Building Your Own Home

Many builders find it easier to build a new home, than renovate an older property, as there are fewer unknowns, more definite costs and fewer distractions such as homeowners living in the house! However for homeowners a complete self-build project is usually far more complicated.

“I would only build new houses, if I could, but self-build plots are few and far between,” says FMB Master Builder of the Year Awards 2006 regional winner Jim Paton of Waterford Builders, based in the stockbroker belt of Billericay in Essex.

“Building a house from scratch is so much easier than a renovation. Once you price the job, it stays on budget because there are no unknowns and it’s so much easier to plan.

“You also don’t have people living in the house at the same time, which adds extra pressure. With a new build, provided that the groundwork and planning go well, you can give your client a finish date and an end budget that are spot on,” Jim added.

For the homeowner, a complete self-build project starts with finding a plot, organising a self-build mortgage and securing planning permission. Careful choice of architect, builder and tradespeople is crucial, as is making sure you have insurance, warranties and that you are eligible to claim the tax back. Then the work begins….

We talked to three self-builders who highlighted important factors in the success of their projects:

Good organisation and courteous, flexible builders

Mr Lumby identified good organisation as key to the success of his stunning, nautically-themed three bedroom home in an area of outstanding natural beauty overlooking a creek near Truro in Cornwall.

The construction of his ‘ship-like’ home required a great deal of organisation and difficult structural decisions.

Mr Lumby chose his building firm MJR Construction, carefully and was delighted with the results. He praised them for their standards of workmanship, for customer care from each member of the team, from foreman to apprentice, and for their ability to respond to each day’s problems. He said: “The design for an individual property on a steeply sloping creekside position needed a great deal of organisation and posed difficult structural decisions. All this was achieved with humour, courtesy and quiet efficient professionalism.”

Getting good advice

David Rammell chose Birmingham building firm Ansam Construction Ltd, of Bromsgrove, to build a stunning detached Georgian-style property in Worcester for his family.

Once he had hired his builders, David looked to them for guidance and advice in all aspects of the building project – from design to materials.

He said: “We developed a good relationship with Ansam from our very first meeting, which filled us with trust and confidence in their ability and knowledge. Their help, guidance and advice, along with their attention to detail and finish made our dream home real.”

Good diplomacy skills

Careful handling of dealings with neighbours, particularly in busy towns and cities, can mean the difference between getting the home you want and a severe compromise.

Mario Savva wanted an unusual, but magnificent, five bedroom family home built in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, with large areas of structural glazing to allow light to flood in.

He said his London building firm, JPF Clarke of Crouch End not only did outstanding work on an unusual contemporary home, but were also extremely diplomatic in dealings with the neighbours.

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