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Building a House: A Complete Guide

Do you have a dream to build a new house, but aren't sure where to start? Having a house built from scratch can seem like a long, daunting and complex process. However, with some know-how and expert assistance, you will be able to bring your dream home to life with a minimum of hassle. Read on to find out more.

How Much Will It Cost?

The first thing to bear in mind is the potential price of building a new home. Building a house will generally cost you between £1,000-3,000 per square metre, which is lower on average than you would pay per square metre to purchase an existing property. The cost will also depend on a number of different factors such as the geographical location of the plot (expect to pay significantly more in London and South East England), as well as size, layout and the general specifications for your new house. 

The savings offered by building your own home from scratch will average out at around 30%, but you can increase this if you’re able to take on more of the works yourself, especially if you happen to be a contractor with experience in plumbing and electrics, for example. The price will also be affected by the quality of the materials you choose. You can also reduce the cost per square metre by increasing the number of stories of the house; this will mean that you don’t require as large of a plot, and surprisingly, adding more floors doesn’t significantly increase the price. The expensive portions of a new-build property are the foundations and the roof, which you will need to build anyway regardless of how many floors you’d like the property to have. 

Financing a New Build Home

In order to finance your build, you have a number of different possibilities available to you. The first, of course, is to use any savings you may have. However, bear in mind that even though it is generally cheaper to have your own home constructed, this still represents a significant investment and potentially a significant portion of your savings. Depending on your financial situation, it may be advisable to look at different financing options. Bear in mind that you will also have to consider a variety of expenses including other professionals in the construction sector, such as land surveyors, as well as obtaining planning permission. 

A traditional mortgage isn’t set up for this type of project, but there are specialist new-build mortgage brokers that you can contact in order to secure funding for the project. These special mortgages intended for those choosing to build their own home will release funding at different stages of the project, which you will discuss with the bank as well as the building contractors you decide to hire. It is worth noting that if you decide to sell on your new-build property, these are generally very attractive for potential buyers, and can potentially net you a profit of up to 25% on your initial investment.

Buying a Plot

Once you have considered the financial aspects of your construction project, it is time to decide where you would like to build your new house and purchase the appropriate land for this purpose. There are many services at your disposition to find open plots of land; however, you also have the option of looking yourself around your local area on your own, such as driving around to see if there is any unused land in your local area. You can also contact local experts to see if there is anything available that fits your requirements. In addition, in many areas there are specialist companies that sell building plots at auction, which could potentially allow you to find a plot at a lower price. Nonetheless, make sure that the atmosphere of an auction doesn’t lead you to making a purchase you haven’t entirely thought through. Visit the plot before making the purchase, and check carefully to see if there are any potential issues. 

Regardless of the means by which you choose to find a plot, there are a number of aspects you should check before you decide to make a purchase. The first of these is to make sure that the planning permission for the land is not imminently going to expire. Also, make sure that you will be in absolute possession of the title deeds, and that services such as water, electricity and registration with the postal service are in place.

Deciding Your Role in the Project

Next, decide how much you personally would like to be involved in the project; the more of the build you are able to assist with, the more money you will end up saving. This of course will depend on your own skill level in DIY projects, as well as how much time you will be able to spend on the project, depending on your other potential commitments. Choosing to hire an architect will save you time and money throughout the project, as they can not only professionally design the building using their array of skills and expertise, but also make sure the construction process advances smoothly and on-schedule. 

It is best to decide early on how much involvement you would like to have with the project, as this will have significant implications on the cost of the work overall. If you are very experienced with DIY projects, and also have the time to work on your own construction project, participating in the work yourself can allow you to save a considerable amount of money. However, this option is not for everyone, and you do have numerous options to have the project managed on your behalf if you decide not to go down this route.

Design & Planning

The next part of the process is to design the house, and then use these designs as part of your application to your local planning authority. While an architect may not be legally required to draw up the plans, this is not where you want to cut corners. An architect will not only contribute creative ideas and solutions to help make your dream home a reality, but can also improve your comfort and quality of life by designing the perfect spatial layout and tailoring the design to your lifestyle. In addition, an architect can help you save a considerable amount of money, not only by anticipating problems and making the most of your budget, but also by reducing maintenance and energy costs to offer long-term savings.

Obtaining planning permission is the next step. An architect can also help guide you through this process and give you the best chances of getting your application approved. The cost of submitting a planning permission application itself for a new single home in England is currently £462 (this varies in the other constituent countries of the UK). However, this is the cost of the application to the planning authorities and doesn’t include the price of having the plans drawn up, of course. At numerous points throughout the construction process, a building inspector from the planning authority will examine the building works in order to make sure that relevant construction regulations are being adhered to. 

Hiring Contractors

Once planning permission has been taken care of, the next step is to decide which construction professionals you would like to work with on the project. If you hire the services of an architect, many already have a network of reliable contractors they regularly work with and will be able to arrange this for you. Another option is to contact your local network of friends and family to find reputable tradespeople, who have a good reputation in the local community. Make sure to get in touch with their previous clients to make sure that they received good service from the tradespeople in question. Be prepared to wait in order to get access to a good contractor; the ones with a good reputation in the area will tend to be busy, and may potentially be fully booked for months in advance. It is better to wait for the correct contractor, whom you feel comfortable with and can depend on, rather than going with one who happens to be available. Trustworthy contractors are well worth the wait, to ensure not only the quality of the work but also that your project is completed on time and on-budget.

Practical Details

Once you’ve found your contractors, the final decision is where you are going to live while the project is underway. Bearing in mind that the project is likely to last at least a year, make sure that any friends or family you ask to house you during this period will be aware and accepting of this. You also have the options of renting a place in the interim or staying in your existing property if you already own one. Renting another home is often the best solution, but can be an expense to take into account in the event that the works go on for longer than intended. 

Do you have a project in mind to build a new home? Get in touch with local architects near you specialised in new build houses on, to start bringing your dream home into reality!   

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