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15 Essential Resources Every Self Builder Should Know

Jason Orme self-build project
(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

Before you break ground on your homebuilding 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 rise to the challenge.

(MORE: Self Build Guide)

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

2. Landfinding Services

aerial view of land

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The notion that there is lack of available land on which to build can often put potential self builders off 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 landfinding 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)

3. 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. 

4. 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. 

(MORE: Self Build Mortgages)

5. Magazines

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

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

(MORE: Check out our latest subscriptions offers)

6. Build Cost Calculator

This free calculator tool 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.

7. 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.

8. Exhibitions

The expert advice on offer at these events is invaluable to self builders and renovators. Many events of this nature have become virtual during the pandemic, but offer all the same insight and inspiration of the live event, with a benefit of being able to enjoy them from the comfort of your own home.

Find out more about the Homebuilding & Renovating Show

9. 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. The Association also produces The Self Build Portal which is full of useful information on a variety of self build areas.

10. 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)

11. CIAT

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?)

12. 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 to get a sense of the end result you could achieve.

13. 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. 

14. Federation of Master Builders (FMB)

Setting up a payment schedule

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Find a master builder for your build project using the ‘Find A Builder’ function on the FMB site.

(MORE: Top tips to help you find a builder for your project)

15. 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.

(MORE: How to find the best tradespeople)