One of the advantages of self-build is that it gives you a lot of flexibility over the method of construction. Some of the construction options are only open to the self-builder as no UK developers use them. The method you finally choose will be determined by a number of factors including:
- Design Preference
Some construction methods are better suited to particular house designs than others. For example if you are looking to build a house with large open plan features then a steel frame construction will be preferable to traditional brick and block.
Obviously different methods of building have different costs per square metre of house floor area. The tighter your budget, the more restricted your choice of building method. Furthermore, if you require a mortgage, you may find that your lender restricts your construction options.
- Location of Plot
Some plots, for example in Conservation areas or attractive villages, will be severely restricted in terms of the house’s appearance so your self-build will have to at least look similar to surrounding properties. This will clearly eliminate some choice of construction techniques.
- Level of Your Input to Build
If you wish to build part or all of the property yourself, your construction choice will be limited to your competencies. Furthermore some options are only available on a ‘supply and build’ basis.
- Resale Issues
If you are concerned about being able to re-sell your property reasonably quickly at some point, you may wish to stick to more traditional building methods.
The main construction options open to you in the UK are as follows:
A very popular method of house building in Scandinavia, Northern Europe and North America, which has been used and survived over centuries. It is very popular with self-builders due to its ease of construction. It allows a wide range of cosmetic design options from brick finishes to timber cladding. In the UK this method of construction accounts for over 80% of all new build housing in Scotland, with England and Wales catching up fast.
Brick and Block
The traditionally recognised building method, particularly in England and Wales, with an inner skin of concrete blocks, an outer skin of facing bricks and a layer of insulation between the two. A lot slower to build than timber frame and with less opportunity for the self-builder to get ‘hands-on’.
A popular method of construction in the US, but rare in the UK. Allows very open plan designs. This option will almost certainly require you to purchase a kit on a ‘supply and build’ basis and your choice of design will be limited to those offered from the kit manufacturer. This can be combined with timber frame and brick and block construction.
Alternative Building Methods
These include Oak Frame, Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), Structured Insulated Panels (SIPs), and Insulated Concrete Formwork (ICF). However, some of these may be classified as non-standard construction by some mortgage lenders, restricting the availability of finance.
There is some cross-over with other methods (mentioned above) and specific eco-build systems such as straw bale. Mortgage options will definitely be restricted and you are likely to restrict your market when re-selling.