I mean, we must be mad — a view (famously for self-builders) backed up by the unsolicited opinions of friends and family. Why put yourself through it? Why volunteer in this life for the optional root canal surgery of juggling late brick deliveries with brickies waiting to start, the unforeseen payments to everyone from contractors to merchants, bat consultants and even local authorities?  Why put up with the sleepless nights associated with a self build?

Well, it’s all very straightforward. And I’ve basically got three reasons why you should do it.

1) Because have you seen the state of the other options available to you?

If we start with the premise that you want to live in a really nice house (admittedly that’s not everyone – we all know people madder than us who would rather blow their money on flash cars or holidays or breast enhancement surgery or whatever rather than actually have a pleasing and uplifting home environment to spend their years in) then what choice do you have?

If you want a new house, then — and I’m literally cruising past a modern housing estate on a train journey as I write — you’ll end up having to buy a house on one of these godawful estates that seem to have been masterplanned by a dystopian film set director, full of lookalike houses facing each other with tiny front drives and weird ‘gardens’ and so on. Not to mention the potential to end up trapped by a leasehold scandal or disastrous snagging that goes unsnagged and renders the house unsellable.

I don’t believe for a minute that anyone aspires to live in these homes, these modern estate prisons – but when that’s your only new build choice, that’s what you do.

And then if you want a house with a bit more style and a garden that is in some way acceptable, you’ll be looking at old housing. Which we all love, of course, but what are you going to do about that tiny kitchen? That leaky window? The bone-numbing cold and damp? 

two people in hard hats on site of a housebuilding project

Self building can be daunting, stressful and time consuming – so why do people do it?

2) Because why wouldn’t you want to live in a house that you choose for yourself?

We all essentially like what we like then try and find something to fit. If not, we create it or ‘bespoke’ it. And when (see 1. above) there is nothing that we like, we make it.

Modern white rendered home? Why wait for someone to build it for you? Do it yourself! Georgian style home with super insulation? Same. Massive house with facilities for a disabled family member? Check – good luck finding that on the market. American style home overlooking the coast? Go for it. House with room for disco in the basement; swimming pool; gaming arena; walk in wardrobe of Kardashian-style scale; ‘sanctuary’ bathroom: all yours and within your grasp, if you self build.

3) Because nothing in this life that’s good comes easy

We would all love stuff handed to us on a plate. Indeed there are many people for whom that is their main guiding principle in life. Yet we know – those of us who have worked hard at school, or overcome fears, or learned to ride a bike, or had kids, or lost weight, or beat an illness or whatever – we know that the best things come to those who overcome something to get there.

So what I’m saying is that of course building your own home should be easier. That’s what the initiatives, and the new land, announced during 2020 will be there to do. But having done a few of these projects I have to tell you that with the hard work, the sleepless nights, the stress, comes the greater reward.


This year marks the very special 30th anniversary of Homebuilding & Renovating. Over the next 12 months, we’ll be sharing some of our favourite memories and bringing you special content to mark the occasion. Thank you for celebrating with us.

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