Self-Build Expert Self-Build Expert - Practical Advice For Self-Builders

Top 10 Tips for self-builders on a tight budget!
Published March 4th, 2019

  1. When looking for a site make sure it’s fairly level. Sloping sites give rise to increased cost of foundations, may have a negative impact on the appearance of your home and make the whole build more challenging.
  2. When considering the design form of your new home ‘Keep It Simple’. Complex layouts, curves, angles and unconventional roof configurations all add to the build cost and do not offer any real benefits.
  3. When deciding on external finishes, minimise maintenance liabilities. This will ensure your home remains good to look at and reduce life cycle costs.
  4. Minimise the number of small projections such as dormer windows, bay windows and porches, which offer little practical benefit and are disproportionately expensive to build in terms of the floor area gained.
  5. When considering the internal layout, minimise circulation space. The current fashion for open plan living works well in this regard. Avoid long corridors.
  6. Make the most of solar gain by featuring large windows on elevations facing south east, through south, to south west. Elsewhere keep window numbers and sizes to the minimum necessary, to conserve energy.
  7. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? Do you need to accommodate family and friends who only stay a few days, a couple of times of year? Putting them up in a local hotel will be much cheaper. And, that’s rooms you won’t need to heat, clean or pay Council tax on!
  8. Take a ‘Fabric First’ approach. The more you invest in insulating and making the structure of your home airtight, the better your return in terms of low running costs. It is relatively straightforward to upgrade internal doors and finishes, kitchens and sanitaryware at a later date.
  9. Do you need large rooms? The greater the floor area the greater the cost to build. Think about the furniture you require and build it in wherever possible. Minimise the size of bedrooms and bathrooms and give a little more space to the daytime accommodation.
  10. Wherever possible keep plumbing in one place both on plan and vertically. Typically, a kitchen, utility and shower room positioned next to each other on the ground floor with bathroom and ensuite on the first floor, positioned directly above, will greatly reduce costs of both internal pipework and external drainage.

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