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An Introduction to Selfbuild

Self-build is a term that is becoming ever-popular in the housing market. It's a self-explanatory term : building a property "by yourself". More and more people are doing just that - in fact, there are more self-builders in the UK than the total number of properties being developed by any single developer (Westbury or Barratts for example). The purpose of self-build is to create a property to your exact specifications, not a template that the large developers work to. Already you're probably thinking: "But I'm not a builder, I haven't a clue about how to build a house". The good news is that self-build doesn't have to involve you with the physical aspects of the property development (in fact, only around 5% of self-builders actually get involved with the actual development work).

Even the design aspects are often finalised by a professional designer. Self-build, by and large, is about you saying (in laymen's terms), what you want to the house designer - who produces a design based on your requirements. This design then becomes the blueprint the builders follow.

See? You don't need to have any hands-on involvement in self-build. Having said that, the DIY enthusiast can use self-build as an opportunity to save some money by helping out with the aspects of self-build they have experience in - it's up to you how much involvement you want. Since you get total control over the specifications with self-build, you can choose the latest in technology, while commercial developers lag behind because they're working to rigid template designs.

You can install things like underfloor heating, automated climate, lighting and entertainment facilities throughout your entire home. Self-build sounds expensive, but actually it's generally cheaper than buying a lived-in built property of the same specifications (up to 30% cheaper). Not only that, but self-build properties sell very well too - up to 25% higher than the actual build cost, so self-build can be simply an investment, rather than a place to live. If you're self-building to sell the property immediately, you will need to take into account the needs and wants of your target market.

You may not like to have a cloakroom toilet downstairs, but if that's what the target market dictates, then you should build one. If you're self-building a house that you will actually live in, then you're free to design 100% to your own specifications. Having said that, it's wise to consider the resale value of your property if you're developing a property that caters to a very narrow market. Bear in mind also that once a design becomes a blue-print, it should not be changed during the build - by making these kinds of changes, you can find your self-build project becoming a moneypit.

So the message here is: hire a professional house designer, and do not worry too much about who is the cheapest. A good design will ultimately reward your investment in hiring a professional who can design a well-presented plan for the builders. This article is merely an introduction to self-build, and I hope it will encourage those of you who are put off by the thought of running a project on this kind of scale. It needn't be time-intensive, and you won't need house building / designing skills, but you will need to be careful as to who you hire, and you will need to carefully work out the budget of the project.

Daniel Gookey is a freelance writer, and has written some of the content for supplies2go.co.uk - a website dedicated to help self-builders source Building Materials for their projects as well as advise them on their self-build projects too.

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