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19 Essential Resources to Help Every Self Builder

large self build home design
(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

Before you break ground on your self build project, a lot of meticulous planning and preparation is required - not only to help keep a handle on your build costs and make the right decisions for your project, but also to avoid unnecessary stress and changes mid-way through.

It can be daunting to take on such an ambitious project, especially if you've never done it before, but fortunately there are numerous resources, covering all aspects of the build process, available to help you push on with your project.

(MORE: Ultimate Guide to Self Build)

1. Right to Build Register 

As part of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, local authorities are now required to help find land for those interested in building their own homes. This legislation is known as the Right to Build.

If you’re interested in building your own home, make sure you register your interest with your local authority. 

2. Planning Portal 

You’ll need planning permission if you’re going to build your own home, but there are some exemptions under permitted development if you are renovating or extending.

You’ll find everything you need to know about planning permission (as well as all relevant documentation) on the Planning Portal site. 

3. Land Finding Services

The notion that there is lack of available land on which to build can often put off potential self builders from going ahead with their project. But there may be more land available than you may think. 

You might not find an abundance of virgin plots in your local area, but there could be opportunity to develop a brownfield site, or you may find an existing property where it makes more financial sense to demolish and replace rather than renovate.  

A great place to start is a land finding service, like plotfinder.net. These services will not only highlight where land and renovation opportunities are available, but will also give you an idea of the price you can expect to pay in your chosen area.

(MOREHow to Value a Building Plot)

4. Build Cost Calculator

This free Build Cost Calculator will help you to estimate your build costs, taking into account the kind of house you’d like to build, where you want to build it and how involved you want to be in the process.

This is an essential step before you meet with your finance provider, and first time self builders find it useful to also check out these self build homes for an idea of what can be achieved for a similar cost.

5. Self Build Mortgages

If you’re looking at how to finance your self build project, make sure you are aware of the specialist mortgages available. Self build mortgages are released in stages rather than in one lump sum.  

Illustration of house on self build plot

(Image credit: Getty)

6. Homebuilding & Renovating Show

The expert advice on offer at exhibitions such as the Homebuilding & Renovating Show, is invaluable to self builders and renovators. 

You'll be able to browse the latest products and receive independent expert advice at the Advice Centre - the Homebuilding & Renovating Show has everything you need for your self build, renovation or extension project all under one roof. 

Find out the dates for the 2021 and 2022 shows here.

7. How-to Guides

Learning the techniques behind some building work will be particularly useful if you’re looking to do most of your self build yourself, or looking to reduce your costs.

Visit our YouTube channel for a series of informative how-to videos, including How to Insulate Your Loft and 8 Top Tips for Plastering.

8. NaCSBA

The National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) aims to promote self build and custom build as a significant form of home building in the UK. NaCSBA also produces The Self Build Portal which is full of useful information on a variety of self build areas.

9. Magazines

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A great place to start is to arm yourself with self build is through a stack of magazines, like Homebuilding & Renovating, that are packed full of information, inspiration and contacts to set you on the right path when it comes to building your home.

Not only are magazines such as Homebuilding & Renovating essential for growing your own knowledge base, but they will often spark ideas that may never have occurred to you.

10. Insurance/Warranties

warranty self build inspector

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The right kind of insurance is a must when it comes to building your own home. Homebuilding & Renovating has partnered with leading insurance specialist Self Build Zone to provide bespoke solutions at market-leading rates for its readers.

11. The Planning Hub

The Planning Hub is an online resource that will help you understand how to get to grips with complex planning rules.

Once you’re signed in, you can access easy-to-read guides written by Homebuilding & Renovating's planning experts, which will provide you with key information to help you obtain planning permission.  

12. Help to Build

The Help to Build scheme is set to launch in 2021, and it could have a transformational impact for self builders.

The full details of Help to Build have not yet been confirmed, but it is expected to be an equity scheme for self builders, which will offer equity loans partially funded by the government to reduce the requirement of a large deposit to secure a self build mortgage.  

Richard Bacon MP, a member of the Right to Build Task Force, says the scheme “could open up a range of opportunities” for self builders. 

13. RIBA

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is the professional body for architects – use their search function to find a RIBA-approved architect in your area.

(MORE: 11 Ways to Assess Your Architect)

14. CIAT

The Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) is the qualifying body for architectural technology – use their search function to find an architectural technologist near you.

(MORE: What is an Architectural Technologist?)

15. The Housebuilder's Bible

The Housebuilder’s Bible is an essential resource for planning your self build or renovation project, and for a limited time only you can get a free copy when you subscribe to Homebuilding & Renovating magazine. 

In The Housebuilder’s Bible, experienced housebuilder and renovator Mark Brinkley delves into the information extenders and renovators need to make the right project decisions.

The 13th edition of the best-selling guide insightfully explores project management guidance, design tips and the home build pitfalls to avoid. 

16. Try Before You Buy – The Oakwrights Show Home

Oakwrights show home

Oakwrights Show Home in Hereford (Image credit: Oakwrights)

If you’re thinking about building an oak frame home, take the opportunity to stay overnight in a fully functional show home courtesy of Oakwrights to get a sense of the end result you could achieve.

(MORE: 27 Inspiring Oak Frame Homes)

17. Potton Self Build Show Centre 

With five Potton-designed self build homes on the site in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, you can actually walk around and get a real sense of the design, as well as finding loads of ideas for your own project. 

If you find it challenging to visualise a design having just seen it on paper, this experience will be exceptionally useful for you. 

18. Federation of Master Builders (FMB)

Building a home

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Find a master builder for your build project using the ‘Find A Builder’ function on the Federation of Master Builders site.

(MORE: Top Tips to Find a Builder)

19. Trade Review Sites

Take the stress out of finding the right tradesperson for your project by using a trade review site, like Checkatrade, MyBuilder and Rated People. Many of these sites feature reviews from previous clients to help you find a reliable tradesperson to help with your project.

Sarah Handley

Sarah is Web Editor of homebuilding.co.uk. She began her career more than a decade ago, working on the editorial team of Public Sector Building magazine, before joining the wider Homebuilding & Renovating team as Social Media Editor in 2012. Since purchasing her first house in 2015, Sarah has been adding to the ever-increasing list of home improvements she needs to make; including extending over the garage, resurfacing the driveway, replacing existing flooring and revamping the kitchen. Fortunately, in her eight years on Team Homebuilding, including three as web editor, she is not short on design inspiration or top tips to tackle or project manage these tasks herself.