Is 2019 the year to build your own home?

A self-build property can feel unobtainable to many as it reminds them of Kevin McLeod from Grand Designs. Picture the scene of Kevin standing there in his wellies, discussing a multi-million pound project overlooking the sea, and explaining how the family love their new home but have gone wildly over budget.

The reality for the vast majority is very different.

The popularity of self-builds is starting to grow and there is more and more support available to turn ideas into reality. There are also many popular misconceptions about self-build properties. They don’t have to be ‘grand designs’ they can be ordinary homes made to your own requirements. They can be renovations to an existing property, or conversions to a barn, basement, loft or garage. In essence, any large extension could be classified as a self-build construction.

Unfinished house. Home Remodeling and Renovation. Painting house wall with stucco and plastering.

Self-build properties are cheaper

The average self-builder saves 15% to 20% compared to the cost of buying the same property1. So, even if your project does go slightly over budget, you’re still likely to end up better off than if you found your home through an estate agent.

With the potential of huge cost savings and the ability to create your own living space, it’s increasingly becoming a more viable option for many. So where do you go for help and advice?

Help is at hand

We have written several articles providing support to self-builders. Want to know where best to find a plot for your new home? Need help navigating through the planning process? Which trade associations might be able to offer helpful information? You’ll find all that and more in our article how easy is it to build your own home?

Saffron has years of experience providing finance for people looking to build their own homes. We know that if this is your first self- build, you’ll have a lot of questions to ask about finance, that’s why your Mortgage Adviser will be there to guide you every step of the way.

Our specialist underwriters take the time to understand your project because no two self builds are the same. We release your funds in flexible stage payments to suit your build plans. To help, we’ve written a self-build guide to mortgages.

How difficult is it?

We recently helped Matthew Switzer when he was looking to build a new property for his family in an Essex village. He had this to say about Saffron Building Society:

“We found their approach very different from others we had talked to and their fees were in line with what we could afford. The service they provided was really important to us. Margaret, a mortgage adviser at the Society, has been with us all the way through the project.”

Matthew compiled his tips for self-builders when we spoke to him:

  • Planning – you probably don’t need me to explain how vitally important this is! The project management was really tough and I didn’t realise just how much was involved, nor the importance of the order of the tasks.
  • Experience – our friends were six weeks ahead of us on the project so it has been helpful to learn from them. You may not be that lucky with your own project but try to speak to people who have been through it.
  • Finance – while the price of the mortgage is important, what we found vital is having someone you can work closely with. Someone very close to the project who understands what you are trying to do has been a life saver when the pressure is on.
  • Be available – if you are not paying for a project manager you need to be available on site to make quick decisions, and ensure everything is as you expect it to be.
  • Tradesmen – once people knew it was a self-build they were very helpful. All have been brilliant and very accommodating, so make sure when you explain the project that you assess whether those involved share your desire to get it right.
  • Be resilient – over Christmas there were three heavy snow falls which made things difficult. We had no choice but to crack on and keep the timings on schedule.
  • Relationships - build a relationship with your local timber and building merchant. Not only can they offer advice, but when you suddenly find yourself short on materials or the wrong thing is delivered, they will often pull out all the stops to help you out. This can avoid costly delays.
  • Accuracy - get a quantity surveyor to look over your plans. Knowing the right amount of materials to order is vital and will help with timing and budgeting.
  • Internal - make decisions on kitchens and bathrooms early. Although they won't be fitted until towards the end, the location of services is often based on the fittings you plan to purchase.
  • Involve the whole family - it's very easy to get bogged down with the daily stresses and decisions on site. Most weekends our children came to view the house and see their bedrooms, for example. It helps them to feel part of the project and reminds everyone of the end goal.
  • Building control - speak with your local building control officer who is there to help rather than catch you out. Our inspector has been invaluable in sharing knowledge.
  • Costs - be prepared to accept that some things will cost more and some will cost less. It's a balancing act and sometimes you have to rein in the luxuries a little.
  • Energy efficiency - for us, investing in renewable energy sources and insulating the house to the highest level we could afford was really important. The fabric of the house cannot be changed easily, but changing the bathroom suite or upgrading appliances in the kitchen can all be done in the future if required. Installing solar panels or underfloor heating for example needs to be incorporated during the build not afterwards.

You can read more about Matthew’s experience.

Contact one of our experts for help

If you want to know more about our mortgages then call us on 0800 072 1100, or visit our website to see our range of self-build mortgages.

You can access our mortgages through Saffron Mortgage Finders or through your mortgage broker.