I have had some great news since my last blog that my planning application was successful!! I was extremely pleased and really felt that the pre-planning application had helped smooth the process and resolve any issues or concerns at an early stage. The planning has a raft of conditions attached though they are mostly reasonable and achievable and far less numerous than many applications.

It has taken a lot longer than I had hoped to get to this stage and I am anxious not to let the schedule slip away further. At least now the planning is complete I feel a little more in control of my own destiny. I have decided my goal is to be moved in on or before Christmas 2015. I made a friendly bet with a friend a couple of years back that I would have bought a plot and self-built and be moved in by Christmas 2013. Amy if you are reading this yes I do owe you a crisp ten-pound note. Double or quits? Let me know!

I have found it fascinating just how many different ways and options there are when it comes to building a house. As you may know from my previous blogs I have been set on the idea of an oak framed house for some time. This has not changed but how to construct the rest of the structure is something I have wrestled with.

There are several principles to consider and to make it harder many of them overlap. One option is to design towards a passive house standard – that is super insulated and airtight perhaps with mechanical ventilation of some sort to maintain indoor air quality. The opposite principle is to consider a fabric less airtight with more passive or natural ventilation but using materials with thermal mass and/or thermal inertia. Of course though some houses use both airtightness and thermal mass combined.

Lightweight and heavy building envelopes each have different advantages and disadvantages. Whether the building envelope is built on or off site is another consideration. Thermal performance and the avoidance of cold bridging and gaps is another key area to ponder. Natural materials have many benefits but so do their synthetic counterparts that tend to be thinner giving more internal space. There are other important aspects I have considered that influence the choice of building envelope such as location, access, environment, appearances and of course personal preference.

I went through all these ideas and thoughts and then realised I’d missed a big one – the cost. Whatever option I choose it had to be cost effective and affordable. It has been surprisingly hard to cost compare different methods. It is has been even harder to consider the variable finishing costs of different systems.

After a lot of work on this I think I have a winner but I am still working on some estimates to ensure it is a viable option. I should know soon and my next blog will detail the planned construction method and the reasons behind the choice.

On a slightly different note as a follow up to my blog article back in June, The Self-Build Mortgage Challenge, Newbury Building society have very kindly written an article for my website. The article “A Guide To: Self Build Finance” is a very useful overview that is well worth a read if you are considering finance options for self-build.

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