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How to Build Your Dream Home from Scratch

Ever watched Grand Designs, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition or any other property development show on TV and thought “I can do that”?

You’re definitely not alone. All across the country families are taking to designing, building and living in their dream home. But it’s not something to be undertaken lightly, one wrong move could spell disaster putting the project or your finances at risk.

That’s why we’ve put together this article detailing 10 steps to make sure your house building project goes to plan.

Step 1 – Clear the land

The first step is to check with your local council whether any planning permission is needed for your new home. It’s not uncommon to need planning permission for a house, even if the property you plan to build on is in the open countryside, and it’s important to get this sorted as soon as possible.

If you need planning permission, it can take up to six weeks to get permission in place for a new build property. The easiest way to get permission is to talk to your local council and explain what you plan to do. It’s very rare that you will be asked to supply architectural plans or to create a formal application – just a quick chat should do the trick. Be warned, if you don’t get permission you can still build a house on the land, but it will fall into the category of ‘unauthorised development’ and you could face a hefty fine for any violations (particularly if you then go on to sell the house).

Step 2 – Get the right skills

Once you’ve cleared the land and got the planning permission, it’s time to get your project underway. For most people, this will mean using the services of a builder and contractor.

A builder will handle the construction of your new home from the foundations up, and a contractor will manage the plumbing, electrics, plastering, decorating, flooring and so on.

You can certainly do the work yourself, but we recommend you get professional help. You’ll save yourself money and you’ll definitely get a better result.

Be clear from the outset whether your builder will work with a contractor or whether you’ll be hiring one separately. The bigger firms can provide you with a preferred contractor so you’re working with one team and, if you decide to hire the builder you’ll have to be sure that the subcontractors on the work are up to scratch.

Step 3 – Get planning

Once you’re happy with the builder and/or contractor you’re going to work with, it’s time to get your plans in place. The plans will detail all the specifications of your dream home – the layout of the rooms, the number of bedrooms, the dimensions of the kitchen – everything.

If you’ve used a designer or architect to create your plans or have your own plans drawn up, make sure you check them thoroughly. It’s very easy to make a mistake when you’re ordering a property plan and your architect or designer needs to ensure that the plans you’ve chosen will work for the site you’ve got. They’ll look for things like ensuring that there’s enough space for the foundations of your house, that the building will comply with planning regulations regarding density, that the roof will be strong enough to support the size of the property you’re building, and so on.

If you’re planning on having a loft conversion or garage conversion, then you’ll have to get loft and garage plans drawn up – you can’t build something in the loft or garage without first getting planning permission and drawings from a qualified architect.

Another thing to plan for is to make sure that you can get home insurance for your completed build. You can speak to a specialist broker like one sure insurance for this who will be able to advise what insurers offer policies on non-standard or self-builds.

Step 4 – Buying the right materials

The next step is to get your materials in place. This is a big one, because it’s the budget that can blow out by the most.

When it comes to materials, it’s going to be very different from project to project. You want to be sure that you’re using materials that are durable, will stand the test of time and won’t end up costing you a fortune to replace in a few years.

There are literally dozens of different building materials you’ll need to consider, from the windows to the roof tiles. You can gauge the quality of the material by asking yourself:

– Will it stand the test of time?

– Is it easy to repair if it needs to be repaired?

– How much will it cost to have it repaired (if it needs to be repaired)?

– Can it be replaced when it needs to be replaced?

– Is it cheaper to buy the materials than it is to buy the finished item?

You get the idea…

If you’re building a house, you’ll need to have the foundations laid first, then the walls, then the roof and so on. You can hire out a skip for a day or two to take away all the waste material and dirt from the house building site, but you’ll also need to transport your materials to the site as well.

Step 5 – Plan for the worst

This is an important step which almost every homeowner overlooks. It can be very easy to forget that building a house from scratch is an expensive business, even if you’re only building a two-bedroom starter home.

It’s essential to have enough money to cover all the costs of building your home, including paying builders, buying all the materials and paying any subcontractors that you’ve decided to use.

This is another reason why it’s a good idea to get professional help, as not all building firms will provide you with a lender or specialist lender to take care of the house building finance.

It’s possible to self-build with your money, but there is a greater risk of not having enough money to cover costs, especially as house building projects can grow arms and legs pretty quickly if just one element of the project doesn’t go to plan.

Step 6 – Enjoy Your New Home

With the tips listed above you should be able to get your dream house built without too many hiccups. Then you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your careful planning, hopefully sipping an ice cold drink looking out at a beautifully landscaped garden.

Remember that if anything does go wrong your labourers and suppliers should have given you warranty on both the materials and workmanship for at least a year. So don’t hesitate to pick up the phone should something need tweaking.