The idea of building your own home is a popular dream amongst Brits, with more than half the population liking the idea of building their own residence. Yet despite it being quite a common occurrence in other countries, the idea of the ‘self-build’ as it’s known here, remains a thing of fantasy for most. The cost, the hurdles that have to be jumped over and, possibly more than anything, the sheer stress of it all can out people off before they’ve even considered it properly. However, the Government is actively trying to encourage more self-builders so there’s never been a better time to make your dream home a reality.

Finding a plot

Of those who decide to pursue their self-build dream, 90% never get past the first hurdle – that is finding a suitable piece of land. However, there are ways of maximising your chances of finding a plot. You should check the local authority planning registers on a weekly basis to see which landowners are applying for permission – they might want to sell to you directly without paying agents’ fees if they aren’t intending to build on it themselves. Another smart trip is to use Google Maps to search for small houses on large plots – after all, any house is only a temporary occupant of a plot and could be replaced with your own new build. Try to narrow your search down to a relatively small area and then research diligently.

Designing the house

Getting the design right is obviously crucial. Aim to take in the local context and get an understanding for both the natural and human environment. This doesn’t mean having to sacrifice your vision but coming up with a dream home before you even have a site, which will bear all kinds of unique features, could lead to disappointment. You’ll also run the risk of having your plans rejected by the local planning authority. Work closely with a vetted builder and/or architect to collaborate on what your house will look like. Also, you should always remember that even if you are forced into maintaining a conservative exterior, your interior can be pretty much whatever you want it to be. A lot depends on how ‘hands on’ you want to be but the importance of a professional construction firm cannot be overstated.


Leaving yourself plenty of ‘fat’ in your budget as a contingency should be a core budgetary consideration. Prices will rise up beyond what you originally forecast. Most likely it won’t get used up in one disaster but in a succession of unexpected cost ‘creeps.’ Equally important is to design to budget and never lose sight of the potential resale value in determining how much you’re going to spend. Building bigger if you can afford it of course makes sense, but if you don’t leave yourself some room for financial maneuver, you’ll be in a precarious position where you might not even be able to complete the house.

And perhaps most importantly, be patient. There are going to be moments where you want to tear your hair out and where everything seems to be going wrong. Remember though, if you’ve found the right builder, the right plot of land and you’ve managed your budget properly, you'll triumph. You’ll have created your very own home, with all of the touches, features and flourishes that you wanted – and that has to be worth the effort.

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