WHERE SHOULD I START?

There’s no exact starting point. However, the Self Build Portal’s ‘NEED-A-PLOT‘ tool is a good place to begin. By placing your noticeboard on the interactive ‘Need-a-Plot’ map, detailing what kind of plot you are looking for, this will enable thousands of people to see what kind of plot you need and where you need it.
Some other methods for plot hunting include networking (ask all your friends on Facebook to look out for one for you, for example); contacting estate agents and landowners, checking out auction houses, hiring agents to search for you, advertising in the local press, in pubs and shops, and with mobile workers such as taxi drivers, mobile gardeners and hairdressers.

WHAT ELSE COULD I DO?

There are a number specialist ‘plot finding’ websites that you could investigate. Collectively, they list thousands of self build plots in the UK and offer a powerful way of searching and contacting listed vendors. They are:

Additionally, there are other online sources that sometimes list self build plots, including PrimeLocation, Rightmove, Zoopla and Movehut.
Plus, there’s The Land Bank Partnership; a useful site which specialises in the sale of land with a planning consent or the potential for residential development in the West/South West of England.
You can also search an area for an untended garden or neglected building etc and then approach the owners. If you have a defined search area buy yourself a high resolution Ordnance Survey map as this can sometimes help you identify quirky potential infill sites that are not visible from the main roads. Google Earth can sometimes be useful for this too.

Other site finding techniques include:

  • Offering a finder‘s fee to planning agents and architects.
  • Checking at the local planning office for permissions granted but not started.
  • Joining (or setting up) a local self build club or group where members share leads and help each other to hunt.

For a group build, you can also approach a parish council and ask them to suggest a suitable site. If your plans include affordable homes for local people in housing need, they should support your efforts. Or look through the list of public land for sale by the Homes and Communities Agency.
The GLA also has a database of land for sale.

If you’d like to join a local self build group, HousePlanner has a list.
Finally, you could consider finding land via an AUCTION.

Most British builders are used to building with masonry (or brick and block). However in Scotland, timber framed homes are generally the norm. Both systems are commonly employed by self builders.

Self builders are also keen innovators so they often explore alternative construction methods and materials. Their reasons will include the finished look, the eco credentials, the ease of manually handling the materials, the ability to source materials, and the availability of expertise and contractors. Budget may or may not be a factor.
If a sustainable, eco-friendly, self build is important to you, then make sure you read up on SUSTAINABILITY.

Some of the alternative construction methods include hemcrete, green oak, cob, thin joint blockwork, insulated concrete formwork (ICF), steel frame, straw bales, rammed earth, logs, and structural insulated panels (SIPs). Our SUPPLIERS DIRECTORY lists various companies that can help you with all these construction methods.
Take a look at our CASE STUDIES to get a feel for how homes can be built in different ways.
Here are some other sources of information explaining more about the various options:

The informative presentation, ‘Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) & Eco-Building’, also explain the pros and cons of the main methods of construction very well.

SOURCES OF FINANCE

If you are planning to build your home on your own there are broadly there are three ways of financing a project:

  • You are able to use your own savings (if so, you can probably stay in your existing home until the new one is built). Sometimes people are able to supplement their own savings by arranging an informal loan from family or friends.
  • You sell your current house to raise the finance you need, or use your existing property as surety for a loan to fund the new house. If you have to sell your current home you might then live in a caravan on site, or with relatives, or rent a house while the new home is built.
  • You borrow the money you need by taking out a mortgage on your proposed self build home. Usually you can only borrow about 75% of the land cost, and 60% of the build cost, so you will still need a sizeable deposit. You need to assess your situation and work out which method or combination of methods will work best for you.

If you are hoping to build as part of a group self build scheme you may be eligible for a loan under the Government’s Custom Build Serviced Plots Loan Fund. To be eligible there has to be at least five homes being built together. Read more about the full prospectus here. Note that a slightly different approach is being proposed from the Greater London area.
Community-led housing schemes are also eligible for grants towards some professional fees. Locality has more information.
Some of the bigger lending institutions may also be worth approaching, though in the current economic climate; it’s very difficult to get finance for group self build schemes.

BUDGET ADVICE

Budgeting can make or break a project. The more accurate your estimates, and calculations, the more likely you will build your dream home without any crippling over spends. See our BUDGET ADVICE page for things to keep in mind.

CIL/S106 EXEMPTIONS

The Government has confirmed that self builders (and the clients of custom builders) will be exempt from paying the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) that is normally charged when planning permission is granted for a new house. It has also confirmed plans to exempt self builders from paying Section 106 (S106) Affordable Housing Contributions.
More detail on these topics is available on our dedicated CIL/S106 EXEMPTIONS page.

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