Self Build: Key Decisions And The Importance Of Establishing A Strong Team

The opportunity to build your own home from scratch is a dream for many. It means being able to create a home, totally unique to you, tailored to your specific needs and taste. You get to build it around your own lifestyle and include features that work for you.

The design goes past just aesthetics, you have the scope to be able to construct a building that incorporates the latest technologies to make it super environmentally and economically friendly.

Obviously, there are a few hurdles that may deter you from deciding to take on a self-build project. Things like lack of buildable land and the cost of said land is certainly a factor. A lot of the time people are just daunted by the entire process. It is a big step to take and it requires building the right team that will work for you and that you can trust to do an amazing job.

How should a project be delivered?

One of the first considerations regarding your project should be how you decide it should be delivered. There are a few options available, but the deciding factor tends to be down to your construction knowledge, experience of the industry, your budget and most importantly how much time you have available to commit to it.

You may choose to build the house yourself, which will almost certainly result in a longer, more drawn out process. But if you had the knowledge and time to do it this way it would almost certainly be the cheapest option (barring any unforeseen issues).

Others opt to project manage the build themselves but use sub-contractors to take on individual packages. Instructing and managing your own electricians, plumbers and bricklayers and being based on site every day. It would be rewarding if you wished to be a constant presence on site but it can be a stressful position. You would need a good level of experience and construction knowledge behind you to take manage the project yourself.

Who should you choose to manage the project?

There is also of course the main contractor approach – appointing a company to take on the whole project on your behalf. This is great and certainly mitigates a lot of risk but you do then relinquish a lot of control and some contractors can then become very cold in letting your remain involved in the build (not SM5, we love working with our clients and encourage them to be as involved as they would like to be).

Most of our clients tend to be super hands on during the design phase (the most fun part for sure) and then much less so during the early construction phase. As we say above, we encourage client involvement through-out the entire process, but it does certainly seem to dip during some of the heavier and noisier periods of the build … particularly if its winter!! It is great to see the excitement during the closing phases though when paint is going up and flooring is going down.

Regardless of which route you take … the entire process needs careful thought and tonnes of planning. There is a lot to consider and big decisions need making well before any construction works can start. This is where we feel it is imperative to surround yourself with a good team. Do a lot of research and ensure you appoint people that you feel comfortable working and sharing ideas with.

Appointing a good architect is a must!

Appointing a good architect is an absolute must. Not only will a good architect ensure that your building works spatially, economically, ergonomically etc … but they will be able to help you make key decisions on how your building is constructed.

Choosing your superstructure is essentially choosing the make up of your new build. The bones if you will. Usually it will have very little impact on the aesthetics of the finished article but choosing the right construction system will determine how your house works. Your architect will be able to advise you on the pros and cons of masonry or timber frame, going down the pre fabricated structural insulated panels (SIPs) route, insulated concrete formwork or opting for an oak frame … the list goes on.

Planning permission is essential

You will obviously need planning permission before you can build. A good planning consultant will be able to submit your architectural designs. It seems obvious but make sure you know you can build on a plot before you purchase. The last thing you want is being told you cannot only not your submitted design, but you in fact can’t build at all!

Your new home will need to adhere to building regulations. To ensure this is all done correct a building control inspector should be appointed who will visit site at various stages to inspect and ensure that the building work is compliant. They will usually visit at the stages of excavating the foundations, pouring of the concrete, building the oversite, installing the damp proof course, installing drainage and then before and after completion. Getting building control sign off means that you as the owner/client, knows that the building work has been carried out in a compliant manner and is to industry regulation.

Loosing the plot with service providers!

As project managers on a new build we can say with some certainty that one of the biggest headaches is often dealing with the utility companies to get new supplies pulled into your property. These supplies such as gas, electric, water and drainage are obviously paramount to the build taking place but can feel a bit like herding cats trying to get it all sorted!

There is clearly a lot to consider when starting the new build process, and it may feel daunting but from experience we know that all our clients would say it is absolutely worth it. The key is just getting your team right from the start. Appointing a solid and trustworthy team early on will make your life and the entire process much smoother.

We have been called in on a number of new build projects in the past where the client has had enough of their builder and has had to make the difficult decision to part ways with them mid project. This is tough for everyone involved and the programme will usually suffer.

SM:5 Developments always appoint a project manager at the very start of any project. They will work closely with the client throughout the entire process to tie everything together and make sure things run smoothly. During the design stage, instructing and managing the utility companies, working with architects and suppliers … SM:5 will be on hand to help take care of it all.

If you are reading this and thinking of taking on a self-build project and would like to talk through any of the above … please do not hesitate to get in touch. We would be more than happy to quote any works; help find suppliers or even just offer our advice on whether you should proceed.

 11th February 2022
fit-out / aftercare / leisure & retail / healthcare

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