Self-Build Newbie - East Anglia
Posted 15 April 2016 - 03:37 PM
We are at the beginning of (fingers crossed) our self build journey.
In about 6 months I'm coming into some inheritance which will allow us to build our own house and fund the rest through both the sale of our house and a mortgage. The cash will be enough to buy the land and get the project started before we run out.
We're really just researching everything at the moment, we know what we want just not necessarily sure about how we go about it.
We'll be building in an rural area that's pretty easy to get planning permission in. The size of house we would will be about 220sqm (we may decide to add a 3rd floor so that could go up) not including the garage. We won't have access to gas, and possibly not mains drainage so a septic tank and ASHP with solar PV panels will likely be the way we go.
We're off to the build show in NEC tomorrow to hopefully get a better idea of everything, in particular I'd like to look at to building with SIPS and timber frame rather than using block and brick as I prefer the idea of it being made off site so we're not hampered by poor weather.
There a few pieces of land available at the moment that may suit us, however as we won't have the funds for 6 months there's not really anything we can do about them just yet.
I've learnt a lot in the past 2 weeks, and hopefully will learn a lot more in the next 6 months ready for when we can make our purchase.
Exciting/stressful/hard times lay a head I suspect!
Posted 15 April 2016 - 04:08 PM
Posted 15 April 2016 - 04:10 PM
- And welcome, I'll be at the NEC tomorrow as well.
Posted 15 April 2016 - 04:38 PM
Certainly plenty of things to research, so I'd start with some basics. Septic tanks are generally frowned upon, or even considered a last resort in many areas, because they rely on a free-draining aerobic field drain system, so in many areas you will be pushed by the EA to use a package treatment plant. There's little in it in terms of cost, and the big advantage is that in England you will normally automatically be granted a licence to discharge directly to a watercourse or drainage ditch, provided it remains flowing all year around, which means no long runs of drains that take up a lot of space.
The other big thing is to not make any serious plans until you find a plot. There are so many plot-related variables that will determine what you build, and how, that other than doing some very broad research into what is around I'd concentrate on finding a plot. Plot finding can take a long time; we had a fairly big search area (from the Sussex/Hampshire border at the Eastern side to the Bristol Channel and beyond to the West, as far South as North Cornwall and as far North as the edge of Herefordshire) and it still took over two years to buy a plot that we liked and could afford.
There are members here that have been plot hunting for a year or more, so I'd be inclined to start looking right now. We started plot hunting shortly after I took early retirement in September 2010, and didn't find the plot we eventually purchased until October 2011, and I probably drove well over 10,000 miles looking at plots in that time. Also, in many cases the plot purchase time can be quite extended, often because of issues with services, the location of boundaries, restrictive covenants etc, so the time from having an offer accepted and exchanging contracts can be quite protracted.
Our case is probably not that untypical; we saw the plot in October 2011, spent 6 weeks doing checks to see what the cost of getting water, drainage and electricity would be, then made an offer that reflected the high costs of getting services to the site. This offer was accepted in late November 2011. We finally exchanged contracts in December 2012, because, as is very often the case, there was an error with one of the boundaries that we insisted that the vendor correct before we purchased, and he dragged his heels over getting things put right with the title of the plot and that of the adjacent property.
Our "ideal house" design changed massively between our first ideas and what we ended up with, almost entirely because we hadn't appreciated how much the plot influences what you will build, even down to the sort of heating systems you may use.
So, my advice would to not decide too much about the house yet, but concentrate your efforts on finding a plot first.
Edited by jsharris, 15 April 2016 - 04:40 PM.
Posted 15 April 2016 - 04:49 PM
Until you have the plot don't spend much time designing the house. The plot will dictate so much of what you are able to do, any plans pre plot will most likely be changed.
Septic tanks are old technology, you really want a packaged treatment plant. So much better and little extra cost, and no extra work to istall. Ours will be discharging into a burn though it's somewhat harder to get permission for that up here.
Posted 15 April 2016 - 05:35 PM
I'm not really familiar with a package treatment plant, it's not really something I've looked into other than I know half of the village aren't on mains and we have 2 lots of friends who live there both with septic tanks, one of the houses is relatively new too. More research to do there then.
Sounds like it is the time to start looking properly at plots now then. All of the available ones have DPP, but we want to design the house ourselves (with an architect of course) - isn't this the one of the best things about self build? I assume I just resubmit plans for the house I actually want, can that be done prior to the purchase? I don't want to end up with some land that I have to build a house I don't want on it.
We are drawing up our own plans because I'd like to get a comparison of costs between the different construction methods, once we have the plot I know I will likely need to adjust them to make things fit but isn't it better to at least know which method will work out most cost effective for us to prevent delay further down the line?
Posted 15 April 2016 - 05:58 PM
The use of a normal search engine with the "site:www.ebuild.co.uk" modifier is a very useful way of finding anything else on here quickly, too, although you may find more than you were bargaining for!
Lots of people buy plots with DPP and then submit a new planning application. It's exactly what we did, and I know others here have done the same. I'd go so far as to say it's probably the normal way self-builders get the house they want. A read through some of the blogs on this site may prove useful, as many of them illustrate the trials and tribulations, along with the joys, of the process of self-building. I'll start with a blatant plug and suggest this one : http://www.ebuild.co...t-mill-orchard/ (in normal blog format the most recent entry is first, so you need to go back to the first entry to read the tale in chronological order). There are many other blogs here that are equally useful, have a look under the "blogs" tab at the top left of the forum.
I drew our plans, didn't use an architect, did our own building control submission and managed the build, and ended up doing a great deal more practical work than I intended, as I gained confidence. My personal view is that pretty much anyone can do a lot of the expensive work that various consultants do, with the exceptions of structural engineering sign off and perhaps detailed topographical surveying.
The build method you choose will be very plot specific, I think. For example, ground conditions will determine the foundation system, and so you may find that your preferred construction method doesn't fit well with the needed foundation system, A good example would be if you needed piled foundations and wanted to build with a passive slab. It can be done, but as at least one member here has discovered it isn't without a few problems. In our case we found a plot on a sloping site, so had to work around the foundations for the very large (and expensive) retaining wall. We couldn't have used a trench foundation if we had wanted to, because of the possible interaction with the projecting retaining wall foundation.
Best to gather data at this stage, perhaps put together a scrapbook of things you like, so you can refer back to it when you have found a plot, and also put together a short list (maybe ten points) of the things that you really want from your new home. We found that both these things were a great help when we finally got a plot and had to design a house to fit on it, meet all of the restrictions imposed by the planners, AONB committee, Conservation Officer and the Environment Agency. It definitely helps to be fairly pragmatic, too, and recognise that some battles with bureaucracy can be won and others are not worth fighting!
Edited by jsharris, 15 April 2016 - 05:59 PM.
Posted 15 April 2016 - 06:06 PM
I meant to say, what part of that area of the country are you in? 'East Anglia' covers a hell of a lot of country.
Posted 15 April 2016 - 06:11 PM
It really is no harder to install than a septic tank, the only extra being you need a low power electricity supply to it to drive a small air blower. I think most on here will advise to use a treatment plant that works on the air blower principle and there are several to choose from. Avoid the ones that have mechanical moving parts like rotating disks. Anyone with half a brain can see rotating parts in such a dirty environment are not going to last long, and the task of fixing them when they go wrong is not one I would want.
The advantage of a treatment plant is a much cleaner effluent, clean enough to discharge to a watercourse if one id available, but if discharging to a soakaway, then it doesn't need to be as large as one would be for a septic tank.
Cetainly up here building control are pushing for all new builds to have a treatment plant rather than a septic tank.
Before you complete on your purchase you need to be sure you can get all services to the plot, which may mean negotiating wayleaves with adjoining properties. And you need to be sure you can build the house you want, so an offer subject to planning for the house you want is not unreasonable. There's plenty there to delay the exchange of contracts until your inheritance has come through so start looking at plots now.
Edited by ProDave, 15 April 2016 - 06:13 PM.
Posted 15 April 2016 - 06:46 PM
However, as much as it is correct to say the Plot will dictate the house, I have to agree with your views in as much as we had a vision of the type of house we wanted to build before really viewing any Plots - We also had provisional plans drawn up and submitted to one of the various "online" estimators, to provide us with a more forensic costing of the intended build as we didn't want to find ourselves in a position of maybe buying a Plot of land and then finding out we couldn't afford to build what we wanted.
Enjoy the Show over the weekend and pick up magazines and brochures - read, research, read and research again.
Finally, ask questions on here because we know there are a lot of similar people in the shadows and they as well as us, will no doubt benefit from your contributions or questions.
Posted 15 April 2016 - 09:33 PM
Make sure you check out for local wildlife. It can stop your development and cost a lot for environmental reports. We all love wildlife, but not too close by.
Some of us are interested in energy usage, and how to reduce it. You can get a decent feel for this by measuring what you currently use, some thing can be improved on easily, other may not be so easy (teenager in a shower). Measure what you can.
Pricing is an odd one, you can spend the same amount on a kitchen and bathroom as you can on the shell of the building. Break the house down into its parts and price them up.
Renewable technology is really a no brainer, you can self generate with PV easily enough, and you can multiply those kWh with heat pump technology. Realistically that is as far as a normal household can do. It a decently designed modern house you really don't need much space heating, water heating becomes the problem. And there are a lot of 'right' answers to that problem. There are also many pitfalls.
Cambridgeshire is a nice country, unlike the horror that is Norfolk.
Posted 16 April 2016 - 08:22 AM
My own plot had a 11,000V electric cable and a brittle 4" water main across the plot but we knew about them before purchase and checked the route. The house we wanted to build would fit but the house that the previous owner got approved would have been too close to the electric cable.
Try "How to find and buy a building plot" by Roy Speer and others. Check for latest edition as planning rules change.
Posted 17 April 2016 - 10:08 PM
Posted 18 April 2016 - 12:34 PM
Hi roundtoit where abouts are you building?
We've found some land but it comes with some potential issues that may just prove too much to overcome for someone with as little experience as me.