The Federation of Master Builders

Do's and Don'ts for self build success

Published date: 04 July 2017

Who hasn’t dreamt of building their own house, especially when tempted by television programmes such as Grand Designs and Amazing Spaces?

If you like the idea of creating a home that suits you in terms of design, budget, and lifestyle, then self build could be for you. Whether you are wanting to create a great home on a modest budget or a unique state of the art build, there are a number of dos and don’ts that you should be aware of if you want to make a dream home, a reality.

Do invest expertise. A self build project is building for yourself, not necessarily building by yourself, so unless you have trained extensively as an architect or you are a skilled in a construction trade, it’s always best to seek professional help. Whether you are hiring an architect or tradesman this is one step you should not skimp on, as it cost to be very costly in the long run. Investing in expertise and experience will ensure the needs of you are your family are met and your project runs smoothly.

Do aim for a simple design if you would like a more cost-effective build. Opting for a more traditional design, such as a square or rectangular building is not only more straightforward but highly affordable.

Do take a look at the new routes to home building such as Community Self Build, Custom Build, and other council or developer-led schemes. These can give you access to affordable plots, economies of scale and other advantages.

Do have a contingency plan in place, particularly for when hidden costs occur. Experts recommend having a 10 to 15 per cent contingency fund of your overall budget in place for unexpected costs during the project, such as additional foundation requirements or unavoidable delays.

Do protect your build by taking out a 10 year structural warranty. FMB Insurance 10 year policy protects owners of new homes from structural defects and construction issues, tailoring every policy to the particular development.  

Don’t skimp on the essentials such as bricks, roof covering, windows and hard flooring's. These are likely to be one-time investments, so it’s critical you get the most appropriate and the best you can afford. Find other alternative ways of saving costs such as bulk-buying materials or finding cheaper alternatives via websites such as Enviromate.

Don’t assume DIY will be cheaper. If you don’t have the skills to do a good job then don’t. It’ll be even worse if poor-quality DIY is carried out as not only will be more costly but it may also delay your project. Use a professional who has the right skills to carry out this work. The Federation of Master Builders Find a Builder service is a great tool for finding a vetted specialist.

Advice for self builders is easily available online via Self Build Portal

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