Home Improvement

building your own home


Every year over 25 000 people build their own homes and about 250 000 think about it! Contrary to popular belief, most people who achieve their ambition do not have lots of money and do not have any previous knowledge of the building industry. Self-builders have different motives for making the decision to build their own homes. Some do it to express their own individuality and create something different. Others wish to make their contribution to the conservation movement by using eco-friendly materials. But all self-builders hope to save money by doing it themselves rather than buying a house from a builder or developer.

Although this is often the case, there is danger of underestimating the commitment needed both in time and money to build a house. Anything less than a total dedication to the project will cost you financially and the benefits looked for in the first place will disappear. It cannot be overstressed that the most successful self-built projects are those that have been planned and budgeted for, in the most detail. Planning the sequence and order of the work can identify problems and difficulties whose impact can be reduced, or even prevented, with a little forethought.

There are three main types of self-builders. First, is the hands-on type who wants to do as much of the work as possible. Couples working together usually come into this category and they are prepared to work weekends and holidays for two to three years to fulfil their dreams. These people gain the most from the self-build experience because of the immense feeling of satisfaction they receive on completing the project. The financial rewards are substantial a self-builder providing all his own labor can save as much as 40 percent of the commercial value of the property on completion

The second type is the opposite of the first. This couple do not have the time, skill or inclination to build their house and are prepared to let someone else do it for them. If they want a traditional bricks-and-mortar house they will probably engage an architect who will draw up the plans, obtain the necessary approvals, appoint a contractor and supervise the building works. Alternatively, the couple may approach a firm specializing in timber-framed houses and choose one of the hundreds of house designs available. These firms offer a range of services from supplying only the frame to building the complete house and handing over the key when it is finished – sometimes called a turnkey contract for obvious reasons.


Most people who have built their own homes have a plot-hunting story to tell. Finding a plot of land is probably the most difficult part of the self-building operation. The first and most important lesson to learn is that you won’t find a plot by waiting for it to come and find you! Anything less than an aggressive whole-hearted approach to the search will almost certainly end in failure. There are various ways to go about finding a plot and some of them are listed below but perseverance is essential however you decide to go about it.

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