How to get started on your timber self-build

Published Tuesday 02nd August 2016

Timber frame construction is favoured for self-build projects due to its durability, speed of erection, excellent thermal efficiency, sound performance and of course its considerable advantages over traditional building methods where environmental issues are concerned.

While building your own home from scratch can be an exciting prospect, knowing where to start can be off-putting for some. In this guide, we offer some advice on where to begin with your self-build project.

Research

While you're probably keen to start, it pays to do your due diligence when it comes to research.

Thankfully, there’s lots online resources available to budding self-builders to help you. Some of the best places to look include:

Where

With recent government initiatives to spur on self-builds in the UK, practically every local authority will now have a register of available plots in their area. You can also sign up to a council's register of self-builders and get alerts when new plots become available. Useful sites like PlotBrowser can locate suitable plots all over the country.

TIP: make sure the plot you choose already has outline planning permission, as there's no guarantee you'll be able to acquire this later if you opt to buy one without.

How

Unless you're an architect yourself, you'll need to pick an architect to help realise your self-build dreams. They'll be the one responsible for interpreting your plans and can help in various ways when it comes to the logistics of the build.

Once you've picked an architect, you'll need to convey your ideas to them and this is carried out by producing a briefing document – essentially a big ‘to-do’ list that evolves throughout the planning process, as you work out with your architects what you can afford.

It’s important to establish a realistic budget and include a sensible contingency - about 10% of your overall budget. This can be used towards completion of the project for upgrading interior fittings etc.

Once you've got a rough idea of your project pinned down, it's time to pursue planning. Whether you're conducting a renovation or a build from scratch – you'll need to obtain the necessary permissions from your local authority.

Planning laws differ depending what country of the UK you're in and can be influenced by policies governing what can be built in a locality put into force by a local authority.

Before you've got the go-ahead it's worth putting the feelers out in terms of contractors and other workmen you'll be outsourcing the build to (as well as how much you'll be taking on yourself). Whoever you choose to help you, take time to check them out and insist on no hidden extras.

But most importantly, never be put off by the fact you have no experience of building - most self-builders and converters are in the same boat- so dream big, we can’t to hear about your project!

And You?

If you've completed a self-build project and have tips to share, or want to pose any questions about the issues we've talked about above – be sure to get in touch.

And if you're looking for the right material for your self-build project, you’ll want to check our range of timber here.