A Guide To Building Your Own Home

Written by Jane Wardle on December 19, 2018

Updated December 6, 2022

Self build house couple

More and more people want to build their own homes, approximately 10% in 2017 according to cash house buyer Ask Susan. They’re attracted by the idea of getting to live in a house they’ve designed in a location that suits them. The price, which can be much more affordable than other types of home ownership, is another added benefit.

Building your own home, however, isn’t as easy or as straightforward as buying one already built. If it’s something you think might be for you, however, our brief guide to building your own home should help you get started.

It’s not always cheaper to self-build rather than buy an existing house and refurbish it to your requirements. In part, this depends on where you live, so check local property listings before you make a decision.

Different types of self-build

There are a number of different types of self-builds that might suit your needs, including:

    • Self-Built One-Off Home: You manage your home’s design and construction and complete most of the work yourself. This is a big undertaking and is only really suitable for people who are builders or have construction experience. Building a one-off home is generally the cheapest self-build option but also the riskiest unless you know what you are doing. It’s also a lot of hard work and means committing to being on site almost constantly during the construction period.

If you do choose this option, you’ll still need to hire an architect to put your design ideas into practice and support you through the planning process.

    • Contractor-Built One-Off Home: You manage your home’s design but hire a contractor to complete the work itself. This option allows you to get exactly what you want and can be cost effective if the design is straightforward. However, contractor fees can be costly so make sure you understand what these are before going forward.

Make sure you are sure of your design before you hire a contractor as making changes during the process can lead to costs spiralling.

    • Kit Home: As the name suggests, a kit home, comes as a kit that is made of prefabricated parts and which you, or the manufacturer, can put together depending on how complex the design is. This is a pretty simple way to build a house and cost-effective.

Depending on your budget, you might have limited designs and options to choose from, meaning you may not end up with your dream home.

You could also consider a custom build, though this gives you less control over the design or location of your home. Here, a developer already has a site and one or more designs you can choose from. Once you’ve made your choice, the developer takes care of the rest. This can still save you money if you’re happy to do the final finishes yourself.

Finding Land

When you build your own home, you’ll need to find land to build it on, which might be harder than you think. Do your research, looking on the Homes & Communities Agency site, attending land auctions and speaking to local estate agents, and be prepared to move beyond your target area if needed. Once you’ve found land you like, check for issues that might mean it isn’t as desirable as you first thought, e.g.:

  • Is it on a floodplain, close to railways lines, major roads or under a flight path?
  • Are there any plans to build close by, e.g. new housing estates?
  • Does the land have any public rights of way?
  • Is your land overlooked by other homes?

You might need to think outside the box when it comes to looking for land; see if local developers or farmers have undeveloped land for example that they may be willing to sell to you.

Planning Permission

Planning permission for your self build house

Before you begin to build, you’ll need to get planning permission. Your local authority’s planning department can let you know what you need to do here, and your architect and builder can help you make your case.

Some land already has what is known as ‘online planning permission’, which means it can be built on. However, you can’t start construction till your plans have been agreed (based on you submitting a detailed proposal).


Once you’ve decided what type of self-build you are going for, you need to look at what it will cost you, coming up with a comprehensive budget that includes:

Make sure you include your income and all your expenses in the budget, so you know if you can cover the costs of a self-build.


Mortgage options

Mortgage options

Self-build mortgages are different from traditional mortgages. They generally have higher interest rates and pay out in stages as the build progresses.

Self-build mortgages are often harder to find because lenders can’t confirm the final value of your property. You will probably need a large deposit or additional funds to cover building costs before being approved.

Getting ready to build

Once you have everything in place, and it’s time to build, you need to make sure you set aside time to be as involved in the project as you need to be. Even working with an architect and contractor, this might be more than you think as the final decisions, be they on the number of bedrooms, bathrooms or windows, are all down to you, so you have to make yourself available.

You also have to be prepared that things might change, and costs might increase beyond your original budget. Make sure you have a Plan B for if this happens and are fully prepared for the risks involved in a self-build. If you are, then you will no doubt reap the benefits too.

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