Can’t quite find the perfect house? Building a brand new property from scratch can be a brilliant way to achieve the home of your dreams. If you’re considering embarking on a new build project, planning is vital to avoid months of delays, heartache and potentially even financial ruin. Here are a few steps to help point you in the right direction.Plan your budget

1. Plan your budget

Be honest with yourself. How much can you afford to spend and how much is it likely to cost? Can you cope with such a large financial commitment?

There are lots of costs to think about when you’re considering building a new house. There’s the cost of the land, planning fees, material costs, labour, decorating to name but a few. You also need to think about things like where you’re going to live whilst the build is happening and how you’re going to fund that as well as the build.

As part of this budgeting process, you’re likely to need to consider your approach to the project. Are you hoping to do any of the work yourself, either in terms of actually building things, or in terms of managing the project, or will you be working with a team of professionals? Doing some work yourself can save you money, but it can also be very time-consuming, stressful and may mean the project takes longer to complete. There are certain stages of the project where the value of professional help shouldn’t be underestimated. Professionally created plans, for example, can save a lot of mistakes further down the line.

You may need to investigate whether you can secure finance, such as a self-build mortgage. Unlike a traditional mortgage, these tend to release money in stages so you’re able to pay for land, labour and materials as the build progresses. You’re likely to need a chunky deposit to secure a self-build mortgage, but they can be a real help.

You may find that you need to modify your plans to meet your budget, but the key thing is to be realistic from the start. Make sure you include at least 10% contingency to cover any unforeseen costs.

2. Pick your plot

Once you’re confident that you can afford a self-build project, the fun really starts! Obviously, you’re going to need somewhere to build your house. You’ll almost always need to do this before you start working on any floor plans as things like soil conditions, drainage and planning conditions might have an impact on what you can do.

At this stage, you need to think carefully about what you want from your new home. Is it somewhere peaceful and remote, or a vacant plot in a town centre? It can be easy to get swept up in the idea of a beautiful location, but take some time to think about local amenities, access, commuting distance and other factors which will affect you on a daily basis when you’re living there.

Planning permission is another really important consideration at this stage – there’s no point owning a great piece of land if you’re not going to be allowed to build on it. Getting outline planning permission before you actually buy the land is a really sensible idea. You might even find a plot that already has outline planning permission in place. If that’s the case, just make sure the permission granted covers your requirements.

3. Pick who you’re going to work with

Even if you’ve chosen to take on some of the new build work yourself, you’re still likely to need some professional help from time to time. Working with a team of experts who understand your requirements, who you trust and who you get on with can make the difference between a successful build and a disaster, so do your research.

You might need an architect, a surveyor, a builder and various contractors to contribute at different stages of the project. Some people start with finding the right builder as they may be able to recommend other professionals they’ve worked with before to help you build your team.

4. Negotiate contracts

Before you start any paid work with any of your chosen team, make sure you have written, signed and dated contracts in place which include details of the project. You might find you need to do this with your architect at an earlier stage to making a formal agreement with your builder. In all instances, make sure you get a price for the whole job, estimated dates for completion and confirmation of when any staged payments will be due.

Remember to amend this contract if details of the work change as the project progresses.

5. Pick a plan

Working with an architect or house designer is a good idea to make sure the plans for your house are practical and achievable. It is possible to choose a design from a catalogue, or you might consider a kit home (they tend to be quicker and easier to build). Alternatively, you can let your imagination run riot and come up with a completely custom-designed home. The important thing is to think about it carefully and plan for the future.

If you already have a builder on board, it can really help to ask them to mark the plan out on your plot so you visualise the room sizes and flow of the house. This is something we’re always happy to do for our clients and it can be a huge help in making you feel confident that your design is going to work for you.

6. Get approval

With plans in place, you can apply for full planning permission. The full construction proposal will need to be agreed in detail. It’s vital that you do this before you begin any of the work.

If plans subsequently change, you may need to submit further plans for approval.

Once planning permission has been granted, you’ll usually need to then submit your plans for building regulations approval too before you start work.

7. Check if you need insurance

You may need insurance to protect anyone working on the site. Your best bet is to speak to an insurance broker to make sure you’re covered for all the right things.

8. Start the build

It may have felt like a long time coming, but now it’s time to get started on the build! Depending on your plot, the first stage might be preparing it for the work: clearing vegetation, levelling the ground and taking care of any drainage issues. Loosely speaking, the project is then likely to fall into five main stages:

  • Foundation work
  • Getting the house wind and weather tight (roof on, windows and doors in)
  • The first fix (the initial services, structural carpentry, plastering)
  • The second fix (work carried out after plastering)
  • Final decoration.

Don’t forget to get in the building inspector at the appropriate stages to inspect for building regs. You’re likely to encounter some problems along the way, but careful planning before the work starts should help minimise these issues and help keep the project on track. Of course, there’s no accounting for things like weather or illness. That’s where having a bit of patience will pay off!

9. Reclaim your VAT

If you purchase building materials for a self-build, they’re exempt from VAT so you can claim the VAT back at the end of the project. This can be a significant sum of money, so keep records to prepare for this.

10. Move in!

A couple more things to remember. Firstly, get your completion certificate from building control. You’ll also need one or other of the following:

  • An NHBC guarantee certificate
  • A surveyors or architects certificate with a 10 year guarantee.

Your mortgage provider will need to see one of these to indemnify the property. If you’re not getting a mortgage, it’s still a good idea to have one of these certificates, even if you plan to stay there for over 10 years, as they act as a form of protection against any faults which may appear in the future.

Now sit back and enjoy your new home!