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Guide: How to Save Money On Your Self-Build Project

Self-build projects offer unparalleled freedom when it comes to creating the home of your dreams. However, with great power comes great responsibility and the budget for constructing or renovating the property will be in your hands.

In this guide, we'll offer some cost-saving tips for self-builders and point out some of the common problems self-builders face when trying to save money on the job.

Concept

You can shave off the most amount of money from your project before you pick up your first tool. The planning stage is vital in determining the overall cost of your budget and for those operating to a tight cost margin, is undoubtedly the most important step.

There are numerous factors that'll serve as multipliers for the cost of your self-build project, including:

Location: As the old adage goes, when it comes to picking a house it's 'location, location, location'. Unsurprisingly, however, where you choose to situate your self-build property will have reams of ramifications, ranging from the price of the plot, to the cost of connecting power and arranging infrastructure.

Obviously, there's no silver bullet for this, but when planning your project, it pays to have a certain degree of flexibility around location – which can help shave thousands, if not tens of thousands, off the project's overall budget.

Scope: Similarly, you may have had your eye on converting a dream house, slotting into a plot adjacent to an idyllic village or powering your home almost entirely by renewable means.

All these types of projects come with their own hurdles, some of which can be costly to overcome. For instance, even seemingly simple conversions can prove highly tricky, particularly if you're trying to accomplish renovations in a listed area, which will typically require you to use materials that are in-line with those of surrounding properties.

Rural locations can come with their own challenges, such as planning constraints, local tree or wildlife protection orders and access to roads and/or power. And while great strides have been made in the field of renewables over the years, it can still prove prohibitively costly to install and maintain these rather than utilising traditional power sources.

Overconfidence: Even if you're a builder in your day job – don't assume you'll be able to make all the correct decisions from the get-go. There's a trade-off between taking the reins on the project and hiring in a specialist manager in terms of both time and cost. And this is of particular importance if you're going to be balancing the project with a day job.

Planning

Cost and time overruns will occur on your project and the quicker you resign yourself to that, the better. However, the chances and severity of these can be greatly mitigated by putting in your due diligence during the planning stage of the job.

A great deal of money can be saved by comparing materials and services, so before you get started – be sure to break out the spreadsheets and compare a range of quotes, you'll often be surprised at just how much diversity there is in price ranges.

Also, while you may find fancy features or materials desirable, it's important to shave as much money off the basics, like bricks and roofing, before moving on to the more advanced areas.

 

Structural Defects Insurance

Complexity

Doing the simple things well will always trump outside-the-box thinking when it comes to self-build. While you may have been inspired by the marvels on TV shows like Grand Designs, try and be realistic about what you can achieve with the funds you have.

Every item and issue that adds complexity to your project will translate to more money. For instance, vanity items like chimneys will set you back thousands of pounds, while simultaneously reducing the amount of floor space you've got to work with and potentially costing you more in long-term heating costs.

Also, bear in mind that every corner you add to the design will effectively multiply the cost and the shape that you choose can massively influence the level of floor space you'll have to enjoy.

Similarly, while you might have your heart set on grand bay windows – this arrangement is exponentially more complex, and therefore expensive, than a traditional set-up. And as such, you'll be paying out for custom fittings, special bricks to accommodate them, as well as requiring three panes, instead of one.

Thinking long-term

Sometimes, bearing the brunt of an initially higher outlay of cash can yield lower long-term costs. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to know when making this call is appropriate.

One of the biggest sources of long-term cost is heating your house and these days, few would gripe at installing robust insulation to keep costs down. However, when looking at high-end solutions like underfloor heating, make sure to do your due diligence and run plans by both your flooring supplier and heating provider before giving the go-ahead.

Likewise, while extending your home in to three stories by utilising the attic space may necessitate a bigger up-front cost, it can provide a great deal more usable space in the long-term. And when it comes time to sell-up, a house with more stories will tend to be worth exponentially more than those with two.

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