Build Advice

Preparation

Before you start building your own home there are a number of things that have to be organised. Your site will need to be cleared, so a digger and a lorry for soil removal will be needed. Safety is important during your build, both for people working on the site and for members of the public.

Safety First
Do you need to hire lockable storage & site fencing? Your insurance may not cover you if you don't. A safety fence to keep the site and materials stored on it secure, and the general public out, is a good idea. If you have no secure storage available, a lockable store for tools and equipment will be needed.

Entrance and Access
If you have arranged for delivery of ready-mixed concrete, is your site accessible? Don't just think about your site, what about the roads on the approach?

If you are considering using a timber frame or SIPs system, can an articulated lorry reach your plot? Nearly all system homes are delivered on articulated trucks, as are many trusses. Make sure your suppliers are aware if you think access might be difficult. Get them to check!

If you are building in the winter a driveway or entrance can become a quagmire, will you need to put some hardcore down as temporary access on site?

Health & Safety
Health & Safety Guidelines - who is responsible for site safety? If you are employing a number of different sub-contractors rather than one main contractor, it may well be you who is responsible!

Building Control Application
Generally, you can't start work without approval by your local council; you can however, apply to start under a 'Builders Notice' giving them 48 hours warning. It will all depend on the type of project you are undertaking.

Electricity & Water Supply
Electricity is not essential in the early stages but is very useful as the building progresses. Many hand tools use re-chargeable batteries, but heavy-duty tools need power. If you cannot arrange for a temporary supply you might need to hire-in a generator. Remember that many tools on site are 110 volts and you might need to make sure that you have a transformer.

Water is essential on site and if you haven't already arranged for a stopcock and standpipe, you will need to locate a temporary source by agreement with a neighbour to fill the water butts. Alternatively, you can hire a bowser.

Equipment
Have you hired or purchased the key equipment you need? If you are building a timber frame house; you will need a crane. Some suppliers will arrange this for you, some don't.

Who's organising the scaffolding? What size mixer do the brickies want? Bear in mind that during the course of the build, a number of these items may be needed at short notice so ensure there is adequate space for them.

Key Points

  • Site Insurance: accidents & theft from building sites is very common. Before starting make sure you have site insurance in place.
  • Access: the way into the site needs to be at least 3m wide to allow lorries to get in.
  • Overhead cables: watch out for any overhead cables. They may have to be moved or sleeved.
  • Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs): before clearing the site check whether or not any of the trees on site have TPO's on them.
  • Services: check for existing site services - gas, electricity and water
  • Site investigation: is one necessary or advisable?
  • Structural Warranty: make sure that this has been arranged if you intend to sell your property within 10 years.
  • Health & Safety Guidelines: have you identified who is responsible for site safety?