Self build advice

From bats to bricks, budgets to building regulations, make sure you’ve thought about the following before you start work on your new home.

Follow orders

When your district or borough council gives you planning permission, there are likely to be conditions attached. You absolutely need to read and comply with these.

As well as applying for planning permission, you will need to make sure your home complies with building regulations, so you will need to let the council’s building control department know about your project. The legal deadline for this is 48 hours before you start work.

Think bat

It’s against the law to damage or interfere with a bat habitat, so if you are renovating somewhere where they might be living, you will need to have a survey done to check, as part of your planning application. Bats hibernate, so surveys can only be done between May and September. Make sure you budget for this, as it can cost thousands of pounds. And on that note...

Your project will cost more than you think

Self-builders should always have a contingency fund of at least 10 per cent of the cost of the project. Always order spare materials, too; we advise over-ordering on things like bricks and tiles by around 10 to 15 per cent.

Remember the British weather

The best plan is obviously to build in spring or summer, but even then, this being Britain, the weather can disrupt the best-laid plans. Be prepared for and able to accommodate delays.One good tip is to have rolls of hessian on hand to protect fresh mortar from frost. And check in advance where you can get your hands on a submersible pump, in case heavy rain waterlogs your foundation trenches.

Keep your site secure

A building site will have lots of valuable tools and materials around, so either you or your builders will need to make sure you have somewhere secure to keep them. You can hire a security cabin or even buy an old shipping container, as they can be good value. Parking a vehicle in front of the container doors, fitting an alarm or leaving a pile of bricks or gravel in front of the doors overnight will further help to dissuade thieves.

Tell your neighbours

Let them know what you’re planning to do, when work will take place and how long for, and who they can contact if there’s a problem at any time. This is just common courtesy, and prevents any bad feeling arising.

Power up

Connection to the utilities can be very expensive, yet surprisingly often it’s a cost people forget to factor in. Making sure you can access all the utilities you want, and finding out how long connection will take and how much it will cost, should really be done before you commit to a project; failing that you should do it as soon as possible. Never assume that you can tap into electricity, water and mains drainage just because nearby homes have them. This is not always the case!

Stay safe

Building sites are dangerous places. Make sure you and everyone else, including visitors, wear the right protective clothing. You should be able to buy a hard hat, steel toe-capped wellies, goggles, ear defenders and a high visibility vest for around £35.

Fill in your forms

Councils sometimes levy a charge on new builds, called the community infrastructure levy, but self-build homes are sometimes exempt. To apply for an exemption, you need to fill in three forms. The first is called part 1 of CIL form 7, and is for claiming your exemption; the second is called CIL form 6, and is to let the council know that work is starting. This is the one that a lot of people forget, and it needs to be submitted before you start the work. Finally you need to submit part 2 of form 7 within six months of completing the work.

If you’re unsure about the processes involved in building your own home, south east architects Bluelime Home Design can help. As experienced self-build architects, we know which boxes to tick and how best to proceed. Contact our offices in Dartford, Bromley, Erith, Bexley and Croydon to see how we can help.

Share this post