Robert Du Noyer's Graven Hill self build

5 things you should know before self-building

Make sure you do your research before embarking on building your own home

By Karen Curtin | 26 November 2021

For many, designing and building your own home is the ultimate dream. Offering full creative freedom, little can compare to the feeling of looking back at your self-build journey and thinking, ‘I did that’.

Building a home isn’t for the faint hearted. From securing a plot, to the build itself, making this dream a reality can be challenging. However, the benefits outweigh the difficulties, and there is certainly a lot to get excited about. For those bold enough to take it on, Karen Curtin, managing director at Graven Hill, shares five key things to think about before getting started.

1. Finding a plot

Perhaps the most important part of any build is securing the perfect self-build plot. Self-builders must be prepared to invest time and money into finding the right plot – once this is secured, the real work can begin.

When it came to finding his plot, Robert Du Noyer, architect and self-builder at Graven Hill, said that being close to both countryside and the city was an important part of his decision: ‘As soon as I found Graven Hill, I knew it was the perfect option. Its unique ethos intrigued me, and I loved the sense of individuality that radiated from the site.

‘Its proximity to London, Bicester and the Cotswolds countryside ticked every box. Having lived in bustling Dubai for so long, I didn’t want to be too far away from the city, but the access to green space was equally important.’

Graven Hill’s Plot Passport helps streamline the process. In addition to providing all the relevant plot information and guidelines, the scheme speeds up the self-build process by guaranteeing planning permission within 28 days of registration.

Robert Du Noyer, architect and self-builder at Graven Hill

Self-builder Robert Du Noyer outside his new home. Photo: Graven Hill Village Development Company

2. Expect the unexpected

Rarely does self-building go exactly as planned. When undertaking such a huge project, it is important to be prepared for the unexpected, both physically and financially. Often, it’s the things that can’t be controlled that have the most severe impact, such as planning permission, severe weather, and supply issues.

While it is not always possible to prevent these things, certain steps can be taken to help reduce the cost, both to the build and overall. Making sure there is enough wiggle room in the budget can help reduce the stress if hiccups do occur. Schemes such as Help to Build and specific self-build mortgages can support the financing of projects, ensuring that money is the last of the worries.

Perfect for those building their own home, self-build mortgages provide funding in different stages as the build progresses. In addition to protecting the lender, these mortgages provide self-builders with some reassurance that funds won’t dry up halfway through construction.