Hire the Professionals - Design

Helping Hands: Hiring the Right Professionals for Your Self Build

Allan Corfield Architect, Construction Professionals, extensions, Self Build 7 Comments

‘If you want a thing done well, hire the professionals!’

When laying out the plans for a dream home, sometimes enthusiasm can get the better of Self Builders. Giving in to temptation and taking on the role of project manager can sometimes hamper progress and can also have an impact on the overall costs if the Self Builder lacks the required experience.

In assembling a team of qualified professionals to help you with your Self Build, you can have direct input in the design and planning of your home, whilst benefitting from the diverse industry experiences your professionals have to offer. You can still have an active involvement in the building of your own home without the added time and stress that comes with taking on the Self Build project management entirely by yourself.

So which professionals do you need for your Self Build?

Before you can start your Self Build project, having the right funds behind you is crucial. Whether you have organized the sale of your existing home, a Self Build Mortgage, or have savings behind you, seeking the help of  financial professionals should be very near the top of the list. Working out a budget is crucial before you even think about looking for land or starting designs.

Hire the Professionals - Land Surveyor

Once you know what you will be able to afford, acquiring a plot of land comes next. Paying a land surveyor to assess the plots you like is recommended before buying – this ensures that the land you are potentially buying is suitable and has all of the necessary services connected such as drainage, water and electricity. Having the land surveyed by professionals can also help to confirm the boundaries of your Self Build plot.

The next step after purchasing your plot is to appoint an architect for the design process. Your architect will need to know a variety of things about your Self Build project, such as your budget, your design style, and if there are any particular requirements you need the build to have. Having a thorough design brief for your selected architect is crucial. You want your architect to understand your lifestyle, so that their design can reflect your needs better. You can also approach architects at the very beginning to project manage your Self Build for a percentage of the overall build cost – meaning your agreed design is adhered to by the building contractor, and you can enjoy a hassle-free experience.

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After finding the right architect, next on the list is a structural engineer. As the Institution of Structural Engineers explains, structural engineers are involved at every stage of a structure’s realisation, and they play a key part in design and construction teams. These engineers use structural analysis to understand the effects of loads and stresses caused by gravity, the users of the structure, and the widely varying climatic conditions and ground conditions around the world. Choosing appropriate materials for the structure is also an important feature of the structural engineer’s work. Throughout a Self Build project, they are usually called upon at the detailed design stage, and are required for the Building Warrant approval. Your engineer will also check the ground conditions of your proposed site, which will define the foundation design. If the site is remote and not serviced by main drains, they will need to assess the porosity of the ground – determining issues such as whether surface water can drain into a soakaway, for example.

Hire the Professionals - Architect

The only other main consultant that would be required is an energy consultant or a Standard Assessment Procedure, or SAP, assessor. These professionals work with the architect to score the energy performance of your proposed home. They take all of the construction elements, from the wall build-up to floor make-up, add this to the location and heating sources, and work out the building’s overall performance. This information is used to estimate the heating demand and costs for the proposed building, and is included in the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The EPC is a required by law and must be completed in draft format before construction, as well as upon completion.

Whether it is you, your architect, or a separate project manager running the Self Build management, a builder will need appointing at some stage. If you hire a main contractor, these professionals effectively project-manage the build process for you – which again means one less procedure for you to worry about. Hiring separate builders for different stages of the Self Build may work out cheaper in some cases, however, there are no guarantees the build quality will be consistent. Hiring a main contractor can be beneficial in obtaining discounts on the build materials – this comes from experience in the profession, which many Self-Builders miss out on when project-managing the build process themselves.

Hire the Professionals - Builder

The benefits of professional help in the build management extend into the recruitment of trusted tradesmen for finishing your Self Build Home. Having a main contractor will allow easier links to professionals in important areas such as joinery, plumbing, electrics, and roofing. As well as this, you may have to consider engineers for heating; painters and decorators; and landscape designers if your Self Build includes a garden.

Seeking professional help in the management and building of your Self Build project can save you a lot of time, stress and money – as you have more chance of things being done correctly the first time of asking. The part you play is in building a team of professionals you can trust to run your project the way you want. Once the right professionals are in place, you can take a more relaxed position, and can enjoy the experience of having your own home built for you.

Team Building!

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? For help with managing your Self Build project, or for advice on assembling a team of construction professionals, contact ACA today, or leave a comment below!

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Comments 7

  1. It’s good to know that a land surveyor is necessary when it comes to knowing if a plot of land is suitable to build on. I never really understood what their job was. I’m glad I came across your article because my wife and I have been looking for a great spot we can build a cabin. All we were looking for was a good view and now I know we need to consider a lot more. Thanks for your help!

  2. I totally agree in that if you want something done right hire the professional. I mean I can do basic things here and there but for really difficult projects definitely get a professional opinion. What things do you look for in professionals?

  3. Thanks for explaining how important it is to enlist the services of a professional land surveyor before you buy a plot of land. It seems like it would be beneficial to consult with a trained professional who can ensure that you are buying a quality piece of property. I would also think that it is important to understand where the actual property lines are, so you don’t start building on someone else’s property by accident.

  4. I just thought a land surveyor checked boundary lines! It is good to know they do more than that though, since I would like to hire one. I like that they survey things like electricity, water, and so on. That way, if I hire one, he/she will be able to tell me what is wrong with the property before I buy it!

  5. I really like your thoughts about having land surveyed by professionals to confirm the boundaries of your self build plot. I can definitely see how a good site surveyor would be able to help you understand exactly what sort of things are happening with the property you plan to build on. It might seem like an extra expense initially, but I imagine it’s the sort of expense that pays itself off in the long run.

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  6. Where the project is situated within a Local Planning Authority (LPA) that has adopted Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) I would also strongly advocate a property taxation adviser – familiar with CIL – be consulted. We have seen countless owners and projects loose out on their CIL exemptions by not having taken timely advise on CIL.

    Three worse issues:
    1. Thinking CIL doesn’t apply and commencing work, blissfully unaware of the imminent CIL liability that the LPA will rigoursly pursue once work started on site – a modest house can easily have £20-40K with larger homes having CIL costs of £30-120K or more depending upon the size, location and LPA CIL and if in London the additional levy of Mayoral CIL abbreviated as MCIL – double whammy!
    2. Demolishing existing premises prior to grant of full permission – loosing offset of existing GIA so CIL applied to full New build not increment only.
    3. Not processing the relevant CIL forms and commencing work before finalisation of CIL Self Build Exemption (House/Extension or Annex) process is completed with the LPA.

    As Luke above mentions good, timely advice ALWAYS pays for itself!

    There are also VAT issues but these are largely better known and ‘more visible’ than CIL that we regularly see owners and developers falling into ‘Bear Traps’ by not understanding the precise steps required under the hugely complex CIL Regulations.

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