From: Build it
Undertaking a major project offers you the chance to create a truly individual home that responds to your family’s needs. Many parts of the process are the same for both self build and renovation: for example, you’ll need to find a viable project, develop a brief, sort out your funding, bring in the right trades – and much more besides.
But while the two routes share some common ground in terms of decision-making, the benefits and challenges of each option are nuanced – and recognising these considerations could help you to choose the best path to your dream home.
Finding a self build plot
Recent research from the National Custom & Self Build Association (NaCSBA) has revealed that 56% of people interested in building their own home believe that finding a suitable plot will be the biggest challenge they face. It’s fairly common for self builders to spend at least a year tracking down a viable site that can deliver the kind of house they want.
Key routes include estate agents, word of mouth (ask friends, colleagues, local architects etc) and online search resources, such as Rightmove or the more dedicated Plotsearch from BuildStore.
A word of warning: it’s usually best to avoid sites that don’t already have some sort of planning permission in place (whether full or outline) – if a plot has potential for development, it will usually have a consent attached as this will massively increase its sale value.
Finding a renovation project
According to the Empty Homes Agency, there are over 600,000 vacant properties in England alone – so there’s plenty of opportunity to find something ripe for renovation.
In many ways your options are more open than for self builders; although more choice doesn’t always make things easier! The best places to start hunting will be your local estate agents and the classic online search portals. Also check out specialists, such as Wreckoftheweek.co.uk and Renovatealerts.com.
Auctions are a prime source of run-down properties – but it’s vital you get a survey done before you bid, as you can’t back out once the gavel goes down.
In England, recent changes to planning legislation mean you can now convert a range of agricultural and commercial buildings to domestic use under permitted development (PD) rights; between April 2014 and June 2015, almost 4,000 offices were converted into homes.
Read more here.