A self build house project diary
by Oliver Cannell

Another option - local developer and project manager

As a third option for taking this project on, I met with a local developer and project manager.

A slightly different company from a builder, as they are able to offer a complete design-to-build service. But as the initial design stage has already been done, I met to discuss how to move forward one stage at a time.

Obviously there are so many unknowns when designing a house, that there is no accurate way to calculate how much it will cost to actually build it. So, with this mind, I need to know whether I'll be able to afford to raise the funds required to build this house - otherwise there is no point in doing anything else.

Having spent some time with this company today, it is clear that a certain amount will have to be spent in order to get the answer to that question. In order to get a build quote from a builder, they will require a certain level of detail in the drawings and specs, that don't exist yet. They will need detailed drawings for the foundations, house structure, finishes, and the other things involved such as the services (water, electric, gas, sewerage, telephone) and landscaping. This is quite frustrating, as if the build doesn't go ahead, then it will be waisted effort. But on the other hand, if it does go ahead, then all this stuff will have to be done anyway, so it's all required in the long run.

Anyway, they are going to produce a quote for me, consisting of 2 phases. The 1st phase will be the minimum amount of work that will be required to get quotes from builders. The 2nd phase will be everything else, should the project move forward, which will need to be done before the build can commence.

Next entry: On-site meeting with planning & building consultants (Wednesday 18th November 2009)

Previous entry: Meeting a local builder (Tuesday 10th November 2009)

Our house build is in a conservation area so detailed drawings were required to be able to submit planning application.  Had quite a few free pre-planning consultations with the Planning Department so was basically aware of what would be allowed.  Obtained Planning Permission and then construction drawings were done by our architectural technician and approved by Building Control.  I forwarded copies of these to two builders merchants, one national company and the other a local company and for a small fee, which is reimbursed if you buy products from them, they supply a Bill of Quantities.  We had two done to draw comparisons and these were so unbelievably helpful.  As an absolute novice, this set me on my way.

I was able to employ a builder for a fixed rate, but purchase the materials myself, and having two Bills to refer to put me in a position to barter.  The local company has been second to none, in both advice and service.  I explained at the outset that I would be seeking the most competitive prices, which they agreed to match if they were able to.

We are up to the roof now (Feb 2015), and our budget is matching a friend’s similar house build done in 2007.  The main thing is, that whilst I was waiting for the builder to start, I had time to do a lot of research (all on the internet / email) and had therefore everything in place and ready to go including tradesmen for electrics, plumbing, etc and kitchen, bathroom requirements.

The house is a 6-bedroomed detached and I have enjoyed the process tremendously so far.  The build was started in November 2014 but there was an enormous number of hurdles to overcome during the preceding years eg planning/neighbours/services etc.  All a fantastic learning curve and only able to be overcome because I had recently retired!!

D Congreave  on  Friday, 13th February 2015  at  19:28

Thank you very much for sharing your experience with us. It sounds like you’ve been very thorough with your planning and preparation and from the look of it, it’s helped you get a speedy build process, if you’re up to roof level already.
The question I’m getting asked all the time, is if I would do it again. So, would you?  😊

Oli  on  Thursday, 12th March 2015  at  22:26

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