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A clear vision of what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, who is going to do it and what it is going to cost is essential. You should always include a contingency – at least 10% of your overall budget is prudent.
This money should only be used for unexpected costs during the project, such as additional foundation requirements or unavoidable delays. If you still have the contingency at the end of the build, you can consider upgrading interior finishes or landscaping schemes
Finding a suitable building plot can take time and patience, however, online resources such as Plotsearch are a good place to start. Estate agents can also be helpful, but you will need to contact them regularly to keep your name front of mind.
In areas of high house prices, it may be worthwhile purchasing a poor quality house and then demolishing it to create a building plot. For example, some areas have poorly built bungalows on fairly large plots surrounded by larger houses. However it’s always worth speaking to the local planning office to gauge their attitude to this type of development.
It’s advisable to obtain a survey of the land. Your solicitor will be able to report on any issues concerning the suitability of the land for purchase including:
One of the most exciting stages of building your own home is the opportunity to have some input in the design. We all have our own ideas of how we would like our home to look and feel, but only a few of us will enjoy the chance to actually participate in the design.
Design is one of the most crucial elements in building your home and time should be taken to learn the various options that you have in terms of style, materials, heating, insulation etc. in order that you can incorporate as many of your own ideas into the plans as possible, bearing in mind your budget, the feasibility of your ideas and the wishes of the local planning authority.
Most self builders will want to appoint a qualified and experienced architect to follow their brief and design the house. An architect can support the whole project, handling statutory requirements such as planning permission and building regulations.
The costs of architectural services will vary according to the level of involvement, and you should negotiate a fee at the very beginning and have the fee and what it covers confirmed in writing.
Some Architects are members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (R.I.B.A.), but all working in the UK must be registered with the Architects’ Registration Board (www.arb. org.uk). Qualified Architectural Technologists also provide services in helping with house design, contact the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (www.ciat.org.uk) for further details.
Many first time self builders choose to use a package company to guide them through the design and build process. These companies usually offer customisable standard houses as well as a bespoke design option.
Other self builders prefer to use an architect and main contractor or professional project manager. Many like to project manage the build themselves, with a view to saving money by keeping a close eye on labour and materials.
The main self build construction options in the UK
Some lenders may only consider certain construction types, so it’s important to check with your lender.
Timber frame buildings are very popular with self builders and growing in market share among commercial developers in England and Wales. Oakwrights is one of the leading providers of oak frame buildings visit www.oakwrights.co.uk for further information.
Brick and Block
The most conventional commercial building method in the UK, with an inner skin of concrete blocks, an outer skin of facing bricks and a layer of insulation between the two.
This self-build construction option is popular in the US but rare in the UK. This option will almost certainly require you to purchase a kit on a supply and fit basis and your choice of design will be limited to those offered from the kit manufacturer.
Alternative Building Methods
These include Beco, Styrostone, Structured Insulated Panels (SIPs) and timber clad.
Incorporating energy efficient features is often a priority for self builders. Some mortgage providers offer a self build mortgage with a special discounted rate which recognises investment in energy efficiency.
Early contact with the planners is the best way to establish whether your project is viable. Most local authority planning departments offer ‘pre-application advice’ (some will charge for this service). This can help you get a strong idea of what your planning officer will and won’t accept in terms of general style, size and any materials stipulations. It’s a great way to make sure you stand the best chance of getting planning permission when you come to submit your application.
When you locate a suitable plot of land make sure you have obtained Outline Planning Permission (OPP) before committing to the purchase. OPP is simply permission for the principle of development on a site. This means that the details of the size, dimensions, materials and access can be decided at a later date. If a plot is granted OPP, you will still need to make a supplementary application for full planning permission at a later date and no building work can be undertaken on OPP alone. OPP status is usually valid for three years at which point re-application will need to be made.
Next you will need to lodge the plans with your local authority planning department to obtain detailed planning permission and building regulation approvals. Your local authority will charge for these services as they will need to send out an inspector to view the plot to assess the suitability as well as release details of your application so that objections can be lodged.
The details of the planning charges and the separate building inspection charges can be obtained from your local council. A fee calculator is available on the Government’s online planning and building regulation resource www.planningportal.gov.uk. The council should decide on your application within 8 weeks.
Detailed Planning Permission/Full Planning Permission (FPP) outlines exactly what is going to be built including dimensions, room layouts and building materials. As soon as FPP is granted building work may commence. Sometimes conditions of approval will be attached and these must be complied with during the project. Detailed planning permission is valid for three years.
In most instances a simple planning application never goes to a planning committee and instead is decided at officer level. This is followed by a period of public consultation about the application. The extent of this will depend on the impact of the development and the type of area but it will always include local neighbours. This process normally lasts 3 weeks.
Once the local authority has received all the necessary responses, the planning officer will assess the proposal against the local authority planning policies. The planning officer will then make a decision regarding the application or a recommendation for the planning committee.
If there is a problem with your application, the Planning Officer may contact you to try and resolve it. If it is refused, you will need to re-submit an amended proposal or appeal against the decision.
Most building projects have to comply with building regulations. For example, you will need to comply if you put up a new building, extend or significantly alter an existing one (eg converting a loft space into a living space).
You may also need to comply if you want to install services or fittings in a building, such as replacement windows, toilets, sinks, or hot water cylinders, or if you change the use of a building, since the new use may mean it does not comply with the appropriate regulations.
If you are unsure whether the work you want to do needs to comply, contact the building regulations department of your local council. They will also be able to advise you about the requirements that apply to the work you want to carry out and what procedures you need to follow.
The primary responsibility for complying with the regulations belongs to the person carrying out the building work. So if you are carrying out the work personally the responsibility will be yours.
If you are employing a builder the responsibility will usually be that firm’s, but make sure you confirm this position at the very beginning. If you are the owner of the building, it is ultimately you who may be served with an enforcement notice if the work does not comply with the regulations.
Complying with building regulations is a separate matter from getting planning permission for your work. In the same way, receiving any planning permission is not the same as taking action to ensure that it complies with building regulations.
Useful information about planning and building regulations can be found on the Government Planning Portal website www.planningportal.gov.uk
Self build projects require funds to be made available in stages as the house is being built – these can either be made in arrears or in advance depending on the lender. Some lenders will also lend to purchase the land with outline planning permission. An advisor from Mortgage Advice Bureau will be able to search over 90 lenders to find the right self build mortgage for you.
Most build projects can be broken down into 6 key stages:
A typical example of a cashflow budget (for illustrative purposes only):
|Purchase of land||£130,000|
|Initial site clearance costs and laying foundations||£35,000|
|Construction to wall plate (& timber frame)||£40,000|
|Wind & watertight||£20,000|
|First fix and plastering||£15,000|
|Second fix to completion||£48,000|
In addition, there are also the following costs to take into consideration:
|Architect & project management fees||£25,000|
|Survey, planning, finance and other associated fees||£5,000|
|Buildings warranty insurance||£1,250|
|Total budget (including plot)||£352,250|
Many self builders use their own savings to help finance their project, so in this example if the self-builder is using £75,000 of their own money and the estimated value of the final project once completed is £500,000, the funding requirement in this example will be £352,250 – £75,000 = £277,250, representing 55.45% loan to value (LTV against the final value).
What do you need to make a mortgage application?
When submitting a mortgage application for a self build mortgage borrowers will normally be required to provide:
How does the mortgage drawdown process work?
Once a mortgage application has been approved, the lender will agree a schedule of payment drawdowns with the borrower.
To qualify for a self build mortgage, your project must usually meet the following criteria:
Outline Planning Permission must have been obtained before your application can be considered and before any initial funds can be released. Detailed Planning Permission must have been granted and approved by the lender before any stage releases can be made.
Building Regulation Approval must have been issued and approved by the lender before building work starts and before any stage releases can be made.
As the buyer of the property, you are responsible for completing the land transaction return and paying the Stamp Duty Land Tax. Your solicitor or licensed conveyancer will usually handle this for you and send it to HMRC on your behalf.
Your mortgage lender will conduct a survey and valuation of your land for their own records and, even though they charge you for this, you will normally find that this valuation is not passed on to you. You may therefore also wish to have an independent valuation carried out by a professional surveyor for your own use and purposes. Mortgage lenders will normally also charge you for each re-inspection and valuation as the different stage payment points are reached.
As there can be quite large variations between different lender’s charges, you should seek information about these before deciding which mortgage may be most suitable.
You should expect to pay fees for drawings and plans prepared by architects or other professionals. You will also have to pay the normal council charges for planning permission, and for building regulations approval and inspections. These costs can be obtained on request from the local council.
If you have purchased a plot of land that is not already connected for mains services like electricity, gas and water, you will need to budget for these to be provided. Depending on the distance to the nearest services these charges can be considerable, and we recommend you establish these early in your project planning by contacting the electricity, water and gas companies. They will have plans of where the nearest infrastructures exist and should be able to provide estimates of costs and the length of time to establish a connection (this can be considerable in some areas).
It is important to ensure you are adequately insured. Self build insurance policies are available and can provide cover for:
Public Liability Insurance
This covers legal liability for claims made by any other person or body in respect of death, injury or loss arising from your building operations.
Employer’s Liability Insurance
This is a legal requirement if you are employing anyone. This can also be a factor if any sub-contractor working for you has an accident on site where your duty to provide a safe working site could be called into question.
Contracts Works Insurance
Protects against losses through theft, vandalism, structural damage, fire, flood, storm damage, damage by delivery vehicles, etc.
Self build homes are exempt from VAT, as are non-domestic buildings with Planning Permission for conversion into homes and certain listed properties. You should be able to reclaim your VAT if you are doing a self build project or converting a non-residential property eg a barn or a windmill. Make sure you keep receipts for all your purchases as you will need these to make your claim.
With building work complete and the interiors finished, you’ll be ready to move in to your dream home. There are a few important practicalities to consider – such as obtaining the Completion certificate from building control, ensuring any small issues are dealt with as part of the ‘snagging’ process and making that all-important VAT reclaim.
To book an appointment please call 01664 494100 or take a look at our Mortgage Advice Bureau website where you can also see the latest deals, access mortgage calculators, meet the team, get expert advice and much more.