For many who dream of building their own home, understanding whether it might be an affordable option is often the first question they ask – and it’s a difficult one to answer.
The cost of a self-build home can vary dramatically depending on it’s location and design. At every step of the process, the decisions you make can influence the final cost, so it’s important to think carefully about exactly what you want from your project at the outset.
Choosing the right self-build plot
Choosing a plot of land for your self-build home is one of the first decisions that you’ll make – and is likely to be the single biggest cost. The price you’ll pay for your plot is usually related to house prices in the surrounding area and typically equates to around a third of the value of the finished home.
Establish how your design preferences impact build costs
Once you’ve chosen your plot, the decisions you make about the design of your self-build home can have a dramatic impact on the final cost too. Most obviously, bigger homes cost more to build that smaller ones but less obvious issues can also make a big difference.
For example, choosing a character brick instead of a basic stock brick can more than double the cost of this element of your build – and a natural stone finish will push the build cost higher still.
The same is true of the internal fit out. We all know that there is a huge range in the cost of a fitted kitchen – from a few thousand pounds for something from a national chain to ten times that or more for a custom-made kitchen with top quality appliances – but the same can be true of everything from floor coverings to door handles.
Decide where to splurge and where to save
Make sure you pick the right quality in the right areas – mix and match cheaper options in less visible or lightly-used areas with better quality choices in those parts of your home that you’ll spend the most time in.
Even the approach you want to take to design – whether traditional, contemporary or even a zero carbon eco-home – can result in a huge difference in the cost.
Hire an architect with self-build expertise
This is where appointing a good architect early in the process can pay dividends. They’ll be able to advise you on exactly what’s possible and where you might be able to save some money – materials that are cost effective don’t have to look cheap.
Think about what work you might be able to delay until the future too – perhaps that room in the roof could be left for a future date?
How much does self-build cost?
Despite the almost infinite range of project types, most self-build projects are likely to cost somewhere between £1,300 and £1,700 per square metre (not counting the cost of the land). Yet the huge range of possible designs and specifications means the cost of a self-build home can be anything from £1,000 per square metre to £3,000 per square metre – with even higher figures for more innovative designs.
Make sure you set aside a contingency fund. You never know what will happen - or what you'll want to change - once your project is underway.
With such a wide range of potential costs, it’s crucial that you take steps to make sure you can keep those costs under control.
Knowing your budget – and sticking to it – is central to that.
At the outset, work out what you can afford to spend on your project. Self-build isn’t just for the super-rich – the average household income of self-builders is £50,000 to £59,000 per year. Contact a specialist mortgage advisor and they’ll be able to help you calculate how much you can borrow.
Once you’ve set that budget, be clear with your architect on what that is – including setting some aside as a contingency for unforeseen costs – so they can produce a design to suit.
In the end, all that hard work and effort pays off – on average, self-build homes are worth a sizeable 29% more than they cost. Most important of all, it will a be home that you love, designed perfectly for you.