Embarking on a self build project – particularly if it’s your first – can be exciting and daunting in equal measure, but with the right preparation and a great team, you’ll stand yourself in good stead.
Here are our top tips for a successful, stress-free self build:
Don’t wait until you’ve found your plot to hire an architect
The first hurdle for any self builder is finding the right plot – it’s not uncommon for people to purchase their plot before appointing an architect, missing a brilliant opportunity to draw on years of expertise. The plot you’ve set your heart on might look fantastic on the surface, but an architect with an impassioned view and an expert eye can spot potential issues that could see build costs soar.
If it really is your dream location and would prove difficult to match, you might decide to press ahead regardless, but at the very least you’ll benefit from clarity on any design implications and the impact on build costs, avoiding nasty surprises.
Trusting the experts will boost your budget
Rather than adding extra cost to your project, expert input during the early stages – whether from an architect, planning consultant or builder – is likely to lower costs. They’ll be able to advise you on what’s possible and where you could save some money – materials that are cost effective don’t have to look cheap. They’ll also be able to advise on any aspects of the project could be delayed until a future date, helping you to maximise your budget and understand where to save and where to splurge.
It’s so important to hire a team with a proven track-record in self build – their expertise and knowledge will be invaluable, helping you to dodge avoidable pitfalls and mitigate any risks.
Don’t rely on written testimonials
When shortlisting potential contractors, consultants and suppliers, credibility should be a major factor – check out directories like our own on the MyPlot website, don’t be afraid to ask for references and speak with previous clients.
To avoid falling foul of cowboys, always use credible directories, ask friends and family for recommendations and always check Companies House for details about the financial strength of companies you’re considering.
Listen to your gut
If you find someone unlikeable at your first meeting, it’s unlikely they’ll grow on you. Whether you decide to project manage the build yourself, or hire someone to do the job for you, you’ll be spending a lot of time on site, so it’s important that you get along – don’t ignore that nagging feeling in your gut.
Replacing a contractor mid-way through a project is not only incredibly stressful, and will almost certainly see the project delayed, but will also see the budget edge upwards.
Have contracts in place and set clear expectations
As the project ramps-up, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement – and the ever-increasing number of questions – but make sure a signed contract between yourself and your builder is in place. We’re not talking war and peace, just a short document to outline deliverables, budget and agreed timescales.
Often, people prefer to allow builders to manage all tradesmen on their behalf, with just one point of contact instead of several – a full turnkey approach is undoubtedly the most straightforward option, but will usually be more costly. It’s an option to consider if you’re not overly conscious of budget.
Discuss and agree payment terms with your suppliers at the outset of the project, and make sure they’re set clearly against deliverables – never pay upfront and make sure that, if payments are staged, they are done so across the entire lifecycle of the project.
Remember there’s no such thing as a stupid question
As you’d expect, self builders usually have a lot of questions – after all, it’s a huge project with a lot at stake. It’s important to ask all the questions you have on your mind – don’t be afraid you’ll look clueless; it’s important to assuage your concerns. Any worries that aren’t satisfied could raise potential red flags.
It’s no secret that self build can be challenging, but with qualified experts on board, you stand a far greater chance of creating a beautiful home that’s perfect for you, both on time and on budget – and with your sanity and relationships intact.