Misconceptions About Building a Custom Home

It’ll take a decade to build, cost five times what you budgeted and fall down within six months. We take a look at some of the myths – and truths – about custom-building …

I need to be Sir Terence Conran

A custom-build home is one that you create yourself together with a developer – which means they support you through the process. The level of support depends on both the developer and you - options range from designing the home yourself or with an architect, to customising a developer’s basic design, just choosing things like your own layout and bathroom and kitchen designs. You can bring as much or as little to the project as you want and, while the more knowledge you have the better, you certainly don’t need design expertise.

It’s too expensive

This is true; building your own home is a big investment. The typical cost is generally estimated at roughly £1,500 to £2,000 per square metre, and the Royal Institute of British Architects’ minimum recommended size for a three-bedroom home is 93 square metres, so that would work out at £186,000; but you’ll probably want to build a home that’s nice and spacious, and buying a plot of land can cost as much again.

However, buying any house is a big investment these days – and with custom-builds, you’re getting a brand new home, personal to you and designed to modern energy efficiency standards. It might be expensive – although custom-build estate agency Custom Build Homes says it can actually work out up to 15 per cent cheaper than a like-for-like traditional home purchase – but in terms of value for money, it’s fantastic. It’s also worth pointing out that you’re in control of the budget and the design – so building your own home is to some extent as expensive as you make it.

I won’t be able to get a mortgage

Mainstream lenders can be reluctant to lend money on self-build homes, but such mortgages are available, often through small or specialist lenders. You may pay a higher interest rate than with a standard mortgage (usually between 4 per cent and 6.5 per cent) while the house is being built.

It takes too long

Again, this is true. Designing and building a home tailor-made for you will take longer than buying a home that already exists – the whole process might end up taking a year. But it will hopefully be worth waiting for – and not somewhere you’ll want to move from again for a long time.

I’m worried about being ripped off

Our advice on this is as ever – use reputable architects who will respect your wishes, not get carried away by grandiose designs that flatter their own egos, and trustworthy builders if you’re overseeing construction yourself. Ask for recommendations from people you know. Make sure your architect is a member of the Architects Registration Board and RIBA; for builders, look for members of the Federation of Master Builders or visit https://www.checkatrade.com/.

South east London architects Bluelime has been designing new builds, extensions, conversions and self-builds for 13 years – so we have plenty of experience in making the process of designing and building your own home a smooth one. We have offices in Dartford, Bromley, Bexley, Erith and Croydon –Get in contact to arrange a free architect consultation

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