Is that you under there? If you have enough time and live close to site, then you should consider taking on project management duties. It’ll be overwhelming and stressful in the early stages, but you’ll save £1,000s and truly have a home to be proud of.
Self-building does not necessarily mean constructing your home single-handedly, brick by brick — although some aficionados wouldn’t dream of doing anything else. In reality, you are going to need some help to either run the site on your behalf or assist you in your elected commanding role.
If you decide to manage your own project, you are committing to a lot of work, stress and daily site visits for at least a year — but as you can save around 20% on your build cost doing so (as you’re taking on the role of the main contractor and keeping his 10- 20% added cost), it’s an appealing option.
You will be thrown right in at the deep end, taking responsibility for hiring trades – men, buying materials, making payments, taking deliveries and organising schedules, along with the small but significant tasks of providing facilities for the workers, arranging site security and taking out the appropriate insurances. This is a realistic option only for those living on or close to the site — and it will be down to you to solve any problems that arise. In short, the success of the project will rest entirely on your shoulders.
If this sounds a bit overwhelming or you live/work too far away, you’re going to have to delegate the role to a project manager. This could be the architect who designed the house (who will ensure that the project’s vision remains intact) or, more often, the main contractor, who will bring years of experience, established trade discounts and a bulging book of contacts to the party.
The beauty of this approach is that you are still free to get involved on site as much as you wish, perhaps initially assisting in bigger jobs and taking over once the house is weathertight, or even just the finishing touches stage: laying flooring, decorating etc.
Another option is to undertake a package or ‘turnkey’ self-build. This is when everything from the design to the decorating is done by one company, although many will negotiate a reduced package, leaving you to finish off. Package companies vary from timber frame kit suppliers (perhaps from the Continent), to oak framers, SIPs suppliers and even masonry builders, with the houses built often having a distinctive appearance.
This is the most expensive route, but ideal for those who are seeking a one-off home tailored to their needs, but want to spare themselves unnecessary travail and stress.
Can you handle it?
Only if the answer to all of the following questions is yes, should you consider it: