The process of custom-building

If you’d love to design your own home, but the time and money you’d need to invest in undertaking the project are out of your reach, custom-build may be the happy medium you’re looking for.

A custom-build home is one where you have input into the design, but which you build with a developer instead of on your own. A fair amount of the work you would have to do as a self-builder is therefore done for you. The developer will normally find the land, obtain planning permission, get road access put in place and get the site connected to all the utilities – water, gas, electricity, mains sewerage, broadband and telephone.

Michael Holmes, chairman of the National Custom and Self-Build Association, told www.homebuilding.co.uk: “Custom-build is much more straightforward than self-build. You have perhaps fewer choices but you also have a great deal more assistance from a developer.”

Here we’ll talk you through the process of custom-building.

Decide how much involvement you want

Custom-building is a wide spectrum, covering varying levels of involvement in the building of your home, depending both on what you want and how the developer works. Some custom builders use their own architect and builder to build the home once they’ve bought the plot. Others work with the developer to design the home, then leave the developer to build it for them, either partly or fully. Some developers will give you virtually free rein with the design; with others you’re more limited.

Finding a plot

There may be developments in your area offering custom-builds – or you can use a custom-build company, which will help you find a plot. If you’re choosing between companies, look at the style of homes they build and the level of involvement they expect from you to make sure it matches what you want.

You should put your name down on your district and borough council’s custom and self-build register, which is a list of people who would like to build their own home, at www.righttobuildportal.org.uk. Your council has a responsibility to make sure there is enough land available for the number of people on its list.

Custom-building as a group

Another option which is becoming more popular is a group of people working together to build a set of homes, often with help from a developer. This can lead to a development with a good community feel, and you may have a say in the features of the development as a whole, such as the green spaces. Economies of scale can make it beneficial financially too.

Arranging finance

Some custom-build companies will help you arrange finance, or you may have to do so yourself, probably through a specialist self-build lender.

Self-build homes and custom-builds are exempt from a charge called the community infrastructure levy, effectively a tax on new builds to pay for facilities like schools and hospitals. You also only pay stamp duty on the value of the land, which means you pay nothing if the land is worth less than £125,000.

South east London architects Bluelime Home Design has been designing new homes, extensions, conversions and renovations for 13 years – and now has offices in DartfordBromleyErithBexley and Croydon. Call us on 01322 517632 to book a free architect consultation.

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