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Self-builders: Top Tips Before You Put a Spade in the Ground

For the lucky few of us who do get the chance to take the challenge on, you'll no doubt understand that with the highs of the self-build dream come the perils of the design and build process. Problems lead to delays and delays lead to spending more money trying to get the job done. This can be a logistical nightmare as budgets need to be strictly adhered to as well as juggling the role of project manager with normal, everyday life. Planning permission can also be a sticking point - there are rules to follow and you must adhere to them to make sure your project gets going.

So how can you make sure that you minimise the risk of issues occurring on site?

Well, we've helped quite a few self-builders over the years and know a thing or two about the concerns that can arise. Here's a few tips to get you started on your journey.


Protecting your dream home

You should contact a warranty provider for two reasons:

  • Quality of your build – Having the support of an experienced warranty surveyor who has worked with self-build projects can minimise the risk of problems occurring later down the construction line.
  • First hand surveyor sign off - It’s a common myth that warranty providers can use third party surveyor reports to approve builds and issue certificates. All inspections are undertaken and signed off by their own surveyor network.

One line we hear a lot from self-builders who speak to us is “I was told I wouldn’t need a warranty in place as I used Building Control for my project”. The truth is many mortgage providers will only issue the release of funds once they are satisfied that the building has an accredited warranty in place.


Timing is everything

If you need a warranty in place, when is the best time to sort it? Before you’ve even thought about getting your boots dirty and digging holes, you should speak to a CML approved warranty provider. The earlier you get them involved, the easier it will be to support you.


Do you REALLY know who you are working with?

If you do decide to take the plunge and build a home which is unique to you, you should be careful who you partner with. There are builders and contractors who may not be as reputable as you would think! The last thing you need is to invest all your money into your new home only to realise that you haven't got what you've paid for. It's a situation we've seen over the years and we don't want it to happen to you!

Before you decide to employ a builder and/or contractor, you should look at the following actions to protect yourself against any dodgy dealers:

  • Check their professional credentials - are they part of any professional trade bodies and/or do they have any accredited qualifications that you can check against?
  • Research online - look into self-build forums and communities online that offer advice on mistakes to avoid and recommendations of trustworthy builders.
  • Many self-builders choose the additional protection of a self-build warranty to cover against any major defects in the first 10 years of the building’s lifecycle. If your contractor has agreed to organise putting this in place, but you haven’t seen any evidence of this, you can contact the warranty provider in question and check further details of the cover to be provided.

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