Self-Building 101: Everything You Need To Know

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Building your dream home can often only be done completely from scratch; and its no mean feat! Planning, designing and constructing your residence from the ground up is a big job and if you’re considering it, start right here. Once the foundations of knowledge have been laid, the beams of home can begin to be laid.

What qualifies as a Self Build Project?

A Self Build is the name given to a property project where an individual commissions a house to be built on a piece of land that they own, for them then to live in. Usually the homeowner would maintain control over the build (although often with the help of a project manager and architect) and help form the house to fit their specific requirements. Self Build as a term is often used interchangeably with Custom Builds, but these are not the same thing. A Custom Build is a much more hands-off approach with less accountability and management required.

What’s a Self Build Scheme?

The UK is a little behind in terms of Self Build homes – believed to be because of the plethora of existing residential developers as well as the sheer expense of enacting such a project. Elsewhere in the world, almost 50% of all new houses are built ‘Self Build’ and so the British government is attempting to increase the amount of such projects here by creating finance schemes to support them. The Help To Build Scheme alongside such programmes as Self Build Wales are specifically-formed schemes to support homeowners embarking on self build projects.

How much does a Self Build cost?

Every self build house is different and the size and scope of every project will come with numerous variables that affect the costs vastly. On average, the initial build fee depends on the square metre of the structure; although at between £1,000 - £3,500/m², there is still a wide scale of variation. Other considerations that will impact on costs include locations, plot size, plan and layout, number of storeys, involvement of professionals, and specification.

Can I sell a Self Build and make a profit on it?

Of course, a self build property can be sold for profit just as any other home can be, market permitting. The difference in creating a self build house to sell is that the initial investment is usually made much closer to the sale than that of a traditional property sale, where you’d be likely to live in the home for several years first. In relation to building costs, self builds have been known to make as much as 25% profit in the final value of the home – and often push buyer’s budgets a little higher than other properties due to their uniqueness.

Is it cheaper to buy, or to Self Build?

If a self build is constructed well and sold when the market is at a high, the profit could be vast; so technically you will get more house for your money than a straight standard purchase. However, this is reliant on market conditions. Self build mortgages are much less widely available than more traditional financing options and so for many, it may work out more expensive or unobtainable to self build at all. Custom builds tend to fill this gap but again, these aren’t for everyone.

How do homeowners fund Self Builds?

Normally, a homeowner will own a plot of land and build their new home upon it. In most cases, this land will already be in the ownership of the individual developing the property but if it is not, they will likely need to have access to money in order to purchase it as well as to pay for architect’s fees and designer’s costs. Once the build has been planned, this too must be funded – either through savings, equity in an existing property or through a self-build mortgage.
Most self build mortgages are supplied through specialist providers, but there are a few high street lender options available for those with existing financial products and investments. These mortgages tend to follow either an arrears or advance-type structure, with the former being found more commonly. An arrears mortgage requires the initial construction funding to be fronted by the individual before paying it back at the end of each building stage, but the latter funds each stage before it happens – albeit it at a much less favourable rate.

How can I find a suitable Self Build plot?

The cheapest option for a self build is to construct on land you already own, but if you’re looking for a plot, there are a few options. Specialist plot-finding services do exist and often offer the ‘first dibs’ on land but these services do come with a fee. However, registering with the relevant local authority also allows for them to contact you as and when something appropriate comes up – and they must keep track of the demand for serviced plots in their area. At the same time, keep an eye on local auctions and spread the word through family and friends that you’re looking to help ensure you’re kept abreast of new opportunities as they arise.

Once a plot’s been found, what issues should be considered before a Self Build begins?

There are considerations to be made in regards to self build plots, and homeowners need to be aware of these before they embark on any new projects. These include (but are not limited to):
- Planning permission that is due to expire before or during the planned project period
- Access issues
- Covenants
- Services and infrastructure
- Title deeds.

Who’s best to work with on a Self Build?

Who you work with on a self build is entirely personal choice, but there can be a lot of researching and ‘hiring and firing’ to do if you recruit every professional individually. Instead, consider working with a qualified team who will manage the whole process for you… just like Refresh Renovations!

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For help and advise on your self build project, get in touch today for a free no obligation talk with the team!

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