Many of us have a dream of building our own home rather than living in one of the many unoriginal options which home builders present us with. Having a home which has our stamp on it and has been built with our needs in mind is anyone's idea of perfection. But it is not as easy as you might think.
The government has been taking steps in recent months to make it easier for the average person to build their own home. They have been making it easier to buy land, reducing planning restrictions and encouraging banks to lend. But self building is still a path which is not for the faint hearted. So what are the pros and cons of building your own home?
- Your self build home is likely to be significantly cheaper than buying a newly built home. This is especially true if you take advantage of one of the many kit homes which are available these days. You may be able to save around 20% on the cost of a normal home.
- You can design your home to fit in with your own needs. Bearing planning laws in mind, you can usually adjust your home to suit your family. You may need plenty of bedrooms or prefer open plan living – you can choose whichever you prefer.
- You might want to incorporate energy efficiency measures. These things are easier to do at the planning stage than trying to retrofit them.
- Depending on the availability of plots you can choose to live wherever you like. You can make sure you get the perfect view or are well away from your neighbours.
- Self building is zero-rated for VAT. This means your home is tax free. You may even find a plot which is free from stamp duty.
- Once complete, a self build leaves you with a huge sense of satisfaction. Knowing that you have chosen all of the materials, had a hand in the design and ensured that it is built correctly all leave you feeling very positive about your home. This is assuming it all went to plan of course.
- Finding a plot is hard work. There are major planning restrictions in place around most of the country these days and most building plots are brownfield. This means they are in built up areas. You may be best buying an older house and knocking it down to get the plot. This can make it very expensive however.
- You will need to employ and work with an architect, project manager and a team of builders. This requires tact and diplomacy and the time to deal with the huge number of problems which will come up. Organisation is very important. If you don't have the time, you should not start.
- Getting a mortgage is difficult. Many banks are wary of issuing mortgages for self builds as they are not as common as they are in other countries. There are some specialist lenders out there, but you may find that the rates are slightly higher.
- Cash flow will be an issue. Your lender may not give you all of the money upfront and may only supply it in stages. Your builder should work with you on this – but it can add to the stress.
- You will need to pay for two homes at the same time. You will need to either rent a property while you are building or live on site in caravan. Either option is going to lead to more expense and it could be for an extended period of time.
Despite these drawbacks, self building is worthwhile. Simply knowing you have built your own home makes it worth all of the stress.