradesmen, try to work by recommendation from people who have used them before.  Good tradesmen often don't need to advertise. If you find good people they'll almost certainly know of other good trades that they're happy to be associated with.


4.   Things will go wrong.  You need a contingency fund to cope with un-foreseen costs,10% is a commonly quoted figure.


5.    You should be working to a time-table, however, rough.  The problem may be getting tradesmen to turn up when they're supposed to.  Usually, it's their previous customers that cause the delay.  It's a case of "while you're here, can you do this as well" or "we've changed our mind, can you do this instead".  All very well but it all adds time to their schedule.  Whilst you don't want to pester them, a couple of phone calls say 10 days, 5 days and the day before they're due to start will hopefully keep you in their mind, or at least give you some warning that it's not going to happen when you thought.


6.     Watch out for seemingly innocuous conditions in the planning approval.  If you don't understand ask some-one.  We've seen a condition which read something along the lines of " before occupation a BREEAM assessment will be required to confirm that Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3 has been achieved".  Before occupation is far too late.  The process needs to be started at the drawing board stage.


7.    Seriously consider employing a project manager.  Like any new venture, self build schemes are a very steep learning curve for those who haven't done it before, and above all are very time consuming.  It doesn't sit happily with trying to do a full time job as well.


8.   Time spent planning is not time wasted.  A design that is fixed at an early stage is easier for people to put an accurate price on.  Changes will cost you money.  And oh yes, we've heard of the couple who came back from holiday and decided they didn't like the colour of the wall tiles they'd chosen for their new bathroom and then had them changed, which meant taking out the bath, basin, toilet and bidet as well.


9.    Self build books are a must for background knowledge.  However, be wary of using old designs without checking to see how they will be affected by current regulations.  Whilst there are a whole host of requirements to be met, don't be caught out because what you want to build isn't green enough both in terms of predicted carbon dioxide emissions and other environmental impacts.


10.One year planning, one year building, two years to repair your marriage!