5 ways to get started on your self-build journey

1. Find your plot

This can often be the most challenging part of a self-build journey, as it must be the right plot for you in terms of size, location, planning requirements and of course, price. Firstly, register for free with plotbrowser.com. This is a really useful website, as you can save your criteria and PlotBrowser will notify you whenever a relevant site comes on the market. Most plots come with planning information and satellite imagery, so you really know what you're getting yourself into. Keep an open mind and be patient; it might take some time to find the perfect plot. Another thing you can do is sign up to the Right to Build register with your local authority. By indicating your interest in building in the area, the council is obligated to take this demand into account by creating further plots, either by approving development on public land or by granting approval to other existing schemes.

2. Get to know the jargon

Ensure you understand the difference between different types of planning consent. This is something to be aware of, especially if you have an exact design in mind. Outline permission lacks detail, and if granted, further approval must be sought for the technicalities of the build. If your plot is in a Conservation Area or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, be prepared for some less than smooth sailing, as extra planning controls will apply. If you are unsure, consult your local planning authority for advice.

3. Be clear on your budget

Budget is understandably the most worrying aspect of a self build, causing more delays to projects than anything else. Learn to prioritise and negotiate to make the most out of your build in the time you have. Try your best to stick to your budget, but don't worry too much if you come across hidden costs later down the line; these are very common and help is out there. Numerous banks and lenders offer mortgages specifically tailored to self build. Self-build mortgages differ to the normal variety, as the money is released in stages, traditionally in arrears, as the project progresses. Buildstore is one of the major players in this field, so make sure you check out its website for advice.

4. Make sure the project is right for you

Decide what type of project you want to take on, and whether you want to take a back seat or maintain complete control. While some self builders prefer to purchase some land and start from the ground up, others may take a derelict barn and convert it into something larger, more contemporary or original in design. Have you considered taking a turnkey approach, where you have full control of the design, but use the experts to make it happen? Another method is custom build, which is becoming increasingly popular. This more hands-off approach allows you to create a home to suit your needs and budget, all facilitated by a developer. Whatever your decision, make sure you are comfortable, and factor this into your budget and schedule accordingly.

5. Visit the SelfBuild & Design Show

Whether you're keen to get started straight away, or are still deciding, check out the SelfBuild & Design Show, coming to Westpoint, Exeter on September 7th and 8th. This is the perfect event for anyone contemplating a new build, renovation, conversion or major extension, with free seminars and masterclasses running throughout the weekend, along with ask an expert one-to-ones and a huge variety of exhibitors covering all aspects of self build. Get two free tickets to the show by following this link and entering the code SBSW9RGB.

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