Self-build

 

Introduction

Building your own home, or finding a builder to do it for you, is obviously a huge project, unlike switching your mortgage to a building society, for example. But eventually, you could get yourself a home that suits you perfectly, for significantly less than you’d pay for an existing house (unless your plans are particularly extravagant) and without giving money to corporate developers.

You’ll have to do a lot of research, background reading and possibly training first, around land purchase and obtaining planning permission, as well as the actual design and build of your home.

Click here, here and here for introductory information and resources on building your own home, and here for introductory information on building a natural home.

 

What to do

1. Find land

As well as estate agents, land agents and word of mouth, there are databases, noticeboards and advice sites to help you find building plots. See here, here, here, here and here for some examples.

You can register your interest in self-build with your local authority; they are obliged to meet the demand for self-build, but they have to know who wants to do it.

You can also find a derelict property to renovate, rather than building from scratch.

Beware cheap land for which you are unlikely to obtain permission to build.

However, if you’d like a smallholding, and to work the land as well as build a home on it in the open countryside, see our land section.

 

2. Get planning permission

See here, here and here for more information on obtaining planning permission; and if you’d like to obtain planning permission for a home on a smallholding in the open countryside, see here.

 

3. Design and build

Find a contractor: this is also known as ‘custom build’, where you work with an architect and/or builder, rather than getting your hands dirty yourself. Ideal if you don’t have the necessary skills or time to self-build. See here and the links above for more.

Build yourself: if you want to utilise your skills and save money by doing the building work yourself, see the links above and read up here. And here’s an account of a self-build of a timber house in woodland in the south-west of England.

If you’re interested in natural building, see here for a range of different techniques, from straw-bale, cob or timber to earth-shelters, rammed earth or stone. For each method, there is a specialist who will answer your queries, and a directory of courses for self-builders, and of contractors for custom-builders.