Why Self Build Should Be On Your Bucket List

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This is something that the British Government is encouraging at the moment in an effort to get an increase in the number of houses built. So do it because the Government says so? Probably not!

I can think of far better reasons to Self-Build!

Let’s have a look at professional reasons first, shall we? We’re all involved in the building game in some way or another. Starting from the beginning that’ll include clients, architects, and engineers, Consultants, QS’s, Town Planners & Building Control, Site Management and Tradesmen. Most will be pretty good at what they do. Sadly, you won’t all be like me what like is perfect and knows everything, like, innit!

If we look at a house we can see that it is a pretty simple structure in the scheme of things but it does have most of the components of even the biggest structure short of major civils work.

Now, whatever our role in the complex team game that is construction, to Self-Build will give some experience and a far deeper insight and understanding of all other roles simply because we have to have a go at doing them ourselves! It can add immensely to our competence and ability to play with the Team! The exception to all the above is interior design. If your household-hierarchy is anything like mine, you’ll be allowed no input on that! – (assuming you are the man in the house!) Probably the two best Interior Designers I’ve actually worked with have actually been women.

Starting out your Self-Build programme you’ll have to find a suitable site. Bit of geo-technics required, along with picking the brains of any local builders you find working in the area, plus a good guess as to what you’d be allowed to build followed by sums as to whether or not it would be a viable proposal. If it would, then it finds a financial institution willing to finance it. Then it is you have to start coming up with broad ideas of what we would like to build before instructing an architect who, once you approve his plans, has to get Detailed Planning Permission and Building Control Approval. Once they are obtained it is time to change hats from Client to Builder!

Big decisions coming up! Who is going to do what for the actual build? Are you going to get your hands dirty? What work is a contractor going to do? Is he to be the Main Contractor or just a Subbie to you or are you going to employ tradesmen for the bits you can’t do yourself?

 Plant; Welfare Facilities; Fencing; HSE Notification HSE Notices; all sorted? Good!

 Now start digging holes for the services – and book the Utilities to attend – along with foundations/slab. Stick up the structure of your house, make it weather-proof and start the fit-out. First thing is the walls; plasterboard them, let the joints dry out and slap emulsion where appropriate. Bathrooms and kitchens take up most of the money spent on fit out. In fact, go mad and they can cost more than it does to build the house! – our kitchen would have done if I hadn’t put all the work in myself!

Services! Electrical wiring; water pipes; central heating pipes and boiler; gas pipes; data cabling; maybe even aircon. Fit out the bathroom and silicon-seal all around. Tile it. Fit out the kitchen with more silicon sealant and more tiles. Final fix mechanical and electrical, then down on hands and knees! Lay vinyl flooring in bathroom and kitchen followed by carpet or laminate flooring where required. After that just hope you have thought ahead in terms of the seasons, because you are going outside!

Get all the waste stuff hauled away and Welfare facilities removed. Prepare the substrate and import topsoil front and rear. Paths, drive, fences, walls, steps, lay turf and plant whatever your Boss tells you wants planting where!

Somewhere in between finishing inside and out, you’ll need Building Control to give you a Certificate of Habitation and an Insurer to give you a Decennial Warranty. Once you have both then it is time to find a mortgage lender and get the original loans for the build paid off. Great! A lot cheaper money! You’ve had a go at everything in the building game from Conception to Hand-over! You’ll be moving in very soon now!

Okay, there are a couple of reason here for doing your bucket list Self-Build. The first is personal; you’ve got your dream home for a lot less money than it would have cost to buy it from a developer. The second is professional. You have learnt a lot, lot more about what the whole construction project team does together with their individual expert input. That will make you a far better team player yourself once you are back in the work place. There is another, equally important thing, you’ll have learnt; a bit of intellectual humility! Doesn’t matter how well experienced, educated and/or qualified you are, someone knows more about everything than you do!

Now GenieBelt have asked me, out of the kindness of my heart, to come up with a Detailed Programme to Completion for building a house. Ask them and they’ll let you have a copy. You’ll have to put in the timescales yourself, but all the Tasks are there in a suitable order.

Tell us about your self build experiences. We would love to hear some stories…

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