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A Survival Strategy For First-Time Self-Builders

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Going down the self-build route is a little like waking up, walking downstairs and finding out your kid has made you marmite on toast for breakfast. It can go one of two ways. Some self-builders get such a kick as they ride the roller coaster of emotions that is managing a self-build project, the hurdles, complications, and successes each adding to the rush. For others, however, doing the self-build thing is the worst experience they have ever endured. Sure, it made sense from an investment point of view because of the money saved, but they won’t be jumping at the chance to do it again anytime soon – at least not in the same way.

Whichever camp you fall into, though, there is a common denominator: no one takes on a self-build project without understanding just how serious this task is. Of course, once you’ve started a project of this magnitude, you will find a way to make it to the end zone one way or another. Most of the time that means enduring a few tough times and picking up a few grazes.

So, to try and help you avoid this and make your journey as smooth, hassle-free and enjoyable as possible, we have pulled together a survival strategy of sorts; the kind that will protect your sanity as much as your investment.

Perfect The Art Of Planning

The more time and effort you spend on the front end the easier you will find life from here on out. That is a golden rule. So don’t fall into the trap of thinking any time you spend not building is wasted time – it isn’t. In fact, we recommend you spend at least as much time planning as you spend actually building your house. Research, research and research some more. We’re talking about where you want to build, the materials you want to use, what your project will cost if you do this, that or the other, what design options are available to you, what the latest structural requirements are and what sort of finish you are going to give your home. This will ensure you make the right choices and get the most value.

Budgets Need To Be Realistic

The good news is, most self-builders have the dogged determination to drag a project over the line, which means you probably won’t fail on your mission. The bad news is, if you do fail, it will be because you ran out of money. So, to avoid making a Grand Designs style overspending faux pas, you need to set a budget and then work out what choices you can make within that. You need to consider the land purchase costs, the architectural rendering costs, the costs of labor, how much the poor access will add to your total spend, what materials are going to be the best value and just about everything else you can think of. You will also need to include around a 12% contingency fund knowing that Murphy’s Law applies more than ever in the building game. If it can happen then it will happen. Basically, there is no such thing as too much detail.

It’s Cheaper To Hire The Best

Who you choose to take on your project will have a huge influence over how smoothly it runs. The best way to do this is to get clued up on the difference between a cheap quote and one that is good value. Yes, there is a huge difference. As a golden rule, don’t trust a tradesman who can be available tomorrow. There is a reason why they are not busy at a time when the industry is. So, do your research, use the specialist sites that are available, speak to other self-builders in the area and ask for references because, if you choose the right people, then you will find your project management role becomes a lot – and we mean a lot – easier. Prices may be higher at the front end, but getting great quality the first time around is a lot less expensive than hiring an incompetent tradesman that puts your project at risk.

Always Protect Your Investment

We’ve covered the budget part of this process and that means you have now realized that this little project is going to cost you a lot (read: all) of your money. That is quite the risk you are running, which is why you need to make sure you cover your liability should anything go wrong – and there is nothing to say it won’t. To help point you in the right direction, there is no point wasting your time looking for the best domestic insurance quote or taking out a content insurance policy for the simple fact they don’t cover self-builds. What you need is a self-build insurance policy. Simple. It is also well worth taking out some form of a structural warranty that covers at least the first ten years.

And there we have it; you first furor into managing a self-build project without any of the stress.

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