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A Good Time to Self-Build?

Building your own house is something that a lot of us aspire to but, after doing a bit of research into the subject, most of us bottle out when we realise just how much work is involved and opt for a ready-made one instead. However, the latest research shows that falling house prices have had a knock-on effect into falling land prices (down 33% on their 2007 peak outside of London), suggesting that building your own home could be a real bargain in the current market.

Self-build company Potton (potton.co.uk), who specialise in supplying and erecting timber-frame homes, say that the supply of building plots is increasing as developers abandon projects – making them cheaper and more available. They also maintain that the average cost of a self-build project is around one third less than you would pay a developer for a new house. The process can be a quick one as well; once you’ve got your planning permission, the timber frame can be erected in less than one week and the whole thing build can be done in 10 weeks. You also have the choice of buying the plan off the shelf or customising the build to your own design.


So why have a timber-frame house? Well apart from the fact that they can be built relatively quickly and cheaply, they have insulation packed into every cavity and are therefore energy efficient. According to the Federation of Master Builders, now is also a good time to be looking for a decent builder. More than 70,000 workers in the building industry have already been laid off this year and with many projects being mothballed by major developers there are lots of tradesmen who are actively seeking work.

For a long time now, self-builders have had to compete with developers for building plots – who would often snap them up before they even came on the market. The situation is somewhat different now and in some instances overstretched developers are actually trying to get some sites off their books. To look for a building plot you can pay to register with an internet service such as plotfinder.net or you can register your interest with your local estate agents.


More good news for self-builders is the fact that mortgage lenders like them – a massive plus in the current housing market. If you’re building your own place you can normally borrow up to 95% of the costs. The reason for this is the fact that lenders know that the typical self-builder is unlikely to be a first-time buyer and when completed, the project will have a typical loan-to-value of 60%. Build costs vary greatly, depending on how much of it you do yourself, but a typical generously-sized timber frame house will come in at around £250,000.


If making a quick buck is your game, then self build may not be the project for you at the moment.  House prices are falling in most areas of the country, so the chances are that once you’ve finished your house that it will be worth less than was initially thought.  Building your own is definitely more of a long-term investment and the general advice on this subject is that as long as you build the right type of home in the right area it will be a good medium to long-term investment.  Sites to visit is you are serious about building your own home include buildstore.co.uk for self-build finance, findabuilder.co.uk for reputable tradesmen and homebuilding.co.uk for self-build advice.