Further advice for prospective DIY builders

Stacks has further advice for prospective DIY builders once you have found a potential plot :

  • Do your sums. On completion, would you be able to sell the property and cover all your costs?
  • Look extremely carefully into all planning issues. If outline planning permission exists on the site, don’t assume you can radically change the detail or the size of the footprint. If there is no planning permission, go direct to the appropriate planning authority to find out what you could expect to be granted – don’t rely on the word of the vendor or the estate agent.
  • Obtain detailed estimates of your likely costs, and bear in mind that you will almost certainly go over budget.
  • Factor in the time element. 95% of building projects fall behind schedule. Where will you be living while the building work takes place, and how will you finance both homes?
  • Accept that some compromises will be necessary – budget and planning restrictions may prevent the finished house being exactly what you envisaged. Also, assume that there will be unforeseen problems at some stage of the build – it is rare that everything goes exactly according to plan.
  • Don’t think you can mastermind the build yourself – surround yourself with a good team including architect, project manager and builders. Ensure you, and everyone on the team, agree as to where responsibilities start and finish.
  • Don’t be seduced by TV programmes that make building projects look easy.
  • Don’t let your thinking stop at the exterior walls – plan the grounds and gardens at an early stage, and appreciate that it will be some time before your plans come to fruition.
  • Don’t make your designs too quirky or individual as this will make resale difficult.
  • Beware development scams. There have been recent examples of ¼ acre plots of agricultural land ‘with development potential’ being sold for £25,000 where the chances of any planning permission being granted within a reasonable investment life cycle are close to zero.

If you’ve got plenty of cash, time, patience and flair; if you’ve done the sums, and if you’ve made contingency plans, then go ahead and enjoy the experience – building your own home can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

And don’t forget, you can always call on the professionals :

We can be invaluable in finding land for prospective self builders. Not only will you be first to hear when a potential site is coming to the market, you will also be viewed as a serious buyer by any agent involved.

Our strong relationships with local estate agents often ensures that we hear about land for sale before, or as soon as, it comes onto the market. Estate agents are often keen to involve buying agents in land sales that are notoriously difficult to market. A piece of land, or dilapidated building, that is difficult to photograph and present, may attract a lot of interest, but often much of the interest comes from buyers who aren’t serious.

A buying agent’s local contacts are essential to finding building plots. Land often sells by word of mouth within the local area so a serious buyer needs to have eyes and ears in the area on a daily basis.

As buying agents, we also ensure buyers aren’t making a big mistake. Buyers are often so excited to find a suitable plot that they overlook problems and disadvantages, especially locational, in the joy of the moment! We can also help with planning issues, and look at the costs involved compared with the likely finished value of the property.

Ensure you understand the jargon  you encounter in the property market.

Explore ‘Our Offices’ to find where we can help you find the perfect location for your self-build.

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