Don’t buy a house. Build a house

Building your own home could be the affordable way for you to live in the place of your dreams. Dig out your inner Grand Design-er and it’ll be the Joneses who’ll need to keep up with you. . .

The benefits of BIY (build it yourself)

As well as swerving the dreaded house search, a self-build provides the opportunity to design a bespoke space that suits your lifestyle, is energy efficient and environmentally friendly, and it reflects your individual taste. If this sounds good to you, then it may be your best option, as due to the housing shortage, the government has made moves to support and encourage self-builders.

But is it cheaper?

To work out the cost effectiveness, search for local houses akin to your dream property. Then, work out if you could build a replica for less than the purchase price and renovation costs – this takes time and effort, but helps you to make a sound decision. By planning meticulously, and managing your project properly, the house you build should be worth significantly more than its construction costs, so you can snag your ideal home for a fraction of the market price.

Pick a plot

If it does work out cheaper and you’re ready to get started, you’ll need a plot of land to build your house on. Contact local landowners, visit land auctions and put out requests on social media and local noticeboards saying you want to acquire a building plot. Estate agents are also great to talk to, as they should have properties suitable for demolition and redevelopment listed on their books. Plotfinder.net, a UK land and renovation finding service, has its own advice centre with plenty of tips and advice.

Finding the finance

Self-builders need full planning permissions or an outline plan (from a local council) to apply for initial funding, along with a designated project manager and a budget, including a breakdown of detailed costings. As a rule of thumb, self-builders can only borrow around 75% of the land cost, and 60% of the build cost, so you’ll need a sizeable deposit. The main difference between a standard and self-build mortgage is that the money is released in stages as your build progresses. Also, mortgages for self-builds tend to be interest-only. You can learn more about mortgages in our helpful video.

Budget rules

A successful self-build depends on your budget being sacred: forget what you’ve seen on Grand Designs and keep tight control over your purse strings. Your designer, builder and anyone else involved must stick to your budget – which is an ongoing concern: manage and respect it on a daily basis or costs can spiral. Check in with them weekly to make sure that everything is going well and keep a tight rein on any expensive flights of fancy!

Support along the way

If you’re undertaking a BIY project, the Self Build Portal is a great resource. Produced by the National Custom & Self Build Association (NaCSBA) and endorsed by the Government, it’s packed with useful tips for self-builders, including inspiring case studies and information on everything from finding land to health and safety requirements.

Searching for your dream home can be a thankless task. With house prices through the roof, finding an ideal yet affordable property can feel impossible, not to mention stressful. So if you have the vision, the ambition and a little bit of patience maybe the time is right to think about building your dream house.