01 Jul 2019

Getting your self-build ideas down on paper

Deciding to undertake a self-build project is a significant moment, however, translating grand ideas into a workable plan isn’t always as straightforward as it might seem. Here, Karen Curtin, Managing Director of Graven Hill, the UK’s largest self and custom build community, offers four key considerations that should be made by self-builders when considering creating their new home.


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Planning positivity

Although it is tempting to dive straight in, building a home is not quite as simple as choosing a plot and starting to build. There are a host of decisions that need to be made at an early stage in the initial planning permission process – these range from the height of the house and the required building materials, to the provision of utilities such as gas and water.

If for any number of reasons permission is rejected, a choice must be made between beginning the process again or looking for a better-suited plot elsewhere.

However, there are potential solutions in the form of self- and custom-build development sites such as Graven Hill, in Bicester. Here, the local planning authority has confirmed a Local Development Order, which clearly sets out the guidelines for every plot including the maximum height, the total size of the home, and even ground conditions. These guidelines are known as ‘plot passports’, and if followed correctly, the risk of rejection is significantly reduced, as is the time it takes for permission to be granted. Developments such as this can be a comfortable option for those unsure about committing to the challenge of a self-build.

A flair for design

The design process is arguably the most fun part of any self-build, as the vision starts to become reality. Self-building gives people the opportunity to create a home that suits them entirely, both in terms of appearance and functionality. The task of designing a bespoke home is one not to be taken lightly, so it is important to fully consider every design choice available.

Assessing which rooms get used the most is an ideal starting point when considering the layout. For instance, if the living room is used more than any other area, make it the most spacious. Likewise, if the kitchen is the true heart of the home, it is worth ensuring that it is designed for entertaining, with lots of seating.

When it comes to creating a dream home, the exterior matters just as much as the interior. Having a home that reflects the owner is part of the beauty of self-building, and individuality and style can be expressed both inside and out. This can be seen just by taking a stroll around the streets of Graven Hill, with each home truly personifying its owner.

Personality is paramount at Graven Hill – the village itself is split into character areas as diverse as the people who live there, and residents can choose the area that best suits them.

Ready for the future

By thinking ahead at the design stage, it is possible to build a home that can adapt to future lifestyle changes – something that cannot always be done in a conventional new build.

Open-plan living has grown in popularity in recent years. As well as being a way to maximise space, it also improves accessibility. Easy to open and wide enough for wheelchairs, sliding or pocket doors can provide a sense of separation while still maintaining flow, with the added bonus of providing flexibility as the years go by. Self-building also allows homes to be built without any internal load bearing walls, making layout alterations much simpler should accessibility needs change.

From making the home more open plan to adding in a downstairs bedroom, having such options available can ensure people are able to live in their perfect home for many years to come. One of the innovative residents at Graven Hill even installed a lift, enabling them to enjoy the stunning views from their top floor long into the future.

Financially sound

Financing a self-build can, on the surface, seem less straightforward than securing a conventional mortgage. However, specialist self-build mortgage advisors, such as BuildStore, are on hand to shine a light on the funding process and understand how the process works, as well as some of the challenges facing self-builders.

Advisors can suggest the best mortgage products for buyers to choose and ensure that projects are funded in a way that doesn’t put unnecessary pressure on the self-builder, whilst ensuring that adequate funds are available throughout the build.

Planning a self-build needs to start from the foundations up. It can take time, but by breaking the steps down into manageable pieces the process can be made far less daunting, resulting in a truly individual home to be proud of.

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