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About Me


  1. Another daughter, another self build renovation / change of use. Recommendations for what insurance / insurances we need please. It is a barn conversion in SE England. I promise more details when appropriate. Bank of M and D. It has been drifting along at lawyers' pace for many months and suddenly it is time to sign. And suddenly we realise we have to insure it. TOMORROW!! Nobody told us.
  2. Hello everyone, Occasionally a lurker here over the years but finally decided to change things up and join up and ask for advice (and maybe add some in the future?). My wife and I are looking at how realistic it is to do a self build (ICF preferred) of approx 100m2 (either 1 or 2 storey) with a total budget of £150K (excluding plot cost), right down to the kitchen /bathroom fittings (midrange). I intend to DIY as much as possible, paying trades for the skilled aspects etc. Now I know it's a how long's a piece of string question and I suspect that I'm missing something / seriously underestimating costs but some "rough" calculations look like this (excuse the ordering!) : Carpet etc inc. fitting £3,000 Electrics £5,000 Plumbing & bathrooms £10,000 Triple glazed windows £15,000 Kitchen complete £10,000 Stairs £3,000 Foundations £12,000 Fencing £3,000 Heating, solar, pump, etc £15,000 Legal fees etc £10,000 Roof £11k ICF walls & concrete £25,000 Flooring frames £3,000 For a rough total of £125,000. How wrong (or right) am I? I appreciate any answers because currently I'm reading so much that one moment my budget seems reasonable and the next it's nowhere close!
  3. Hi we're completely new to self build, we've renovated property before but never built from scratch. We've possibly located a plot - not purchased it yet - it has planning in place and services: elec, water and phone connection, but tricky access and a slope along one boundary. We're thinking of building using SIPs as we want a house that's going to be well insulated, quick to build and hopefully won't give us to many problems in relation to the access. I think it's going to be a steep learning curve so I'm hoping to find lots of tips and advice on the forum. I'm working out what we need to do next and have been reading about Conditional Contracts in relation to purchasing the plot and getting a Site / topographical survey done. Is there anything else we should be thinking about at this stage?
  4. Hi everyone, Just a quick introduction to our project - we're doing our first self build and will be project managing ourselves. We've got lot's to learn as we go, and so would love to connect with others who are also along the journey or recently completed. If you're interested in following our journey, we're documenting everything on instagram which has plans and more; our profile is here: @thefoxesmaltings Below is a 3D render our architect produced of our project. If anyone has questions on any part of our process so far (securing planning in an AONB/Green belt etc.) feel free to ask and we'll help if we can.
  5. Hi everyone, really excited to be here. I'm Axel. After a long process of deliberation between ourselves, me and my partner decided to finally go down the route of buying property in the UK. A bit of background. We are both Spanish from Barcelona, and we came to Solihull 5 years ago now looking for an adventure. The last couple of years we wanted to leave the UK and try going nomad for a while, but in the end we were undecisive. Finally, we have decided that before doing that, we want to create our first base camp somewhere, and that somewhere we prefer it to be the UK. Now, we don't have a lot of specifications, and we are EXTREMELY unfamiliar with all of this. Things we know/wish for are: We don't have a specific location in mind, but location is important. Having a large international airport nearby is key for us. Birmingham has worked well for us so far, and while we know going norther would be cheaper, the airports are not any better, plus we get further away from London options. So ideally, we would be looking anywhere from Birmingham to the South (we know that's the most expensive part though, but still evaluating the options). We don't have a car (we sold it 2y ago as we didn't need or want it) and ideally we would like to live without one. We use Uber and public transport as needed. Meaning it's sort of important not to be fully isolated, even when we like it. Although if the location was amazing cost-wise, we can consider the car no problem. We want a base camp. Not a fully fledged house. And this is key. Our dream about this started when, after traveling a lot and staying at lots of different places, we realised we really didn't need much to live in. 50sqm were quite enough for us, maybe tight, but 70sqm definitely enough. We currently live in a 3 bedroom semi attached house, and while we love it, we could perfectly live in just the base floor if the bedroom was down here. That is including our entire extension/dining room is a huge office. This is a must for us, the office. We work from home, and have 3 screen setups. We have all this on a full sized board table (2440x1220mm). We are happier to have a tiny main bedroom, but a massive office instead. Linked with the previous, we are looking at a less UK standard house. We are European, and while we love our current UK traditional house, we prefer another style. More northern, modern. Here come the wishes: We have been looking at pre-fab houses, and realised they are really cheap. £25k-£75k we should be able to perfectly find something that suits us. With that in mind we thought: "That's actually cheap for a house! How cheap can we get a plot?" And looking a bit, we started seeing plots that ranged a LOT in price. From £10k-£20k all the way to £100k+. This idea of a base camp makes sense for us if we think of aiming at a total cost of around £100k. With some margin. Up to £130k I'd say. Now you might say (what my mum said to the plan) "Well you're not getting a house for that price". Ok... We just want a tiny dog house. Really, don't think based on normal standards. We could definitely live in just our garden space. Think of a container house. You don't need lots of meters for that plot. Can't we get that plot type for up to £30-£70k? That's our mind picture. Is this feasible somehow? We are not in a rush. But we wouldn't like to leave it for a year either. We have been looking at plots at Zoopla, but as I mentioned earlier, we are extreme newbies. They don't teach this in school. We don't know what to look for in a plot. For example, one of the latest I found was this one. In Reading, 1h from London, between 2 houses. Super well connected, perfectly residential area, seems large enough for our case... No idea what's wrong with it for £10k really. Sure, it's an auction, not final price, but... idk. Maybe? What am I missing? We don't know if we need to ask for a mortgage before or after. Or how a self build mortgage (or any mortgage) works at all, or what good rates are. I'm financially literate though, just not familiar with mortgages. (Worried about this as we are both directors of our own LTD. Salaries are set arbitrarily low for tax purposes, and we get paid in dividends. Not sure if that's easily accepted.) We don't know what the process looks like. In my mind it looks like this. Find plot. Find lender and ask for mortgage. Buy plot. Find ??? that checks with Council (?) that you can build what you want in there. Wait until Council approves. Find ??? that designs/plans what you want to build. (If it's the pre fab I guess they directly do this). Pay. Wait for it and oversee every tiny detail as I want it perfect (and the contractors we've had in the UK so far haven't left great impressions). As you can see, no idea of the agents involved in the process, or even their names. Please correct me as much as needed, this is what I came here for. One thing I know I did right. I already opened a LISA for me and my partner and maxed contributions. And I think this is basically it! Being migrants in the UK, we don't have a large acquaintance circle here, and the ones we have are young. So we don't have who to ask for advice on all these processes really. That's why I went to look for an online community and start learning from kind strangers. And here I am! Thank you so much for sticking by this huge wall of text, and I will be super grateful for any help or guide or anything you can share that helps me step forward even just a bit.
  6. Hi nice to meet everyone. I am just starting out on my journey and looking to attempt a class Q conversion. I have done a LOT of research into the matter and consulted 2 planners and although I accept their advice I am struggling with their recommendation. Currently I have a large barn built with part steel frame, blockwork full height on both end, half height down the sides, with a tin roof. Next to this approx 1mtr away is an open fronted lambing shed which is part blockwork, half height walls and a couple of steel supports. Their advice is to only go for class Q on the larger building for reasons such as "not enough structure in the smaller building" or "it may complicate things". My problem is that I need the additional space. The barn by itself does not have enough space to make a home for us as we have 2 kids and I also need a small bedsit space for my mother.Their advice is to get class Q initially on the main barn and then submit for planning to extend and include the smaller shed. Does this sound like the best coarse of action in your opinion ? I am a pretty open and honest guy and this seems somewhat underhanded and I'm conscious it mate get the local authorities back up. Though I'm told it won't and " that's just how it's done".. Any advice on the above is really appreciated. But with the assumption this is the only way forward... Next steps Firstly I am going to file a pre-apps which I understand is approx £200 and includes a site visit. The smaller barn is currently being used to house stuff that would generally be in a garage and this building has half its roof missing and in need of repair. The larger building has a tractor and other agricultural stuff in. Is there anything I should do or be aware of saying either before or when this happens? Should I say I want this smaller barn to be a garage ? Should I agree to knock it down ? I just want to ensure I am in a position to answer appropriately when needed. Also regarding proving it was in use agriculturally for the past 10 years ? Will I actually need to do this ? I naught the house 4 years ago and on the sale photos it shows a combine and straw in the barn and the seller told me it's been there for the past 6 years or so.. will they track him down and confirm this ? Or do I need to ? Thanks for any advice and I have a ton more questions including (roofing, solar, self drilling a borehole, self drawing architect designs) to which I will raise in appropriate catagories. Regards Neil
  7. Hi all, Hoping I could share some more detailed info of the project we're just embarking on and also request for some general self build advice from more experienced individuals. We're a couple in our late-twenties and have finally got into a position to undertake a self-build. The project is a Paragraph 79 approval in the Lincolnshire Wolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The goal is to reinstate the historical context of our site; where a malthouse was once present in the 18th century. The overall footprint is approx 400sqm and we are adopting passivhaus principals and eco technologies (PV, ASHP, UFH, Battery Store). There is no mains gas/drains and so we'll be using a sewage treatment plant. We've thought about other technology such as rainwater harvesting, but are thus far unconvinced. Enjoying reading through all the posts on here already - it's great to hear people recommending products, suppliers and also sharing DIY tips. I'll be project managing the entire build myself with everything already budgeted. The aim is to 'simplify' getting the build to watertight stage by minimising the amount of companies and trades involved; groundworkers for foundation, package timber frame company for the superstructure, window & door supplier and roofing contractor. - Not awarded any tenders as yet, so any recommendations for all aspects would be appreciated. Our thought process is that once it is watertight, we can (somewhat) move in and tackle the rooms one by one with individual trades and DIY. For anyone on Instagram, we've started to keep a diary of progress - https://www.instagram.com/thefoxesmaltings/ As a newbie self-builder, I've read 'The Housebuilders Bible', by Mark Brinkley, which I found fairly informative, particularly when it comes to the foundations and superstructure; of which we have no hands on experience with. Aside from that, I'm generally pretty hands on with experience in renovating. In addition to this, I'm looking for recommendations on accompanying books, resources and any individual pieces of advice which you think would help, and perhaps you wish you knew before starting your self build? Hopefully this doesn't sound like one of those Grand Designs episodes... Thanks. G
  8. Hello, I am trying to find more information on how to go about building my own home. Online research has given me various different requirements and I'd like to know more about the specific process, ie the order of doing things and realistic expectations. I have been looking at land plots but I'm unsure of how I should get started. I live in SW Scotland and plan to build here. I'm not very clued up on the process as everything I've found online is geared towards England or they don't match the advice I've read elsewhere. Thank you in advance.
  9. Hello Everyone, I am completely new to forums so will make mistakes there for sure. Its taken me ages just to get to this bit. I am a stained glass artist, been making windows for ages and more recently glass art with concrete, so I am happy with that side of buildings. I am about to self build a new studio for myself and need to learn what to do. I have had ridiculous quotes from builders for over 30k so there has to be a cheaper alternative. Luckily for me I found this site and am looking forward to reading all the advice you have to offer.
  10. Hey everyone - pleased to be involved in this fantastic forum. We are building a house in Somerset and are tantalisingly close to being able to lay carpets but still need to finish bits like the kitchen and bathrooms off etc. My question is regarding VAT (the VAT office phone line as others have reported is not working). [Moderator: The VAT question has been moved here] On a side note - can anyone recommend an insurance company who will insure the property with us living in it before it is building control completed but has gas and electric signed off? I really appreciate any replies that can help us. As ever, the government don’t make it easy!
  11. Hi all, It's never a smooth ride with this self build stuff is it, I've been to site today and there has been a bit of a cock up somewhere and now one window goes all most all the way to the ceiling. I'm trying to work out what went wrong as it was suppose to have 15cm between the window and the ceiling. However it is what it is and does anyone have any ideas on how I can make this look good? Hanging a curtain pole will be impossible, I wasn't specing blinds throughout either. ARGH! https://photos.app.goo.gl/iaqhVXfhmu6JDPiW8 It isn't possible to move the window head lower, it needs to be the level it is. Lifting the ceiling up I think will be very expensive, the first fix has been done and there is a room in the loft. Thanks all
  12. Hi everyone, we are finally at the other side of thee new build. Just outside work all to do now. I'm hoping to start kerbing and drains and piers for gates. I have now idea for lights outside but should all these cables go in now and cables in peirs for lights and electric gates if wanted in future. I've recorded some of my build in the process of you would like to have a look. https://youtu.be/jV3obOS2JTg
  13. Hello, I have just found this forum, too late for many of my questions as we finished our self build last year. It would have been so useful. It will however be great to chat with others on their own self build journey and get advice on the items we still need to tick off...what has been a very long list over the past few years.
  14. Hello, SoI’ve been dreaming up a small home on a small plot. Sadly the neighbour has encroached to prevent (its a complicated story) but they have essentially pinned my little garage in and taken 2 feet of my land and is essentially attempting to force a sale. ...for now I need to repair the garage before everything in in is ruined. What can I do without planning permission for now until I have resolved the boundary situation? This is a case of someone with money taking of advantage of someone without....very frustrating! Please help. Thanks, Micc
  15. Not sure if it’s ridiculous to consider solid walls for a new build. I have done a lot of googling on the subject, it seems you can get a decent U value without the wall being too thick, some suggesting even thinner than would be required with cavity walls! Im considering it because there is a flood risk, and I believe solid walls are preferable in this situation, water in the cavity wouldn’t be pleasant even if I chose closed cell insulation. Other positives could be, depending on route chosen, dense block work could be a great sound barrier, or it opens up the possibility of more interesting brick bonds. Have double the bricks would be pretty expensive though. I can’t work out if condensation is a risk, some people say it is a risk with solid walls, others think cavity wall insulation will be the next ppi for its damp risks.. That brings me on to the next thing internal or external wall insulation, it seems external is preferable, however internal offers the chance to have more interesting brick work. In my mind I think external would be more effective, however with external surely you will lose a lot of energy heating the dense blocks? You wouldn’t have this with internal insulation. Hmmm. Going around in circles with this one!
  16. Hi all. I'm a reasonably competent DIYer around the house and have now got it in my head that I can self build a large combined garden room and shed at the end of the garden. I can work through most problems and am researching the hell out of it before I commit so am pretty confident I can do this ?. Lots of interesting threads on here around related topics so looking forward to tapping into the collective.
  17. Good morning to Y’all. Newbie here about to start a self build in Suffolk and stumbled across this group. Looks good. Will probably have a number of questions to ask in due course but reading all your Q&A’s is pretty helpful too.
  18. Hello all, First Post!! My girlfriend and I have our properties on the market, with the mortgage in principle and our equity we are looking at a sum of £600k very max. with almost 50% deposit. I have found a beautiful 6 acre plot in a rural location. It has a basic structure (an old small barn) which is being used as present accommodation for the current owners and it has all utilities. I must emphasise this is very basic and small but could do for a year! The plot has PP and the footings are complete. I don’t fully agree with the house design that was submitted, but the foot print is suitable, it’s just the first floor we want to change. This is such a beautiful spot and I would love to grab it! However the plot is funnily enough £600k! I even have my doubts the bank will agree to this for the mortgage in principle. Does anyone have any experience with this? Also.. we need money to build the house, maybe another 350k… I am in no doubt that once complete, with properties to compare with in the area, we would be looking at a final property of between 1.5 - 2 million. This is for our forever home though and we are not looking to profit from the development. How on earth can we source the additional funding? Parents can’t help, are there some sorts of loans instead of a mortgage that would allow for the final build and then…?! I have no experience at this! I have a reasonable salary and my GF has an ok salary, the amount we could borrow with mortgage in principle was the most for our salaries combined. I have about £70k in shares, but am not willing to sell due to the hammering they have had this year, if I wait a couple of years I’m hoping they will be double if not more once they have recovered. So my shares are a no go at the moment. We just have no more equity.. Is it possible, or are we dreaming?
  19. Hi there we started building our house back in the Autumn, was our old Silage shed. Been a rollercoaster with planning, getting builders on site then the wet/windy Winter. Demolished the surrounding buildings last Summer/Autumn. Stripped the old roof very little photographic evidence of that!?? Then when the weather allowed fitted the roof again by ourselves, builders arrived Nov/Dec and been on sight on and off. I’m doing as much as I can alongside them groundwork’s, steel cleaning and painting, outside cladding... Electricians on 1st fix, which leads me to this site, need some MVHR help, so will be posting a separate thread on that. Lee Here’s some pics and our Instagram page. https://instagram.com/devon_barn_conversion?r=nametag https://www.instagram.com/invites/contact/?i=1xwabykomp0t4&utm_content=b9tjlhg
  20. Hi; new to the hub and my first post. we are buying a plot of land to put a new house on; we will project manage only - not getting involved in the actual build. The hope is to then sell - at a profit. Our understanding is that VAT reclaim is only for a self build you intend on living in - so our costs would increase substantially. First question is whether contractors would still zero rate their invoices - so it's not quite as bad as it could be? but is there a better way to set up - ie start up a VAT registered Ltd co; in which case could we reclaim VAT and the end supply (sale of house) remains zero rated. anyone with experience to suggest the optimal route please?
  21. Morning, I've been quoted £1,000 per square meter to take the build to up to and including 1st fix, the price excludes the cost of windows and doors. The costs coming from builders is around £2,200 for a complete turnkey project. Does the cost to first fix sound about right? Architect says £1,800 per square meter should be possible. Cheers
  22. Hi all, In order to keep costs down I am thinking about having a main contractor complete the build up to 1st fix and then completing the second fix onwards my myself. I've no construction experience but I'm okay at DIY, fitted bathroom, kitchen etc. Any thoughts on how this could play out?
  23. Hi all. I embarking on my first self build next month. We have a budget set for electrical work, lights and switches of £10k (200m2 flat roof bungalow). I'd like to try and future proof the build so I can install CCTV, network servers, home automation etc at a later date. What should I be asking my electrician to install now. Just a load of CAT 6/7 cabling into the main rooms (remembering their exact locations) and then terminate into a singe location where the servers will reside? Any help or experiences greatly received. Cheers
  24. hi I am sue. My sister and I are planning to convert her large house into 3 flats so as to sell two, pay off her mortgage and for her to live in the third. She has claimed and received a self build exemption for one flat but my research suggests she will not be able to supply any of the 3 forms of evidence required at the end of the self build ( vat letter, self build warranty or self build mortgage) as none of those seem to be available for conversion of a house into 3 flats... has anyone had any experience with this? The Cil is about £20,000 and is making us think twice about whether the project is viable.... love to hear from anyone as this self build exemption looks like a nightmare. thanks sue
  25. I seem incapable of fiddling and completely revising designs. I've quickly knocked this up, I think it has potential, but its not quite there. Love the contrast of dark grey and white, but I fear with such a large about of "dark" it could become over powering. Any thoughts, feedback is hugely appreciated
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