If you’re planning on taking on your own build project, then you need to make sure you have ticked off a list of preparatory tasks before you break ground.

These will not only help your project to run smoothly and allow you to complete on time and on budget, but will also give you peace of mind should anything go wrong on site.

1. Get a Build Cost Estimate

The fear of going over budget is by far the biggest worry for people taking on a build project. While ultimately the only arbiter of the final build cost is the builder or project manager, having a good detailed estimate of the costs based on your specific plans can be a good way to manage expectations.

You can either employ a Quantity Survey to carry out a full bespoke report (with recommendations on where to save or potential alternatives) or you can use one of the fixed price estimating services provided by the likes of Build Aviator or Estimators Limited.

2. Make Sure You Have Adequate Insurance

Building your own home is likely to be the biggest expenditure you’ll ever undertake – and in most cases you’re doing it for the first time. It’s a potent recipe for things going wrong – and, this being an endeavour involving building sites, heights and heavy building materials, things do.

A building site is a uniquely dangerous place, and so insurance is critical to protect your investment. You’ll need public liability insurance, employer’s insurance and insurance to cover the materials and tools on site (there’s a lot of value there). These individual elements are often combined into a comprehensive self build insurance policy.

3. Arm Yourself With Expert Advice

Independent expert advice on your project is not only expensive but also difficult to come by. Designers, builders, materials suppliers all have varying degrees of bias in terms of the recommendations they give.

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4. Take Out a Structural Warranty

If you’re buying a new home from a developer, your solicitor and lender will insist on it being bought with a structural warranty provided by the developer. If you’re building your own home, any lender on the project will insist on one too. Even if you’re not borrowing money to fund the build, if you were to sell the house, the purchaser’s solicitor would insist on one.

There are plenty of options and it usually costs around 1% of the total build cost. The warranty inspector will visit the site in stages to ensure structural integrity.

5. Get a Site Survey

The groundworks is really the only element of a build project which is a significant unknown quantity – and it’s where a contingency fund is vital. With everything else in the build totally controllable, the more you can understand about the potential foundations solution required (how deep or, possibly, what type of specialist system you will need to employ) the more you’ll have foresight of potential costs.

A high quality site survey will give you this, digging trial holes across the site to enable you to work out what the ground consists of and how far solid ground actually is below the surface (some garden plots, for instance, will consist of topsoil/made up ground).


Main image: The remarkable design of Chris and Becky Taee’s home in a tranquil valley in Hampshire is the result of Chris’ brief to ‘be bold’.

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