07 Mar 2016

Get your self-build project off to a flying start

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Is this the year you finally build your dream timber frame home? Hayden Martin, Managing Director of Fleming Homes, offers his top 10 tips for getting your self-build project off to a flying start in 2016.

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It’s a fact that self-building can be a daunting process. Equally true is that it can be rewarding, empowering and exhilarating! The growing number of self-build projects commencing year on year is testimony to the fact that the majority of individual self-build homes are a complete success. The following article has been written to help ensure your project becomes yet another success story and gets off to a flying start with our top ten tips.

1. Understand the figures

Understanding the cost of a self-build project is critical, as is making an assumption on your likely return on investment. The first step should be defining your maximum budget and understanding what you can achieve with it. This will determine whether self-building is the right option for you.

Top Tip: Use our costing guidelines to assist with this process and relate your budgeted figures to our sample designs within our design brochure. This will give you a clear idea of the size/type of home that is relative to your budget.

2. Seek financial advice

Now you know what you can achieve for your budget, get confirmation from a professional. Speak to a financial advisor to discuss funding the project and engage with a local estate agent to determine what the likely value of your proposed development will be.

Top Tip: Speak to self-build specialists Buildstore. They specialise in funding self-build projects so the information you receive from them will be up to date and relevant to self-building.

3. Educate yourself

Knowledge is king. There are a lot of things to consider when building your own home. You don’t have to have all the answers but it is important that you have a base understanding of the core elements of a self-build project. We’ve touched on costs and funding options, now seek information on build methods, design procedures, project stages, U-values, timeframes, build routes, planning procedures, and so on.

Top Tip: Attend self-build shows, visit websites, read magazines; anything and everything that will give you insight and help inform your decisions. Then speak with a self-build specialist like Fleming Homes!

4. Identify and acquire your plot of land

One of the first stages in the process, it is advisable to visit as many plots as you can and it helps to try to visualise the final product (as opposed to a beaten up piece of land). Consider the planning conditions and ensure the observations noted are aligned with your aspirations.

Top Tip: Use our Finding Plots resource for useful information on how to go about finding land. It’s also worth considering existing properties that could be knocked down and re-developed from scratch. This process often presents options in better suited locations and can have less onerous planning conditions.

5. Consider your build method

This should be one of the first design decisions you make. The design of your new home should be directed by the method in which it will be built; this will not only maximise the performance of your home but could lead to significant cost savings.

Top Tip: Engage with specialists in your chosen build method, whether you use an architect or the design services of a manufacturing company. Their level of expertise in your chosen build method will positively impact your design and ensure you get more bang for your buck.

6. Build your team

Self-building is a big undertaking. You will need a good team on your side that will help you realise your individual objectives of the build. Select your team on skills and experience, but also consider the personal relationship you are likely (or unlikely) to establish with the people involved.

Top Tip: Meet with your proposed team as much as you can before committing. Put them through their paces before making a commitment to see how well they respond to your individual requirements.

7. Start your design

The design of your home is the epicentre of the project and arguably the most important aspect of self-building. There are two main ways you can approach this; use an architect or utilise the in-house design services of a manufacturing company. There are pros and cons of both design routes and you will need to decide which route suits your needs the best.

Top Tip: Regardless of which route you take it is vitally important that you are the driving force behind the design. Ask yourself; is this designer going to realise my individual objectives? Professional input from a designer is essential, but not to the extent that it becomes their design and not yours. Each self-build project is different; what suits one person is completely different from the next.

8. Consider planning and building regulation routes

This will be relative to the decision you make on the design process. This process can be architect lead or manufacturer lead. You could also engage with planning consultants or design technicians which can potentially lead to cost efficiencies.

Top Tip: Understand the options first before being lead down a path of no return. Consider the benefits of using an architect against the benefits of using other methods. Try and assess this in terms of overall value and select the route which ticks the most boxes for your individual project circumstances.

9. Be on the team

Strive to be the most valuable player on your self-build team. By now you will be surrounded by a dedicated team of self-build professionals but don’t leave it all to them. Keep at the forefront and manage the process to ensure you have complete authority at every step of the way. Remember, out of all the members of your team you will be the only one living in the final product.

Top Tip: Be organised. Log, file, record, detail, manage as thoroughly as you can to keep up with the pace of your project at all times. At the very least keep a file to document proceedings and log key decisions that have been made or need to be made. Keep a record of all transactions on a spread sheet and be sure to keep all receipts; you will need them at the end of the project.

10. Enjoy yourself

Of course self-building can be stressful, but it can also be exhilarating. For many, a self-build project is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We say make the very most of it. What you get out of the process will be relative to what you put in.

Top Tip: Remember that the very high majority of self-build projects are a complete success. It’s the reason self-building is so popular. Become another testimony to the benefits of self-build and put your heart and soul into your own unique project along the way.

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