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Aberdeenshire Couple’s Self Build Dream Becomes Reality

Self build home
(Image credit: Scottish Building Society)


Graeme Gammie’s dreams of building a new home for his family nearly didn’t get off the ground when his lender turned him down for the self build mortgage he needed to fund the project.

Despite having a sizeable deposit and owning the plot of land on his father’s Inverbervie farm, his application to a major lender was rejected because of his postcode.

“I was surprised to say the least, because when I first started thinking about building our own home, I thought money would be the last thing I would have to worry about. I did a bit of research for self build specialist lenders myself and came across Scottish Building Society.  It was a relief to find professionals who knew what they were talking about and understood the local market. It was still a rigorous process, with lots of questions to answer, but they all made sense and it helped dealing with people who knew what they were doing.”

After a seventh month build programme, Graeme and his partner Debbie, are now getting ready to move into their new five bedroom detached home which they have designed to accommodate their three children.

Using a Main Contractor

The couple appointed local building firm GF Bisset of Inverbervie as main contractor on the project and agreed to release funds in two tranches, the first when the building was wind and water tight, and the second on satisfactory completion.

“It was a huge benefit to have a main contractor who could directly supply the trades needed as it meant we have had a single point of contact throughout. GF Bisset gave me a fixed price for the build which included allowances for some fixtures and fittings. It meant we could have tight control of the budget so that when I upgraded the staircase increasing the cost by £3000, I could alter spend elsewhere on the project to make up for it. There is no VAT on a new build property so I made sure to use suppliers where the contractor had a trade account to simplify the accounting process. It all helps to keep stress levels down,” said Graeme.

Once fully finished the house will be worth around £450,000 and with the builders off site, Graeme and Debbie are looking forward to creating their garden and outside space to take advantage of the amazing countryside views. 

Lessons Learned 

Do … plan ahead 

“It’s the small details that catch you on the hop,” says Graeme, “like being asked what kind of outside lights we wanted on the day of installation when we hadn’t even thought about them. We also had to make a snap decision on the colour of the roof ridging when the roofers arrived on site.”

Don’t … penny pinch

“We have had great value out of our relationship with the builder by accepting their price for the job on condition that they added value by including a few extras such as installing our wood burner stoves and fitting all our flooring. It worked for them and it’s worked for us. The end result is a quality job.”

Scottish Building Society Self Build Mortgages 

Scottish Building Society offers mortgages for people looking to build their own home. The self build mortgage may also be suitable if you are renovating or extending your existing property. All mortgage applications are based on affordability and all existing financial commitments are taken into consideration on a case-by-case basis. For full details visit your local branch or call a mortgage advisor on 0345 600 4085. Find out more (opens in new tab).


Scottish Building Society is regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 206034). Member of Building Societies Association and UK Finance. Scottish Building Society, SBS House, 193 Dalry Road, Edinburgh EH11 2EF