If anyone tests the theory that ‘home is where the heart is’ to the limit, it has to be self builders.

In pursuit of their dream home many self builders live in temporary accommodation for months or even years such as; in a caravan, mobile home, or even in the newly built garage — but does self-building inevitably mean roughing it?

Staying in Your Current House

In an ideal world, we would all choose to stay in our current house while our dream home takes shape, but this depends on your finances and the nature of your project.

Renovations and major extensions will mean living surrounded by noise, dust and mud, so consider how you can maintain some heating and privacy. Check whether the existing services to the house will be disrupted — several weeks without water, electricity or sewage is no fun.

A new build on the same site will make staying put even more favourable, as it is easy to maintain daily commitments, and saves you removal and storage expenses. Building on a new site, as long as it is quite close to your house, or if you’re planning to contract the work out, will also work well.


For flexibility, renting a house during your build may be the answer. You can raise capital by selling your house, change location to be nearer your project, and opt for temporary accommodation at the standard and price that best suits you. Although renting means two sets of moving costs, you won’t need storage.

As long as you’re seeking a family home, children won’t be a problem, but pets or smoking can seriously hamper your options as many landlords will flatly refuse either.

Finally, don’t expect renting to save you a dramatic amount over monthly mortgage repayments unless you downsize, and be prepared to pay up to two months rent as a deposit plus a month’s rent in advance, and agent’s fees before you even move in.

Caravan on-site

Static caravans allow you to be close to your build, raise capital through the sale of your house, do away rental fees, and are reasonably child and pet friendly. However, you do need to have enough space to site one and to clear it with the planning authority — there is usually no problem providing the caravan remains only during the build. Think out the access for either an articulated lorry or crane to deliver the caravan, and how you will connect it to the services.

As with everything, you get what you pay for and static caravans are available from a few hundred pounds to £30,000. Contrary to image, they need not be cold and running with condensation if you choose carefully. Check for leaks and if possible, avoid gas heaters. If you plan to be in the van for some time, invest in central heating.

Alternatively, if your build includes a garage with living space above, consider completing this before you start on the house. This will provide you with ideal accommodation on site, or at least sizeable storage.

Our Sponsors