5 misconceptions about self-build homes debunked

Home under construction on a building site in the country

Choosing a self-build home over a new build may not be as problematic as you originally thought. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Paul Newman, director at self-build housing company Potton in Great Gransden, talks through five of the main myths and concerns about self-build homes. 

Myth: It’s better to buy a new home from a developer. 
Paul says: Perhaps, but not always

It is easier to buy a new home from a developer than have one built for you, so if you intend to build a new home that replicates the look and quality of a standard developer home, then you may as well do just that. 

However, if you self-build you get to create a design that works for you and the plot of land you’re building on, and which works within planning policy too. 

There are different ways to go about self-builds to suit inclination and budget and whether you want to be hands on or not. You’re also in control - if you don’t like what’s happening you can stop it and change it. 

Myth: It’s impossible to find a plot. 
Paul says: Actually, it’s not.

Finding a plot is relatively easy. Finding a plot that is right for you, without making massive compromises is somewhat harder, and then finding a plot and making it your own is a bit tricky.  

Be prepared to compromise and think creatively and problem solve when you’re looking at land.

Think about what is putting other people off that plot and if that matters to you or can you overcome it.  

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Talk to estate agents, local builders, and to architects and planners as well. Quite often they will be looking to secure planning permission on land they know will go up for sale in the future.  

Walk, ride and drive around the area you are interested in and lookout for replacement dwellings and garden grabs as these are the two most popular ways people find plots of land.   

Myth: You’ll never get planning permission. 
Paul says: You will.  

Getting planning consent can be very straightforward, as long as you do your homework. 

It all depends on the individual plot and where it is situated. If it’s in the middle of open countryside then, on the balance of probability, you won’t get planning approval for a new house – but then again, what you have is not so much a building plot, more a field. 

If you’ve bought a building plot then it should already have outline planning consent for a home or a very good chance of getting it as it will already be within the settlement development boundary. 

Myth: It’s only for the rich. 
Paul says: If you can afford to buy a house in your desired area, then you can afford to build there too.

It is true that most self-builders tend to be more mature with access to a good level of equity. But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

If you’re younger with less cash, then you will probably need to borrow at a higher loan to value ration and if your income is also lower, then you’ll have to adjust your aspirations accordingly too.

While some self-builders spend eye-watering amounts building their own mini-palaces the average self-builder spends a little over £1,600/m2 on their new, bespoke home. 

Myth: You’re bound to go over budget. 
Paul says: Why would you?  

If you plan properly, buy products effectively and manage your self-build sensibly, then you shouldn’t go over budget. 

Most of us simply cannot afford to overspend in the Grand Design manner and it’s not the norm.  

Your risk point is in the ground. Even with a design foundation solution and the correct ground investigations, the ground is still the riskiest part of the build. 

If you have checked with local authority building control and your ground conditions are good, then chances are that risk won’t materialise, and in most cases it doesn’t.