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  • Lisa Gardener

7 Self Build Myths: Busted!

Myth: You're bound to go over budget

Truth: Not necessarily

Budgets for construction work are complicated things, and cost overruns certainly do happen. But usually they happen for positive reasons: the self-builders agree so-called "elective" extras, which means a change to the original design, or choice of materials, or extra work here or there. It's an overrun, but if it's all agreed and transparent, then it's not a problem. The overruns you don't want are when they aren't agreed and come as a surprise once a bill is submitted. So with good planning, and a project that has decisions made upfront and kept to, overruns are far from inevitable.

Myth: It's only for the rich

Truth: It helps, but isn't essential

Whilst some self-builders spend eye-watering amounts building their own mini-places the average self-builder spends a little over £1,300/m² on their new, bespoke home. If you're building an average four bedroom home of, say 160m² that's a build spend of £208,000. In areas where house prices are high, so is the cost of building plots: but many self-builders buy plots for between £80,000-200,000 across the UK. Simply put, if you can afford to buy a new house from a developer, you can afford to self-build. Building your own home is in fact cheaper, as you'll be keeping the profit the developer makes for yourself.

Myth: You'll never get planning permission

Truth: Do your research to avoid disaster

Getting planning consent can be very straightforward, as long as you do your homework. It all depends on the individual plot and where it is situated. Local authorities are more inclined to grant approval to individual homes than they have been in decades - and the attitudes towards styles have changed, too. Many people build very modern homes in village conservation areas - so don't assume the worst.

Myth: You'll get ripped off by your builder

Truth: Cowboy clients are more common than cowboy builders

Tales of "cowboy builders" have been amplified by the media because they're a good story - but they certainly don't reflect 99% of the building trade, which is hard-working, honest and reliable. There is always the occasional tradesman you won't get on with - but as with any profession, there are some who are more customer-friendly than others.

Myth: Timber frame homes won't last

Truth: They're the most heavily engineered buildings of all

Some of the oldest buildings still standing in the UK are in fact timber framed. Centuries of engineering and science have gone into ensuring that timber frame homes are not just as good as any other in terms of stability, longevity and performance, but that they exceed these standards.

Myth: It will take ages

Truth: Allow 18 months start to finish

This is what a typical schedule looks like. In most cases it will take around 6 months for design and planning. Planning itself will take at least 8 weeks and 10-12 is more typical. Once this has been done, you can then go ahead and build: which, thanks to speedy timber frame construction, will take between 6-9 months in most cases.

Myth: Why would you self-build when you can buy a new home from a developer?

Truth: Because they're completely different types of house

There's no doubt - it's easier to buy a new home from a developer than have one built for you. And, if you intend to build a new home that replicates the look and quality of a standard developer home, then you probably are best served doing just that. But self-builders choose to build their own homes because they want attractive, individual design - a home suited to their particular tastes, usually on bigger plots and in a nicer setting - and a choice in terms of high quality specification and finish quality. By controlling the build process, you as the end user can control quality - and who wouldn't want that?


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