According to research approximately one million people in the UK would like to build their own home in the next year.

This is what is known in the industry as self build, and it is estimated that around 11,000 self build homes are completed each year.

Self building, of course, does not necessarily mean picking up bricks and physically getting stuck in on site. In fact, less than 10% of all homebuilding projects involve the owner being significantly involved with the actual building process.

According to market research by Homebuilding & Renovating, over 10,000 self builds took place between July 2013 and 2014, making it the single largest housebuilder in the country.

Instead, most self builders will be involved in the creative side of the process — formulating a design brief for the house designer, selecting a builder, and choosing the internal and external fixtures and fittings.

The key to the self build process is that it is flexible, and so regardless of whether you are very busy or have plenty of time on your hands, your involvement in the project can be tailored entirely around your own lifestyle. Along with the potential cost savings involved in building your own home, it is the unique opportunity to design a house that suits your needs that is the primary reason for self building.

Finding Land to Build a Home on

Self build land is, in some areas of the country, increasingly difficult to find, yet self build plots are definitely there – you just need to know how to find them. Our Complete Guide to Finding a Plot explains all the tricks and tips to help you find land for your self build home. It explains who to talk to and when, including estate agents, land agencies, planning departments, builders and more.

A Guide to Plot Types is a guide to all the different types of self build land including backland development, greenfield land, brownfield land, green belt land, infill plots and much more.

The Government is doing more to help people build their own homes and they recently launched the Right to Build. This makes councils have a duty to assess their provision of land and check that the supply of plots meets the demands of local self builders. Most of these plots will be supplied as serviced plots, with utilities connected and planning permission in place.

Find a plot on

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Home?

Costs to build your own home will vary depending not only on the quality and size of the home you build, but also where you are building. Land prices and labour costs are regionally variable, so do take this into account when researching what others have built.

You also need to remember that as well as land, materials and labour, you will need to pay any professional fees, legal charges and also the fees to apply for planning permission and get building regulations sign off.

How do I Finance my Self Build?

There are several ways to fund your project:

  • Savings
  • From the sale of your last home
  • Large personal loan
  • Specialist self build mortgage

Self build mortgages are available from several high street banks as well as a number of specialist providers. They release the funds at various stages of the build (usually when you purchase the land, the substructure build, various stages of construction and then on completion).

See the latest self build mortgage deals.

Designing your New Home

Of the 11,000 or so homes self built last year, every one of them looks different in some way; some are traditional in style, being authentic replicas of Georgian, Tudor and Victorian homes, with warm, cosy interiors and plenty of cottage appeal; some are radically contemporary in design, with white rendered or wood clad exteriors, flat roofs, vast areas of glazing and large, open plan interiors. The majority, however, mix styles and features in a way that suits the individual owner.

Finding a Designer or Architect
Some people design their own home or work with a design and build company, but many enlist the help of a house designer or architect. Whether you are working with an architect or not, the first stage of any design process is creating a brief and deciding exactly what the requirements are for your home.

You also need to think about how the house will work with the plot you are building on, and be aware of any restrictions if you are building in a special designated area, such as a conservation area.

Custom Build Homes
The emerging term ‘custom build‘ is used to describe a subsection of self build which more closely follows models in Australia, the United States and other countries — whereby developers create large estates of individual serviced plots with planning permission and encourage individuals to specify their own design and build on them. This is an every growing and changing area of self build, hoped to give more people the chance to build a bespoke home.

How Long Does it take to Build a Home?

The average self build project takes around a year on site and at least a year in the pre-planning. The preliminaries themselves can take a while as you need to sort your finances, confirm a design and of course obtain planning permission before you can even break ground.

As a general rule you should expect it to take around two months to get a design and a general budget worked out; it usually takes two to three months to get planning permission (during which time you should engage builders); construction of the shell takes around three to four months, with perhaps double for the internal work. As a result, self builders should look at the whole process taking between a year and 18 months.

The length of the construction process depends on the construction method you use. Masonry generally takes longer than something such as timber frame which can be largely prefabricated off site. Some encapsulated kit systems take just a few days to be erected and made weathertight. If at all possible, try and ensure that exterior work is completed in time for winter; builders like to be inside when it is cold, and deep frost can stop foundations being dug at all.

Our self build schedule will give you an idea of the various stages of a masonry self build.

Where to go from here?

Many inexperienced self builders make their first mistake almost immediately by approaching things in the wrong way. We think this is the best way to get off on the right track:

• Come up with a budget
• Get a mortgage agreement
• Investigate plot opportunities
• Work out approximate build costs
• Buy a plot
• Establish a design and begin a builder search
• Apply for planning permission 
• Apply for Building Regs approval
• Set a start date
• Break ground on site

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