A self build project can be both exciting and very hard work. Buying the plot for your dream home is only the start of the journey and this alone needs careful consideration before parting with money.
1. The Small Print
What is being offered with the plot package? Don’t just hand over your money for the plot as you may find that you have agreed to certain conditions hidden in the small print that are both costly and affect the build of the house. Always go to a solicitor who understands the requirements of a self builder.
2. Access to Drains and Sewers
How far away is your access to the sewer system? Never take the seller’s word that you can enter the sewer in his ground or that it is in the road in front of your plot. Even in built up areas accessing a sewer can be both a problem and very costly. Speak to the water authority for your area and also the planning department at the council and obtain plans of the sewer network in your street. Having to run any length of sewer pipes and opening the road can take time and adds thousands to your building budget. Another option is to have a septic tank in the garden but again it is not always an option if there isn’t adequate space for it and for the lorry that arrives to empty the tank.
Gas, electricity, water and telephone connections may be taken for granted but are they available. Not many plots come with these services already in situ. Adding each of these services to your building plans add thousands to the build if you have not done your homework properly.
4. The House
The house you plan to build must suit your lifestyle and your needs. There is no pleasure in building a house that is too small for a growing family or too large that you are unable to heat or take care of. Also check with your planning officer that the house you want would not be refused planning permission. Perhaps that is why the plot was for sale in the first place?
Does the plot actually have planning permission? Before signing on the dotted line make an appointment to speak to the planning department and go over what has actually been passed for the plot. Did you want to change the plans? Outlying planning permission does not automatically mean that you are going to be allowed to change the plans for a larger or different style of house.
If you have near neighbours to the building plot visit them and make your intentions known before purchasing the plot. Animosity or local problems can then be considered before the plot is yours rather than afterwards.
7. Your Lifestyle
Are you going to build the house yourself or perhaps supervise it? Do the plans fit in with your lifestyle? What about your job, can you fit in a working week and also be at the site to work on the house projects? It’s easy to say yes on a warm sunny day when discussing dreams whilst drinking wine in the pub garden. Take yourself forward to the day when you have to meet deadline on the building site and there is snow on the ground. It’s not such an idyllic dream then is it?
8. The Family
Do your partner, children and parents share your dream? This can take a year out of their lives and affect their social lives as well as work and school commitments. Sit down with close family before any contracts are signed and go over every part of the self build listing the pros and the cons of the project.
Ensure that you have access to funds to cover the build. Plan to have an extra 15 to 20% available to cover any eventuality. Selling your home and living on site during the build will free up money that will not attract interest charges as it would if you took out a loan or mortgage. Make contingency plans in case your lender lets you down.
10. Living the Dream
Remember that your self build project should be enjoyed. At the end of the build you should have a home that is designed to your liking and the value should be higher than the cost of the build. Self building does move one up the home ownership ladder faster than simply buying and selling property but you must remember that you need the stamina and nerve to carry you through the self build process.