Here at Correia Masonry in Gloucestershire we are seeing more and more clients approaching us with plans to buy land and build from scratch.

Here are some tips we recommend you consider when looking to build your new home.

Find a building plot – Tracking down the right site for your project can seem like a headache, but don’t panic – over 13,000 people manage it every year! There are plenty of online resources to help, but often word of mouth is the most powerful tool – so let local residents know that you’re looking to join their community.

Arrange finance – One of the first things you need to have in place on a self build project is funding – and having the finance available right from the start could be crucial in sealing the deal on a plot.

Dedicated self build mortgage products are now widely available through brokers such as www.themortgagebrain.net. These work on a stage payment basis, so funds are released at key points throughout your project – either in advance or in arrears, depending on the product you choose.

Set a realistic budget – Despite what you might think from watching shows such as Grand Designs, most custom home projects don’t end up turning into money pits. That’s because the majority of self builders take a sensible approach to budgeting, setting a firm and realistic figure for the project before the design stages begin.

You should always include a contingency – at least 10% of your overall budget is prudent. This money should only be used for unexpected costs during the project, such as additional foundation requirements or unavoidable delays. If you still have the contingency at the end of the build, you can consider upgrading interior finishes or landscaping schemes.

Find a designer – Whether you choose a package supplier (who will literally design and build your home for you), an architect or another house designer, be sure to choose someone who understands your requirements is able to produce thoughtful responses that fit with your budget.

Get in touch with the planners – Early contact with the planners is the best way to figure out whether your project is viable. Most local authority planning departments offer ‘pre-application advice’ (some will charge for this service).

This can help you get a strong idea of what your planning officer will and won’t accept in terms of general style, size and any materials stipulations. It’s a great way to make sure you stand the best chance of getting planning permissions when you come to submit your application.

Choose a building route – Many first-time self builders choose to use a package builder to guide them through the design and build process. These companies usually offer customisable standard houses as well as a bespoke design option.

Other self builders prefer to use an architect and main contractor or professional project manager. Many like to project manage the build themselves, with a view to saving money by keeping a close eye on labour and materials.

Often, your architect or package supplier will favour a particular construction system, such as brick and block or timber frame. But don’t be afraid to take the lead if you have strong views on using a particular build method.

Get the essentials sorted – Before you progress with a project, it’s crucial to make certain you have the appropriate consents to build, including planning permission, building control approval and any special permissions (such as conservation area consent).

You should also safeguard your investment by getting the right contracts, warranties and insurance in place. Even if your contractor(s) already hold insurance policies, you’ll still need to take out specialist self build insurance.

Prepare your plot – The first step in physically getting your project underway is to prepare the site for the building work. That means sorting the groundworks – from clearing vegetation to levelling the plot (if required) and accurately setting out the trenches. Your main contractor or a dedicated groundworking company can deal with this stage as well as drainage and the foundation pour.

Get building – Starting work on the structural shell of your home is an exciting time. Most self builders choose between two construction methods for their project, both of which are pretty much on a par for cost-effectiveness. Brick and block is the traditional and familiar favourite, while timber frame is great for quick, predictable construction schedules.

Loosely speaking, your home building project will fall into five stages: foundation work; getting the house wind and weather tight (roof on, windows and doors in); first fix (the initial services, structural carpentry and plastering work); second fix (work carried out after plastering); and the final decoration.

Enjoy your new home! – With building work complete and the interiors finished, you’ll be ready (and probably raring) to move in to your dream home. There are a few practicalities to consider – such as obtaining the Completion certificate from building control, ensuring any small issues are dealt with as part of the ‘snagging’ process and making that all-important VAT reclaim. But now you’ve reached the end of your self-build journey, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labours.

If you are looking to build your new home freom scratch Correia Masonry would be delighted to offer a quotation for part of the build, or even the whole build to include project management. We can help with whatever you require.

For more information about our building services in Gloucestershire contact Correia Masonry by phone or email. We look forward to hearing from you.