Key to the success of your self build is finding the right professionals, who’ll be as passionate about your home as you are.

wood cladding self build home - how to hire the right project team for your self-build - self-build homes -

Image: Mark Bolton 

However hands-on you intend to be with your construction process, a good crew of contractors, consultants and tradespeople that you trust is essential for a successful, low-stress build. Local recommendations from friends, family and neighbours are a good place to start your search, but do make thorough background checks before hiring anyone.

Find a brilliant builder

Choosing a builder is one of the most important decisions you will make. Try to find an experienced tradesperson with a good track record of delivering projects that are similar to yours. Speak to previous clients; visit a completed house and one that’s in progress as proof of their credentials. Don’t make your choice solely based on the prices that have been quoted – remember that the best builder will often not be the cheapest.

Read more: How to brief a builder on a home renovation project

Hiring the experts

Look for consultants, contractors and tradespeople who are interested in your project, who ask questions and suggest ideas. Someone who is engaged and keen to do the work is going to be far easier to deal with than someone who is unenthusiastic or uncommunicative.

Provide toilet facilities and a good supply of tea, coffee and biscuits – make your site a nice place to work and people will want to be there.

modern self build grand design -  how to hire the right project team for your self-build - self-build homes -

Image: Darren Chung

Prepare the paperwork

It’s vital to have a construction contract in place before any work gets underway; avoid hiring a builder or contractor who is reluctant to use one. Make sure it contains everything you would like done. This might include the supply of materials and the removal and disposal of waste.

The document sets out the key roles and responsibilities of client and contractor to help avoid disputes arising from a lack of clear guidelines. It also details how any disputes that do crop up should be managed. Try the RIBA Domestic Building Contract, which costs from £30.

read a free issue of grand designs magazine

Choose the best manager 

There are many options available when it comes to the project management of your build. You may wish to take on this role yourself, particularly if you have experience and the work is fairly simple. If you have hired an architect, they could take on all or part of the role.

The construction contract helps avoid disputes arising due to a lack of clear guidelines hire a specialist; project managers typically charge 10-15 per cent of your build cost.

For a standard new-build house or extension, the job is unlikely to be complex, so a good general builder could be all you need for project management.

Read more: How to project manage your own self build

Check the quality

Ensure that regular inspections are made at key stages. ‘Attend the site to confirm that the setting out and construction of all the elements is true to the design and specification requirements,’ says Rhona Waugh, director at Found Associates. ‘The omission or substitution of any part can have a detrimental effect on the overall quality of the build, as can the misalignment of structural elements or masonry.’

To the untrained eye, structural errors are not as easy to spot as finishes such as bad tiling, so your architect or project manager will need to be on site for these stages. 


For more self-build advice and ideas, read Grand Designs magazine digitally for free now by registering your details

read a free issue of grand designs magazine



6 things architects want you to know about your self-build or renovation

Is hardwood flooring right for your home?

How to choose a roof light for your extension

Kevins Column

Grand Designs Live: Ask an Expert Weekend 22-23 May 2021

Discover free home project advice and product recommendations from the comfort of your own home. Register now to express your interest.
Self Build Homes

Bespoke architect designed homes that embrace their locations

With a bespoke architect-designed home you can create a house that suits your practical and aesthetic needs while ensuring it blends into its surroundings
Self Build Homes

6 self builders who carried out the building work themselves

To beat budget restraints, these have-a-go heroes rolled up their sleeves and tackled the construction of their homes themselves.
Self Build Homes

Tour this Canadian lakeside retreat, designed to endure extreme climates

Using sintered stone, this home has been created to survive Canada's extreme weather conditions.
Self Build Homes

Award-winning architects for design-led homes

The finest architects don’t just focus on your home’s exterior – they offer a complete service that marries the house’s form with a stunning interior....
Self Build Homes

How ground source heat pump systems can save you money on your energy bills

Opt for a ground source heat pump system with smart controls that can help cut energy bills and cut down on carbon use.
Self Build Homes

Off grid homes: 5 UK self builds for eco-friendly living

Self sustainability was the goal of these off grid homes in the UK. Read how these self builders achieved it.