jonM

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  1. We are just commencing our second self-build (started onsite last week). In both cases we have used Architects and in both cases have been very happy with the results. We have outlined how in both case we selected and worked with our architect which we hope will assist other people starting out on their self build journey. 1) Start thinking about which architect you are going to use when you start looking for land and not when you have found land. 2) Draw out a requirements list. My approach is to provide a brief / framework for the architect to interpret rather than prescriptively dictating to the last detail. Requirements should be no more than 2 pages. By making the requirements generic, you can apply them to most plots of land. Include in the requirements why you are building as well (develop and sell, house for life etc) 3) Checkout your architects previous designs. There is likely to be a common design pattern and if that is way off what you want then maybe the architect isn't for you. Also go and see a couple of houses - just viewing from the outside can tell you a lot. 4) If you see a plot that is a potential candidate, email architects on your shortlist for feedback. Most architects will provide feedback for free within reason and the reply will help you to decide if the architect is thinking along the same lines as you. Also, meet with your architect before you engage formally to check that they are a person that you can work with. 5) Be completely upfront with the architect about your budget, put it in your requirements list and be very clear what that budget includes and doesn't include. 6) Be completely upfront with your architect about their fees. Fees based on a %age of the build cost are OK as long as the build cost used is your budget for the build at the outset (fixed) rather than the actual build cost (variable). 7) Good architects are in high demand and don't need to advertise so you will need to research (a lot) and do your legwork. Be prepared for the fact that you might need to wait for the architect you want to become available. 8. Check whether the architect has any experience in the build method you want to adopt and the energy standards that you want to achieve. Find out what the build costs have been on recent build projects and how these compared to budgeted costs . 9) Check with the relevant boards that any claimed registrations are correct. 10) Fees may seem expensive, but for the amount of work that goes into a design I have always felt I got good value for money. In the context of the cost of the project it is a small percentage much of which can be quite easily recouped with a little restraint on the fixtures and fittings. 11) If you use an architect local to the build, it is more likely that he will be able to advise on securing good contractors based on experience of previous builds. My architect has more than recouped his fee by drawing up an attractive house that is straightforward to build. Insulation is what we need to get to passivhaus but no more and the size of the house is what we can build to meet our budget (based on his previous build costs) and requirements. Listed below are the requirements we drew up which may assist others going through a similar exercise: Build Budget: £325K (House, Garage) excludes landscaping, external works and professional fees. The Plot There were a large number of objections to the development from residents but planning permission was granted on appeal. Plot width is around 16.7m. Plot length is 44m. Electricity, Water and mains sewerage (but not gas) available at the plot boundary. Functions of the Building Home for ourselves and the dog. Enough room for friends, grown-up children to stay and family get-togethers. Building a house for life as we can’t get what we like on the open market. We love cooking and the outdoors, so it should support that. Combine open plan living combined with a segregated quiet room downstairs Provide a comfortable and healthy interior environment with a stable temperature and no drafts. Design Direction and Requirements Good natural light to rooms is really important with dual aspect windows in as many rooms as possible but not too keen on huge oversized windows that require complex and expensive shading solutions Designed to Passivhaus standards in a cost-effective manner but don’t over-rely on technology that has high cost to install and maintain. Downstairs Open plan kitchen, dining room and seating area Utility room (able to dry clothes in using pulley) Lounge Small Study if possible WC / Washbasin Good Storage – larder cupboard, cloakroom and cupboard for cleaning utensils Somewhere to sort out a muddy dog and muddy boots (A covered porch with a stone floor and bench maybe). Sliding doors or similar out to the garden from the sitting area. Bottom of kitchen window to be level with the kitchen worktop. Back door into the utility room No large step into front or back door WC away from front door if possible Upstairs 3 to 4 double bedrooms. Small study if not room downstairs (or 4th bedroom) Built in wardrobes Cathedral ceiling. Master bedroom should be able to comfortably take a king size be. En-suite in master. Separate shower in bathroom. General Heating / DHW – no mains gas. Solar PV with a diverter? ASHP (noise?) Consideration given to some acoustic insulation between rooms and between downstairs / upstairs. Doesn’t need to be completely soundproof however. LED lighting throughout and up the staircase Point for charging electric car. Ability to use battery storage in the future should it become more cost-effective. No requirement for chimney or wood burning stove. Agnostic about whether the garage is attached or detached, but should have storage for bikes and a little workshop area. Could be modified for easy access upstairs in the future (Straight staircase maybe). Point for charging electric car. Low maintenance exterior for windows and wall facings. House to have a more contemporary feel inside. Outside to tie in with planning / design code. Window frames recessed into the openings. Other Stuff Recess in shower wall for soap etc. Built in bookcases Lots of sockets Sockets in cupboards for charging hoover etc. Room in utility room for dog crate Built in water filter Water softener Lighting on dimmers with switches that gradually turn LED lights on so they don’t blow. Good outdoor lighting (pathways) Outdoor power point / tap Phone point in every room
  2. jonM

    Leicht Kichens

    @Hecateh that looks like the Luca style from DIY Kitchens that you are having fitted which is what we have got our eye on when the time comes. Looks good - what colour / type of worktop are you going for and did you go for the gloss or matt finish ?
  3. jonM

    Fitted wardrobes

    Thanks. Looks Good - something to bear in mind for us as well.
  4. @lizzie Thanks, I think that's good advice. We will most likely build the house and garage in parallel and use a different storage option for materials to save money on the inspections. I also need a warranty to prove I am a self-builder for my CIL exemption which is another good reason. @curlewhouse Thanks, I read your blog and that is unreal ! I am not using mainstream (ibeam timber frame with cellulose insulation) and for that reason am using a building inspector familiar with the build method rather than one provided by the warranty company. It is more expensive that way but will hopefully prevent any unnecessary delays. Stunning location and lovely house by the way.
  5. Thanks and yes I did try them, but they came out quite expensive. It seems an awful lot of money to pay for something that only seems to be of use if you wish to sell the house in 10 years. I will probably swallow hard, take a deep breath and purchase one even though I don't plan to move again as a "just in case" insurance policy. Likely to go with selfbuildzone although they have doubled my audit fee (extra £800) because I am building the garage first then the house so they need to do double the inspections.
  6. Requested a quote for a warranty from Proaktive and received the following reply: "Unfortunately not no. Our provider, Premier Guarantee pulled out of the self build market wef 1/9/18. As yet we don’t have an alternative provider." Seems like warranty providers for individual self builders are becoming quite thin on the ground as many providers seem more geared to volume house builders.
  7. Thanks so much for the feedback. Some really good suggestions on both the layout and preparing for the build. So many decisions to make !
  8. I have now purchased a plot after several years of looking. The plot is in Bishops Castle, South Shropshire and one of nine on a self build / custom build site just a couple of miles away from the Welsh Border. It is a really lovely town and I can't wait to get started. Planning has been submitted for the house which will be built to Passivhaus standards. Waiting now for the planning to be approved after which we will be making a start on the groundworks. Trying to get ahead of the game by deciding all of the interior fittings before we start (main learning lesson from first time). A picture of the plot and design is enclosed.
  9. + 1 for Passive House Plus. Some very informative case studies. I think I only paid £10 for a years online subscription which also gave access to back issues.
  10. @newhome Could I ask who you remortgaged with ? I have approached a couple of lenders who have said that they won't lend for the purpose of financing a self-build in that way.
  11. jonM

    diy-kitchens.com any experience?

    Took a trip up to DIY Kitchens yesterday and very impressed with what I saw. Their planning tool also seems to be available again. I particularly like the fact that everything around the pricing is so transparent, everyone gets charged the same price and I can play around with a design online to understand the implications of certain options on prices. A no-nonsense Yorkshire company offering great value for money ?
  12. I would expect that the Design / Engineering Fees were incorporated into the kit cost. Nothing comes for free. I felt that starting with a clean sheet of paper and using an Architect to design a house for my plot was a good investment to make. It was a small percentage of the overall budget and worked out well, but it does depend on your budget.
  13. Plot is in Shropshire.
  14. £900 + £180 VAT, but a quote without BRegs is not £1080 cheaper as the cost of the site audit fee for the warranty goes up then.