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7 Steps to Build a House in Your Garden – A Self Build Guide

Wondering how to build your own home or looking at the possibility of a self build? You might not need to look any further than your own garden. If you’re lucky enough to have a generous patch, you could have the perfect self build land to build a house. Here’s quick guide to the stages of building a house in the UK.

You’ll avoid all the complications and costs of finding self build land and securing planning permission before you buy, plus you won’t need to knock your existing house down so you’ll be able to live comfortably whilst you build your own home! The stages of building a house in the UK can be daunting, but we hope this guide can help with a quick overview.

It could also significantly add value to your property, perhaps provide accommodation for a relative or generate extra income if you decide to rent it out – all in all, it’s pretty much a win-win situation.

If you already own the land you might ask; do I need planning permission? Can I build a house in my garden? Am I ready to self build? Is the land large enough to self build? Well, there are a few key considerations you might need to ponder first.

front entrance and gate to modern self build family home in Wiltshire

1. Do you have enough space?

How will it sit within the existing street scene? Planners are more likely to give your application the green light if it harmonises with the surrounding area. The ideal building site has frontage on an existing road, and as little as 30ft to the side of your house can provide enough land for a new property. To work out if the new build will have a detrimental affect on your existing property’s value, you should aim for the overall plot to be at least three times the building’s footprint, but this is a very general rule of thumb. Self build land is not easy to come by, and with your own garden, you might just have the perfect place to build your own home.

Our project, the Dentist’s House, is situated within a conservation area and an Area of Archaeological Interest. The client owned a dental practice with flat over and was looking at building a home for their growing family on the land behind. Although the site is generous in size, the many TPOs (tree protection orders) and flood plain greatly reduced the available land to build a house on.

To mitigate these, the form of the building is one-sided, narrow and long. This is a result of bringing the building away from the TPOs, as well as the flood plain’s area of risk. The one-sided design also allows all the bedrooms great views across the garden and river. Therefore, although you may not be sure if your site is big enough, or you have limitations that decrease your possible build size, a good architect should be able to design a great scheme to accommodate.

2. Covenants

Are there any legal restrictions on the land that prevent it from being built on? Or a right of way? Check with Land Registry to find out and don’t sweat if there are, they can potentially be removed with the help of legal assistance. However, if you fail to adhere to any existing covenants you could find your dreams demolished if you’re hit with an injunction.

3. Context

You’re more likely to secure planning first time round if the design is in keeping with houses in the local area. If your focus is modern architecture, in a conservation area you might need to prepare yourself for a more challenging planning application and perhaps seek the professional advice of a planning consultant.

The Dentist’s House is situated in a conservation area in Downton, Wiltshire. Our design was influenced by the traditional and historical architecture of the area, with great sensitivity placed upon the decisions made in order to respect the architectural language of Downton. Not only are the forms traditional, but the agricultural heritage of Downton also informed the materials used.

Having control of the design also means you can do all you can to prevent the new build being an eyesore and having a detrimental affect on your existing property’s value. Whereas, if left in the hands of a developer with a focus on profit, they might not be so generous.

modern self build home with black composite timber cladding

4. Capital Gains Tax Considerations

You can side-step the hefty cost of CGT if you move into your new build and sell your old house. Or, if you sell off your garden with planning permission for someone else to undertake the project – as long as the land size is under 0.6 hectares.

5. Finding a Local Architect

Okay, so what are the steps to build a house? If you’re wondering how to build a house in the UK you can find a local architect by visiting the RIBA website. Make sure they’re a fully qualified RIBA accredited architect as they’ll have a high level of skill, knowledge and are obligated to maintain high levels of insurance whereas an architectural technician or designer won’t be held accountable to the same level – should something go wrong you might not have the protection you’d need.

If you’re on a sensitive site, you should consider finding a conservation architect or someone who specialises in securing planning on sensitive sites. Check out our Dentist House project for more information of a project completed on a sensitive site.

6. How Much Does It Cost To Build A House?

At the very outset you should establish your budget by combining your savings, equity released from your house sale and funds available from a self build mortgage. This is a vital stage of building a house, if not the most important. It’s also not easy to build a house with no money! 

A good starting point is using the online calculators that help you get a rough idea of your new build costs based on the floor area. However, it’s vitally important you understand the full costs at the start. It’s not just the size of the house that determines the spend, it’s the materials you choose, the building method, the design, whether you employ a builder to run it or are brave enough to project manage it yourself, and more.

Fail to prepare and prepare to fail. Get your budget under control from the off and manage it closely at every stage and always, always have at least 10% contingency. You can’t plan for the unexpected, but having a pot of money if something crops up will keep things moving forward.

7. Funding The Project

You’re already getting a head start to build your own home if you own the land you’re building on as you could get an accelerator mortgage. This type of mortgage will give you a percentage of the land value to start off with which could pay for a large proportion of the build costs. Self build mortgages also release the money for your project in staged payments. This means you’ll only accrue interest on what you need, as you need it and as they’re typically interest-only loans, it’ll reduce the monthly burden of a large mortgage repayment. At the end of the build you’ll then be able to switch to a standard mortgage product.

If you have a large mortgage on your existing property you might have to sell it to fund your grand design. Self build mortgages require a larger deposit than a standard mortgage as they’re viewed as more risky. There are also less lenders out there offering this type of product, which increases how much the deposit is. As it’s a more specialised mortgage product, it’s worth seeking out someone who specialises in this type of application and understands the self build market.

Footprint in Focus – The Dentist House Situated on a flood plain in Downton, Wiltshire, the Dentist House, a self build project, provides a family with a contemporary new home. The key design driver for the project was to create a contemporary design with consideration, and influence from, the traditional aesthetic of the village in the conservation area.
modern family self build home with timber composite cladding in Wiltshire
modern kitchen of a self build family home in Wiltshire

If you have a self build project you would like to discuss, please feel free to contact us. We offer support through all stages of building a house, and would love to be involved in your self build project. Get in touch – we’d love to hear about it! We also have a guide on How to Get Planning Permission for you, discover more below.

How to Get Planning Permission

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