Deciding to construct your own home is a massive decision. It is not something that you should rush into without doing your research and reading around the subject. There are many decisions that you will have to make along the way and you want to ensure that you are making the right choices at every stage. Think about the future and what you will require from a home in the next decade and even the one after that. Then work your way through this checklist to make sure that have not left anything out.
Do your research thoroughly and early
It is not possible to emphasize this enough. It is essential that you research the process of building a home. Understand the difference between kit homes and traditionally built homes. Find out the legal and planning issues associated with constructing a home from scratch. Think about time scales and where you will live when the house is being built.
Consider carefully where you want to build your home. Check out the local amenities and transport links. Are you close to schools and leisure facilities and what are the neighbors like? It is also important to consider proximity to your place of work and travel costs. These can make or break the success of your building project.
Get some skills
Many people choose to build their own home because they like the idea of doing some of the work themselves. This is great in theory but does not always work out in practice. Get some building skills so that you know what you are doing. Whilst it is true that you can learn a lot from YouTube these days there is no substitute for a practical course where you can hone your skills before you are let loose on your own home.
Building a kit home yourself is achievable for most people and your supplier can give you a lot of help and guidance on what to do.
There will always be some aspects of building that you need professional help with. Anything to do with gas and electricity requires an expert that knows what they are doing.
Fix your budget
Building projects are notorious for going over budget because there are costs that you did not think about at the start. Nevertheless, it makes sense to put together some figures on what you intend to spend on each element of the build. Budgeting for a kit home is easier as you pay for all the elements upfront as you put together your chosen design.
Build in a contingency so that you are not in trouble if you exceed your budget. If you suspect you are going to go over budget, speak to your lender early on as they may be able to advance you some more money. Smaller lenders are sometimes more reasonable than the bigger loan companies.
Prepare your site correctly for the build
Get your site ready to build on before your kit home arrives or before your traditional build is due to start. This cuts down on costly delays. Remember, it can take a time to get through all the red tape of purchasing a plot of land and making sure that you have all of the necessary permissions to start building.
The site may not be suitable for building on right away. All types of building will need the land to be cleared and the foundations dug and prepared before building can start. Also, consider access as you will have some large lorries that need to deliver materials.
Think carefully about where you will erect the house on the site. Check out the views and where the sun rises and sets. What part of the site would be more private? Are there any water courses that you need to avoid? Remember that flooding is a serious issue in some areas.
Decide on the type of house that you want
Kit houses are a cost-effective and fast way to get a fabulous new home these days. You can buy a package that includes plans, the kit home (floors, walls, roof, and stairs) and full customer service. These homes should not be confused with trailers or modular homes which are entirely different.
You can carry out a lot of the work yourself and move in quickly with engineering support and a wide range of specifications to suit all budgets.
Think about the environment
Think about the energy efficiency of your new build home. This is in the best interests of the environment and your pocket. Energy efficiency is dictated by the method of heating and the insulation of the walls, floors, and ceilings as well as the construction of the windows and doors. You have the option of building in other environmentally-friendly features such as water recycling systems, low-water showers, and dual-flush toilets. You can add in gray water recycling and rainwater harvesting if you live in areas with low rainfall.
The ongoing running costs of a home are very important. There is no point in constructing a house that you cannot afford to heat or light. The wood you use in your home should be grown in sustainable forests and recycled materials used wherever possible.
Avoid making these rookie mistakes
These are the mistakes that many first-time house buyers make and end up paying the price for:
- Do not pour all of the cement into the foundations at once, it will harden before you can get the rest in and you will have to start all over again
- Do not schedule your tradesmen in the wrong order. You need your plumber in before the carpenter
- Don’t settle on your design before you know where your services are going to be
- Don’t set an impossible timetable for yourself. You could damage your health and your personal relationships. You will also end up rushing and get things wrong
- Be very careful when comparing prices on things like kit homes. Make sure you are comparing like with like
- The cheapest bid is not necessarily the best. Go for value for money as opposed to a bargain
- You will need some money for landscaping so have some left over in your budget. Otherwise, it looks like you are living in a building site for years
- Pick a design based on your actual lifestyle rather than what you wish your lifestyle would be. This is a time to be realistic about what you need
Choosing your kit home
If you have decided that a kit home is for you, there will be several decisions that you need to make on the design and on the specification.
You will need some support with the design conceptualization as you decide what your home will look like. How large will the floor area be? How many stories will it have? The single-storey living is becoming more popular. It is not just for the elderly who are becoming less mobile. Many young families appreciate the benefits of single-story living. They can be very peaceful compared to multi-storey houses as risk cannot travel down the stairs from above.
It is worth looking into the future. As most of the population is living longer, there will be more and more people who cannot manage the stairs. There will also be plenty of older couples who want to downsize from their multi-storey family homes. This will mean that your new build will be in great demand and good bungalows can fetch a premium on the property market.
Then there needs to be a detailed evaluation of the design to make sure that it is compatible with the orientation of the sun, light and wind exposure of the site. If you want to embrace solar and wind energy this is the time to design that into your plans.
In terms of affordability, kit homes are more affordable than conventional homes. In general, they cost around one-third of the total cost of the completed home. You will need to add in the cost of labor, land, and utilities.
There is also less waste because you are dealing with just one supplier. If there are several teams of contractors delivering materials to a site there can be a lot of waste in the form of excess materials. When a home is built in panels and delivered at the site, the waste is eliminated at the factory stage. This cuts down on costs too.
If you need your home in a hurry then this is the option for you. Because a traditional build involves the scheduling of multiple groups of subcontractors they do not communicate with each other. The plumbers, electricians, and decorators will turn up on-site when it suits them rather than when it suits you. This can lead to frustrating and costly delays.
The painters cannot do their job until the plasterers have left so if the plasterers are delayed the painters may have gone on to a different job! When modules or panels are all built in the same factory there are no such problems. See our more recent article on building your own home.
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