To buy or to build? If you are currently thinking about moving home, the option of building your own property is likely to have at least crossed your mind. Recent research conducted by the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) and the Building Societies Association (BSA) has revealed that one in three adults now aspire to building their own house.
Building certainly offers many advantages, from prime locations to bespoke design and cost savings. Despite this, it can be a complex and stressful experience. Choosing whether to build your own home certainly isn’t a decision to be made on a whim. With this in mind, we’ve put together some of the main considerations to bear in mind – to help you make the best choice for you and your family.
What are the advantages of building your own property?
- Location: One of the best things about building your own home is being able to choose exactly where you live. If you are in the lucky position of already owning a plot of land you love, building your own property will be an appealing prospect. Make sure you’ve thought carefully about your priorities however – are you looking for green fields, community atmosphere or a bustling city vibe? Construction projects can be undertaken almost anywhere, but the important part about your build is that it’s right for you.
- Bespoke design: Building your own property means that you are much more likely to get a design you love. When purchasing an existing property, you may have to compromise on layout or questionable interior decoration. When designing your own property (with the assistance of architects and builders), you can decide on the number of bedrooms, paint shades, type of staircase, window finishes – the list goes on!
- Tailored to your needs: As well as the design, you can make sure your home fits your exact needs. For instance, do you or a close family member have any mobility issues? What about young children with steep stairs or wonky garden paths? Pets needing access to the garden? Constructing your own property allows you to choose building materials and tailor the house to your unique circumstances.
- Budgeting: When purchasing a property, you are at the mercy of market forces – and may pay over the odds for a home. When building your own house, you can put plans out to tender, discuss your budget with your architect, tailor designs and even adjust as the project progresses. Finished homes are often worth over 20% more than the combined land and build costs, making it a sensible financial investment in the long term too.
- Enjoying a challenge: Whilst building your home certainly is a challenge – it is also a fantastic achievement. There is a feeling of emotional connection to a home that you’ve designed and seen through to fruition that you just can’t get with a straight-forward purchase. Building a house is always an engaging, fascinating process with plenty of lessons along the way.
- Energy efficiency: New-build homes (meeting all the latest energy standards) are more efficient and cheaper to run. Efficiency is not only kind to your wallet, but also to the environment – providing further satisfaction that your property is positively contributing to its surroundings. As an added bonus, you can also be sure that a new home won’t contain any materials such as asbestos, lead paint or mould.
What are the disadvantages of building your own property?
- Plots and Planning: It can be difficult to find the right location for your build. Even if you’ve found your perfect plot, gaining planning permission can be a lengthy, complex process. You’ll need to contact your local planning authority and make sure that you’ve complied with Building Regulations too. Do be aware that if the land you have chosen doesn’t already have services (such as electricity, drainage or road access), this will incur additional costs.
- Costs: Whilst building your own property can be a budget-friendly option, it does rely on a substantial amount of funding up-front. A good architect and main contractor will help you reduce costs – but there will also be unexpected issues. The more bespoke and unique your designs, the higher the costs, so do bear this in mind at planning stages.
- Timeframe: Building your own home famously takes more time than you think! Project schedules frequently overrun and there are myriad decisions. From choosing building materials to fielding enquiries from builders, designers and planners – carefully consider how much time you can invest. Or, use EV Architects to manage the entire project for you 🙂
- Site investigations: When building on a site for the first time, several investigations are required. These include aspects such as soil conditions (for stability, drainage and gas) as well as checking access, underground pipes, protected flora and fauna and other environmental issues. A qualified surveyor will advise on structural integrity, costs and planning permission, but there is always the possibility of unexpected problems arising.
- Bad builders: What happens if your main contractor lets you down half-way through the project or insists on astronomical fees? To avoid this, seek out several quotations for your build, ensuring that plans are as finalised as possible. Put them out to tender, thinking about reputation and reviews, communication and budget (not just the lowest price!). Make sure to have timescales and costs agreed in writing before starting any work.
- Risks and stress: Managing a build is undoubtedly a stressful experience. You will need to deal with multiple contractors, deadlines and trades simultaneously. Ultimately, you are also responsible for any risks or budgetary problems. Once the project has been completed, the snagging process can also be a stressful process – occasionally resulting in claims and disputes between owners and constructors.
Having weighed up all the pros and cons – if you’ve decided that building your own home is the right option for you – congratulations! Finding a good architect (like us!) is vital to the success of any project. From interpreting ideas into beautiful and budget-appropriate final designs, to helping with planning permission, liaising with builders and monitoring progress on site – the right architect is an invaluable asset. If you have questions about your build, our specialist team would be delighted to help.
Visit our New Builds and Self Builds service page to find out more information about our services.