BuildStore - self build, renovation & home improvement

James Wragg

Finding the right plot of land is often the greatest obstacle to building the home of your dreams. But for James Wragg, it was simply a case of looking over the wall of a pub’s beer garden!

Unable to afford a move to a larger property in the area and with growing family demands, James was initially thinking about buying a renovation project but while enjoying a pint one Sunday afternoon, James looked over the beer garden wall and discovered an overgrown, vacant plot of land. Although having had no great desire to self-build, James - a registered Chartered Building Surveyor and Project Manager with City Estates (UK) Ltd- was familiar with the process and, realising that this presented an ideal opportunity to build an affordable, forever family home in their desired location of Nether Edge, Sheffield, put the wheels in motion.

The following day, James conducted a land registry search to ascertain land ownership, which subsequently revealed it being the property of the pub’s brewery. With the brewery agreeing to a private purchase agreement subject to planning permission, James initially contacted council planners to seek pre-application advice. With the land being in a conservation area, and a plethora of Edwardian / Victorian properties in the immediate vicinity, it was stipulated that any new build had to be in-keeping, so James did some legwork, viewed local properties and presented plans that met with requirements.

It was at this time that James had to consider how to finance this project. Having used savings to buy the land, James initially sought mortgage advice from his brother-in-law who is an Independent Financial Adviser. Upon his advice, James approached Buildstore as it offered specialist self build finance solutions that met his particular requirements. Choosing Buildstore’s exclusive Accelerator Mortgage with Newcastle Building Society, which provides advance stage payments during the build process to aid cash flow, presented James with an affordable and manageable repayment plan whilst allowing his family to remain living in their current home.

Having drawn up and submitted his own plans, James set about his first self-build project in April 2014 with the help of his father-in-law, family and friends. Keen to ensure that the build was to his exacting standards and ‘be right first time’, James conducted the entire build project on his own - from digging the foundations, to sourcing construction fabric and materials, employing contractors and project management - working whenever time would allow in the evenings, weekends and holidays.

Keen to use locally sourced and sustainable materials and use local trades where possible, James took to the internet to identify local manufacturers and suppliers, finally deciding upon a SIPs timber frame system from Leeds-based Shire Timber, reclaimed weathered Yorkshire sandstone from a demolished chapel in Dewsbury, windows and doors from Arundel Joinery in Sheffield, Pagets Builders Merchants, local roofing contractors and a brickmason who lived three doors down!

“Choosing a SIPs frame was one of the best decisions I made as it removed all the headache and hassle associated with construction - as part of the package, the panels came fully insulated to site and the structure was erected within two weeks by Shire Timber, complete with interior walls and partitioning. Luckily with favourable weather, we were able to make it wind and watertight in a matter of weeks, allowing for first fix and interior fixtures and finishes to commence.”

Currently on the internal fit-out stage (installing kitchen, bathrooms, etc), James is aiming to move the family in to their new home by the New Year. A recent valuation of his four bedroom, three storey home of £450,000 sees James achieving a pleasing profit of just over £200,000.

Although this has been a relatively smooth first self build, aided by the favourable weather conditions, there were some obstacles that James had to address, including the relocation of BT overhead cables to enable the SIPs frame to be erected on-site and the time-consuming aspect of measuring each stone before laying.

Upon reflection, James has thoroughly enjoyed building his family their forever home, and would impart the following tips to anyone considering a self build project:

  • Obtain as much information/knowledge as possible and if funds allow, employ a Project Manager to take charge of the build. Co-ordinating deliveries, schedules and supplier payments all take additional time!
  • Use local contractors where possible
  • Open up a trade account with local merchants - with 30 days on account, it makes all the difference when juggling finances & supplier payments
  • Try to get a merchant that will deliver on time - as its half the battle to have materials there when you need them, even when you’ve ordered the day before!
  • Make friends with the neighbours and keep them informed of what you are doing - ours liked the design of our house and even supplied essential water during the build

 

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