How to Build Your Own House: Top 10 Considerations For Self Builders

When researching everything you need to consider when planning your own self build project, there is an overwhelming amount of information online and it can be difficult to know exactly where to start.

To help you on your way to building your own home, we have pulled together this handy guide highlighting all the top 10 considerations and areas you’ll need to research when understanding how to self build a house.

1. Find Land to Build Your Home On

One of the most obvious considerations when it comes to building your own house is finding the right land to build on. However, it’s worth understanding what your options are so you can consider the most appropriate avenues to go down.

There are a few ways to go about finding land for a self build project.

Land and Property Auctions

The traditional method of land & property auctions are a good place to find land for sale or dilapidated houses that you can demolish and rebuild upon.

In general, you will need to search for local land auctions in your area, or national online auctions, such as or, that usually take place at a scheduled date and time. It is a great way to find land for sale at reduced cost in some cases. 

Estate & Land Agents

Speaking to estate or land agents in your local area and registering interest with them so they can contact you as and when land becomes available.

Searching for “land agents” in your local area should bring up some local results of property and land agents.

Online Platforms

There are online methods to locate land for sale. Some popular places to start are Plotsearch and AddLand. These are online property databases and you can register to browse land for sale in your local area or area of interest.

In addition, it can also be worth speaking to any professionals you might be working with as part of your project, who can sometimes offer advice on where to buy land.

It’s worth noting that you should ensure you are looking at development land with planning permission, or land that is eligible for planning permission, rather than agricultural or rural land. 

2. Work Out Your Budget & Finances

Another thing that you should know about building your own home is that working out your budget and finances early on can help your project run more smoothly. There are several finance options available to people living in the UK who are looking to carry out their own self build including:

We put together a handy guide on How to Fund a Self Build that can help you understand your options in more detail.

You can also explore our article on How Much Self Builds Cost to help you work out budgeting.

3. Designing Your House & Hiring Architects

Designing your own house is probably the most exciting part of any self build project. Often, the reason people choose to self build is to have total freedom over the design of their own home and include all the features they desire that aren’t necessarily easy to come by with existing properties.

However, when building your own home, there are many considerations to take into account that can influence building design. For example, making sure the building is structurally sound, knowing what materials are best, understanding where certain connections need to be placed etc.

It is worth considering hiring architects who specialise in self building when designing your property. Hiring an architect can help you find the right balance between having control over the design of your house while making sure your design ideas are structurally sound and achievable within your budget.

In addition, your self build architect can ensure your designs are compliant with statutory obligations that are required, such as planning permission, party wall agreements and building regulations.

Our blog on how to find the right self build architect should give you some helpful tips when it comes to looking for a suitable architect for your self build project.

how to build your own house

4. Construction Method & Materials

There are various different construction routes to consider when it comes to building your own home, and which one you go for can be influenced by a number of factors, such as your budget or your design. 

1. Timber Frame

Timber frame houses constitute around 25% of new build homes in the UK today, and are a very popular option amongst self builders too. Timber framing is a quick, efficient and eco-conscious option for self-builders.

Pros and Cons of Timber Frame in Self Building >

2. Brick and Block

Properly named “Modern masonry”, brick and block is still the most popular home construction method in the UK to date. This is the conventional brickwork method, consisting of two layers of brickwork with a gap between them, usually filled with insulation, held together and laid upon a concrete foundation.

3. Insulating Concrete Formwork

Shortened usually to ICF, insulating concrete framework is a structure consisting of hollow blocks that are assembled and then filled with ready-mixed concrete. 

4. Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)

SIPs are made up of two layers of OSB (oriented strandboard) that are built around an inner insulating layer. They are commonly used throughout Europe and in the US, but have become increasingly more popular in the UK due to their benefits.

Pros and Cons of SIPs in Self Building >

construction materials for self building own home

5. Obtaining Planning Permission

Obtaining planning permission is a key consideration when building your own home, and this is something that you’ll need to make sure you consider and research before starting your project.

Essentially, planning permission is consent from your local council or authority to carry out your project. The purpose of planning permission is to ensure that unlawful or inappropriate developments don’t take place. 

There are a few different types of planning permission:

  • Full Application – This is the most common type and entails all details of the project being submitted with the application, including drawings and site plans.
  • Outline Application – Usually for larger development projects, this application types requires less detail and is rather to get a gauge as to whether a proposed project could be viable before making detailed plans.
  • Householder Application – This is for people wanting to carry out extensions or work in their home and garden area.
  • Reserved Matters Application – After Outline permission is granted, this application is for approval of the details that follow. I.e. information that was missing from the initial plan.

Often, if you are working with an architect or other building professional, they can help you with the planning permission process, and can often offer expert advice and experience when it comes to statutory obligations.

As stated on the website:

“If your project needs planning permission and you do the work without getting it, you can be served an ‘enforcement notice’ ordering you to undo all the changes you have made.”

Therefore, planning permission is not something that can be ignored or postponed and is a key consideration when it comes to planning your self build project. 

6. Hiring Builders to Build Your Home

The key to a successful self build is ensuring that you hire the right people to carry out the job. You’ve invested time and money into planning your project, so you want to make sure that you consider finding the right contractors to carry out the build for you.

Something that is important to note is that there are no specific qualifications that anyone needs before they set themselves up as a builder. Therefore, it’s very important to carry out research properly to make sure you have the right people for the job.

There are two main routes you can take with hiring builders:

General Builders

General builders can carry out all aspects of the building work and, generally, can be more expensive. However, having a general builder can take a lot of the pressure and responsibility off you to manage the project. 

Individual Trades

Alternatively, you can take on the project manager role and hire individuals with different trade skills to carry out the different aspects of the project. This is generally lower cost, but requires a lot more involvement from you.

FMB’s Find a Builder service can be a good place to start searching for builders: Furthermore, speaking to other self-builders can be another good way to find potentially valuable tradesman.

builder for self build projects

7. Self-Build Insurance and Warranties

Getting insurance for all aspects of your site build is an important consideration and something you must consider when planning to build your own home. Accidents and mistakes can happen, and a building site can be a particularly high-risk area. Therefore, it’s important to take into account this consideration.

Self build insurance is a special kind of insurance designed specifically for self build projects. It is a specialist product that will cover you and your site in the event of accidental damage, injury etc.

Some self build insurance providers include:

Further to the insurance, you should also spend time understanding self build warranties to protect everything that happens after the self build is complete. A self build warranty can generally cover your home 10-12 years after the project completion, depending on the policy you take out. Some of the above insurers also offer self build warranties. 

8. Project Management

Project management is a massive part of your self build project, and it’s important to consider who will project manage the build. Essentially, the project manager will oversee all aspects of the site build, addressing any issues that arise, ensuring quality is maintained throughout and making sure deadlines are met. They also oversee Health and Safety.

The question really is who is best fit to project manage your self build? Hiring a PM can be expensive, and so finance-conscious self builders may consider taking on the role themselves and this can be a way to save money and have control over the project. However, there are obviously many benefits to hiring a professional with experience and understanding of this role, so it’s important to carry out your own research to determine the best option for you.

Depending on the professionals you hire, you can consider your architect, builder or even a separate hired project manager to take on this role. It’s important to do your research and speak to experts to help you make the right decision when building your house.

9. Connecting Utilities

When planning your self build, it is important to consider the utilities you need as if certain services are not easy to access, this can have a significant impact on your costs and budget.

For example, some key connections you may need to think about include:

  • Gas connection
  • Water and drainage
  • Electricity
  • Telephone & broadband

When you look to purchase land, always ensure to do a thorough plot evaluation as some areas of land will be easier to connect than others. For example, if you are building on top of where an old house used to be, this may be easier to connect than a more rural plot.

Making these considerations can be beneficial to understand early on to prevent issues down the line. We recommend speaking to a self building expert or carrying out thorough research to understand your utilities considerations.

10. Claiming Back VAT

Lastly, you may or may not be aware that you are able to claim back VAT on self build projects under what’s known as VAT Notice 431 NB. Not all self build projects are eligible but generally if you are building your own home from scratch that is an individual dwelling in it’s own right that you intend to live in, you will be eligible. 

The scheme essentially exists to encourage private individuals to create new properties. Because home buyers don’t pay VAT when they buy a house on the market, this also levels the cost with self builders.

To apply you need to fill in form 431NB on the government website once the project is completed.

Contact our expert team

Looking for advice to get your self build project underway? From financing your self build to buying land, we can help with every stage of the process. We specialise in self build architecture and residential architecture throughout the UK.

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