Well, the bullet has been bitten. After more than two years of waiting, applying, arguing, sleepless nights and pretty much putting life on hold, we are finally about to start our self build.
The bitten bullet referred to is the affordable housing contribution (AHC). Since June, an “imminent” announcement about exemption for self builders has been awaited. We now have full planning permission, building regs approval, firm quotes and – most importantly – an approved mortgage offer. Bearing in mind the hoops we have jumped through to get the latter, the thought of having to do it all again if the building society refuse to extend the offer, means we are going to press ahead and take the hit of the £13,500 AHC liable for payment on completion.
What we are hoping for is that, whilst we are building, the exemption will come into force and we can then at least try to argue that we shouldn’t have to pay the full amount. That is of course if the announcement is ever made and if, indeed, it is in the favour of self builders.
I first contacted Homebuilding & Renovating back in October 2012 when we had just started out on this massive (sorry, here comes the “J” word) journey as I was keen to start a blog on our progress. That was before the battle commenced. We had always wanted to build our own house but plot prices rocketed and we accepted it was never likely to happen.
However, what we didn’t bank on was becoming really good friends with another family in the village who had half an acre of spare land. They offered it to us for a good price – none of us knowing whether we could get planning permission – and then our lives started to change.
After submitting a pre-application form to our local authority, we were advised that they were in the middle of re-writing the Local Plan and that our village had in fact been put forward for five houses to be built over the following 13 years. Yippee we thought!
That was until there was then a parish meeting and it was relayed to the local residents as five developments; which, of course, set alarm bells ringing. Cue a lot of head shaking, mutterings of “outsiders settling here” and a farcical vote resulting in the village being withdrawn from that particular plan.
To put things very briefly, we decided to give it a go anyway. We applied for outline planning permission; got a refusal. Applied again when the council decided they couldn’t demonstrate a five year supply of building land, were recommended for approval with the backing of our ward councillor, went to planning committee and were told that the council had changed their mind that morning and now could demonstrate a five year supply. We were deferred for two months, then refused, we lodged an appeal, then they changed their minds AGAIN and said they didn’t have the five year supply so wouldn’t contest our appeal. We applied again and WON!
Then, when we recovered from our nervous breakdowns (!), we started the whole process off again with an application for approval of reserved matters. Thankfully, this application went really smoothly and we received a full approval pretty swiftly. Similarly, the building regulations process has also been great and, except for a few small tweaks, everything we want has been passed and approved.
So, I suppose the real work begins now and that is why I have decided to re-start my (previously non-starting) blog. I just didn’t have the heart to carry on when everything seemed to be going pear-shaped. However, I now have a good feeling and, although I know it is going to be enormously stressful, tiring, expensive etc., I also know it is what we have wanted for years and at the end of it, we are going to have the family home of our dreams.
Coming up – the joys of getting quotes, deciding on a heating system (what a nightmare) and finance – Bleurgh! Oh, and our, some would say, slightly unconventional route of building.