Self Build Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions from Buy to Let Landlords
Below are the top questions we've been asked about developing a home - so we thought it would be helpful to publish them! Don't forget you can email us on enquiries@designsonproperty.co.uk or call us on 0845 838 1763 if you need support during your self build or property development project.

Where do I find a reputable builder?
Work with a builder that is a member of a trade organisation that has a third party dispute procedure such as FMB or Trust Mark. Talk to friends, neighbours and family who have had similar work done and make sure that the same people that carried out their building work would be doing yours. Signs of a good builder is one that gives a detailed quote and breaks down all the costs such as labour and materials and has a fair contract which you can check with a local solicitor.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as a builder!

What size of plot do I need to build a property?
The size of plot you need to build a property depends on the size of property you are building. As a guide, use the depth of the house and add 15-20 metres for the plot depth and add 2-5 metres to the width of the build you intend to build.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as plot finding services!
 
Do I need an architect?
Whether you need an architect or not depends on the complexity and size of your project. If you are building a property from scratch (self build) or carrying out a substantionnal extension then you are likely to need an architect. However if you are converting a loft or adding a basement then the companies who are helping you may well be able to provide this service.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as architect services!

How do I get planning permission?
You will need to contact your local planning office to gain planning permission for major changes to your property, or to build a property. Ideally talk to them about your intentions before you buy a plot/property or spend money on the work, just in case there are any reasons why you can't make the changes. If the planning department are happy with your idea, then you will need to apply for outline or detailed planning permission.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as planning consultants!

Why do I need planning permission?
You will need planning permission if you want to extend your property further than your permitted development rights or in conservation areas, or if your property is Listed. It is important to understand any issues that may prevent you from making changes to your property as you may spend lots of money and have your planning rejected. If you go ahead without planning permission you may be made to take the alterations/build down.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as architects!

How long does the planning process take?
From submitting your planning application it should take eight weeks for you to gain planning permission or have it refused. An appeal or having to re-submit your plans is likely to take a further four months. 

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as planning consultants!
 
What are building regulations/controls?
Building regulation/controls specify how properties have to be constructed. For example foundations must be secure; drainage must be built correctly; gas appliances must be fitted correctly; glass needs to be the right specification and safe; stairs must pass building regulations; properties must be built so that people can escape and there is minimum impact on the property if there is a fire.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as a building control costs!

How do I work out the build costs?
The best way to do this is request an estimated 'cost per square metre' from your architect. Alternatively you can use an on-line calculator such as BuildStore's cost calculator.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as a builders or self build estimating systems!

Do I need a project manager?
If you are self building or carrying out a large renovation project or extension, then it is worth considering and costing out how much it would be to have a project manager on board. This is especially important if you can't be off work during your build or there at the start and finish of every day.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as a project manager!

How do I get self build finance?
Self build finance is very specialised. Some lenders are happy to lend you money to self build but don't necessarily give you the flexible finance you are likely to need. Ideally visit an Independent Financial Advisor (IFA) that has experience of financing a self build or visit companies such as our Self Build finance section.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as off self build finance costs!

Do I need to sell my property to fund building my own home?
You now have a choice of selling your property and funding the self build yourself, renting or living on site in a caravan. Alternatively there is finance available called an 'accelerator mortgage'. This allows you to stay in your own home and only borrow the money that you need at each stage of the build.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking services such as off self build finance!

How long does it take to build a property?
Building a property is a lot faster if you build with a timber frame kit and from the start of clearing a site to moving in can take as little as six months. However this depends on the size and complexity of the build - and of course the weather! So be prepared to be building for approximately a year to take into consideration any issues that might occur which delay the build.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when ordering a timber frame kit!

Where can I find out about eco/green new builds?
Many people build their own home to create an eco-friendly property and you can visit self build centres and shows such as My Kind of Home; Home Building Magazine and Grand Designs to find out more about eco building. Alternatively you can visit specialist eco-friendly self build companies such as Potton or Newhall. Finally visit already eco friendly designated places such as Sherwood Energy Village.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when ordering eco friendly materials!

How much does a property cost to build per square metre?
The best way to find out how much a property will cost per square metre is to ask your architect or use an on-line calculator such as BuildStore's cost calculator.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when costing out the build of your home!

Do I need to find a plot of land with planning permission?
Absolutely! Or at least Outline planning permission. If you buy land which has no planning permission granted you may nver be able to build on it or it make take 10 years plus to try and get permission to build, but there are no guarantees. Be especially careful about companies selling 'plots' of land at inflated prices on the gamble that planning permission may be given in the future.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when booking a planning consultant!

Can I buy a plot without planning permission?
You can buy lots of plots which don't have planning permission and can only be used for agricultural purposes; horses; woodland etc.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when organising your conveyancing!

How difficult is it to obtain planning permission?
Obtaining planning permission on plots which already have a property; have outline planning for a home or have lapsed planning should be possible - although you may have to stick to the original square meterage. If you try to gain planning permission for a plot of land that is only used for farming or woodland, getting planning would be extremely difficult so ask the local planners before you buy.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when finding a planning expert!

What are building regulations/controls?
These rules express in detail the legal requirements to safely construct a property, for example how stairways can be constructed, rules for electrics and gas regulations.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when managing your building control costs!

How do I work out the build costs?
There are various methods that you can employ. Most local builders/architects that have built proeprties before will have an idea of a 'price per square metre'. Secondly you can contact 'self build kit' companies and find out costs from them. Finally there are some 'self build cost calculators' that you can use such as BuildStore.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when working out how much it will cost to build your home!

Where can I find land for sale?
There are several ways of finding land for sale. Look in your local property paper, visit your estate agent and look for 'for sale' signs. There are also on-line property specialists that list building plots for sale visit Land Finding Services.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when organising the legals for your land purchase!

How do I get finance?
You can sell your own home and release equity to buy land, materials and build the property for cash. Alternatively your own bank/building society may be willing to lend you the money if you have a good financial record. However it's worth considering specialist self build finance companies such as those listed in our Self Build finance section which allow you to borrow money at each build stage.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when organising your self build finance!

Do I need to sell my current property before buying a plot of land?
This depends on whether you need to pay for the land/self build with cash or whether you use specialist self build finance. Visit companies in our Self Build finance section

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when organising the purchase of your land!

How long does it take to construct a property?
The time it takes to build a property depends on whether you build it from scratch with specific materials, or if you buy in a 'self build kit' which can be quickly erected. Typically from the time you start clearing the ground to build will take a minimum of five to six months through to several years, depending on size, and complications on the way.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when organising your builders!

How much does it cost to build a property?
On average (and this really is an average), land costs are 50% of the project, 25% are materials and 25% labour. The average self build is estimated at £280,000.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when organising your self build finance!

Do I need to find a plot of land with planning permission to self build?
It is highly unlikely that a plot of land which has no outline or full planning permission on it will be given planning permission to build. Always check with the local planning office.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when organising planning permission!

What is outline planning permission?
Outline planning is like an 'agreement in principle' that the planning office will accept a full planning permission. You cannot build with outline planning and have to apply for full planning before you do anything.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when organising a planning consultant or architect!

What is full planning permission?
Full planning permission is given to planning applications which are processed against local authority rules and mean that you have the approval to build. However you still can't start the build until you have plans which pass building regulations.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when organising a planning consultant or architect!

Can full planning permissions be amended?
Full plans can be amended, but won't necessarily be accepted. It is best to talk to the local planner before you officially apply for the amendments.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when organising a planning consultant or architect!

What style of property should I build?
This is entirely up to you! You can build with lots of different materials such as brick and block; polystyrene blocks filled with concrete; timber frame kits; corregated iron; stone etc. It depends on any local rules; size and budget.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when organising an architect or choosing a timber frame kit!

Which is the cheapest type of property to construct?
Timber frame kits or brick and block are probably the cheapest building methods.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when organising a timber frame kit to purchase!

What are the advantages of self build?
The main advantages of self build are that you can design your own home and rooms (within planning/building control guidelines) and that typically you can build a property at 30% less than you would buy one for.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when organising an architect!

What are the disadvantages of self build?
The main disadvantages of self build are that you often have to compromise on location and what you want to build due to supply of land and planning laws.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when searching for land to self build on!

What if the property only has limited services ie mains water but no electricity or gas?
There are many plots of land which do not have any services at all. It doesn't mean that you can't build. You can either use eco solutions to provide water and heat, or you can have the services supplied if that's possible, but you will have to have a survey done and it can cost thousands to do. Alternatively you can look at other supplies such as oil for heating purposes.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when organising connection of utilities for new self builds!

Do I have to construct a similar property to those surrounding the plot?
This depends on the local planning restrictions and whether you have a local planning officer/parish that is open to different types of design. Sometimes plans turned down at local level can be approved on appeal.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when choosing a self build design!

I have found a plot without access.  Can I still build on it?
This depends on what the planners say. Normally access is required for you to construct a property so you shouldn't purchase land without access unless you have spoken to the local planners.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when organising a planning consultant!

Do I have to pay Council Tax during the build process?
Council Tax is typically payable when you live in the property - not when it's empty, let alone not built yet! You will however have to apply for a Council Tax Band prior to moving into your self build property.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when valuing a property for council tax purposes!

Do I pay my builder at the end of the project or in instalments during the build?
NEVER pay your builder at the start of a project, always agree to pay in installments and have a contract in place which ensures it's in writing. Always hold 5-10% of the final cost back for a few months after the end of the build to cover any issues that may arise once you've moved in.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when using a builder or tradesman!

What does NHBC stand for?
NHBC stands for National House Building Council. It is one of several bodies that measure and check the construction of a new build/converted home. They provide a warranty for self build properties, as do Zurich and Premier Guarantee.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when organising a ten year structural warranty for a self build!

Can I claim the VAT back on build materials or fixtures and fittings?
Yes you can claim back the VAT on many of the build costs of a self build property. Contact HMRC for more information.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when working with a property tax consultant!

I want to build my house out of straw.  Where can I find a builder to do this?
Building with straw is actually quite easy. There is actually a website dedicated to straw house building! It's appropriately called Straw Homes.

Need to find out more? Try our Self Build information store or join as a member of Designs on Property and receive support throughout your property project including all our factsheets and ebooks for free. We will even save you £££s money when buying materials for a self build made of straw!

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