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Tips on Planning
- Don’t be scared of Planning officers or the application process – although getting planning approval took its time, it’s worth consulting with Planning Officers who can offer sensible advice.
- Make sure that your planning approval reflects exactly what you want before starting to build!
- Engage and communicate regularly with your neighbours during the planning stages to try to alleviate any local resistance to your plans
Tips on Trades & Buying Materials
- Ask the builder for advice on the things that matter – their experience is invaluable and its much easier to make changes if they have bought into it
- If you’re lucky enough to have tradesmen in the family then use them if you can, even if you only know a couple of trades and they’re a ‘specialist’ they are still likely to know and work with other reliable tradesmen or women, so they might be able to help you keep the costs down to a degree
- Buy materials direct and use local trades where you can and pay them on a pre-agreed price
- Don’t let the builders or tradesmen bully you into doing things their way
- A full set of detailed construction drawings is essential so there is no confusion with any of the trade’s onsite and to ensure that you don’t get stung with hidden extras
- Read the small print of your builders quotes / contracts very carefully
- Don’t be afraid to tell tradesmen you are not happy with their work
- Shop around and negotiate as there are always good deals to be had
- Be realistic with your build costs. Always shop around, get full quotes and negotiate with suppliers
- Write notes at every trade meeting you have as the goal posts have a habit of changing later on
- Don’t be afraid to take on jobs yourself as it saves money
- Get at least 3 prices from contractors
- Buy a cheap van to transport materials
- If you’re going with a timber frame solution, go for a ‘supply & erect’ deal from the frame manufacturer, you will not pay VAT, and you will save the builder mark-u
Tips on Budgets
- Don’t set your standards too high – extravagant fixtures & fittings can tip you over budget!
- Once you’ve decided on a budget, stick to it. If you have a bit of wriggle room on expenditure, up the specification on the things that will be there permanently, and will benefit you long term
- Don’t get carried away with ‘image’ unless you can afford it, a £15 internal door blocks an opening just as well as a £250 door, so if the budget is tight, go for the cheaper one and upgrade at a later date when the pressure’s off
- Understand your project fully – always put a contingency in and stick to your budget
- Be prepared for the build to cost more and take longer than originally anticipated
Tips on Finance
- Get the best financial advice for your project by using a qualified self build mortgage adviser
- If you are self-employed, get your own personal finances in order before starting the mortgage process so that this paperwork doesn’t delay your application
- Keep the site tidy as it’s much easier to see any snags which need fixed
- Use an independent building regulations company – it costs but is worth every penny
- For those who don’t have a knowledge of the industry, employ a qualified PM, architect or trusted builder to manage the site and work closely with them
- Make sure that everyone involved in the project is kept in the loop, especially with timescales
- You can never have too many electrical sockets!
- Always expect the unexpected – for example, utilities presented us with our biggest challenge
- It will all be worth it in the end!