A Beginner’s Guide to Self-build

November 10, 2017

What is self-build?

In short, people who have the opportunity to design and build their own home to the budget, specification and build method they choose. There are many ways to approach self-building depending on how involved you want to be – from finding your own architect and trades, or handing the lot over to a package house company.

What is custom build?

Custom Build is a self-build project through a developer who already has a serviced plot. This might be for one home, a number of homes or a community self-build. The design for your home is bespoke to you, and the developer will take charge of project managing and constructing the house.

Where could I find a plot?

A slice of land with planning permission already in place is becoming increasingly difficult to find in parts of the UK. Try,, Even property search websites like are worth keeping an eye on. The most common route is to demolish an existing property and start again.

How can I pay for a self-build?

A specialist self-build mortgage is like any other mortgage with varied interest rates and length of term – the difference is money is released in stage payments. Each payment relates to a key stage in the build and can be in arrears or in advance. Self-build mortgages are available through a number of banks and building societies – Build It magazine publish an up-to-date list every month.

Where can I find an architect?

Finding an architect or designer who is in tune with your ideas is key, as are good relationships. Word of mouth is often useful for a true insight. Collate pictures of houses you like online or in magazines and jot down the architect’s name. The Royal Institute of British Architects have an online search facility of member architects at

At Welsh Oak Frame, our in-house architectural team are experts in oak frame design. We can work with you from scratch, customise one of our existing designs or adapt your architect’s design into a desirable oak- framed house.

What is a package company?

A package or kit company builds in oak, timber frame, brick and block or structural insulated panels, and produce off-the-shelf designs that you can directly buy. In reality, the majority of self-builders either adapt a design they like to suit their needs, work with an in-house designer on a bespoke design, or use their own architect’s drawings. Construction input is offered at varying levels: from manufacture and supply only; through to turn-key where they take your project through to completion.

We offer a ‘pick and mix’ approach to build packages to cater for every type of self-builder. Just want us to supply and erect the oak frame? We can do this. Prefer more of a helping hand along the way? We can do this too.

What if I don’t want to use a package company?

You can employ your own architect and find a building contractor who will buy materials, supply all the trades and project manage. Or you can do everything yourself. Often self-builders take on some of the responsibilities, like buying certain materials, hiring some of the trades – and agree all the details with their builder beforehand.

What’s the best way to get planning permission?

The Planning Portal offers advice on how to submit a correct application ( or your architect can do this for you. A pre-application enquiry is useful for feedback to see if you’re on the right track. If you think your application may raise big question marks then consider hiring a planning consultant to strengthen your case.

We offer planning consultancy services through a team of planning experts. We can prepare and submit your application, and manage the process through to the outcome. We want you to be successful and will be upfront early on if we think your chances are slim.

What else do I need to know?

Make sure you have appropriate insurances in place. Public liability protects against damage or injury to the public. Employer’s liability protects against injury to sub-contractors. Contract works protects the building materials and the building while under construction. Check the small print includes hired equipment and legal expenses. A 10-year structural warranty covers the house against defects for ten years after completion.

Keep an eye on our blog pages as we delve deeper into each of these areas as well as adding more great informative advice.