hbooth

Complete Newbie to self build

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Hello all,

 

I am a complete newbie to self building, however we are in the process of purchasing some land in Lincolnshire with a view to building a 200 sqm, 4 bed detcahed house with single integral garage. Like I said the land purchase is progressing, I have taken the gamble to instruct an architect to get some initial plans drawn up so hopefully when the purchase completes we'll be in a position to submit the planning application. The plot already has outline planning and there are a few other houses already built on adjacent plots so hopefully planning will get passed off. The one big thing for me is costs. I find it so vague trying to forecast the cost of the build and it's currently a concern that we will not have enough money to complete the build. If anyone has any tips or advice it's more than welcome. Anyways this isn't meant to be laiden with questions it's just a quick intro from me.

 

I hope everyone is safe and well and I look forward to hearing from you.

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Welcome.

Lots of posts on BH covering the same issue. Have a look at the Costings part of the site.

 

Quick guess,  multiply your floor area by between 800 if you are very experienced and 2500 if you like me haven't a clue. That'll give you a very rough range.  Pick your target from within that range.

Our architect told us that we should expect to pay 1500 per square meter. I haven't checked recently,  I think we've overshot by a bit after 5 years of slog.

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Welcome.

Start researching different construction types, brick, block, timber frame, SIP, ICF, rammed earth even.

Then decide what you can do yourself. Then decide what you can do without.

Sack architect, they will spend all your contingency, and more.

You don't need much more than a sketch to get planning.

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It’s very difficult at the moment with materials nearly doubling over the last couple of months 

Plus one with Steamy regarding Architecht 

and also a very good point made about choosing your contribution method 

If you are looking for speed Look no further than TF But TF kits are costly Traditional will come in quite a bit cheaper 

But take longer to get to watertight 

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I'm new to self-build myself but a fair bit further on from you.

 

My own experience re the architect has been very positive and I can only imagine the mess I would be in now without him to be honest. I'm sure going it alone for some is the right thing to do, but I certainly do not have the confidence to do that. Our architect has been brilliant to deal with in all regards and comes in at a total of £3500. I'm more than happy with that and guess like many thinks it's different strokes for different folks.

 

As far as build costs, you could ask 10 people and get 10 different answers in my opinion. It depends on the complexity and design of your build, whether you're simply going to pay a builder to do it for you or project manage and become the main contractor yourself. Plus, material costs are increasing massively at the moment but there is talk that might start to correct by the end of the year. Whatever, sounds like you're past the point of no return, try to keep your design simple and try not to spend more than you need to while targeting a quality of build that you will be happy with - that's what I'm doing. The Builders Bible has some good advice re construction costs and how design can affect them. 

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Thanks for all the replies. I think I'm with Matt60 on the Architect. For the time being she has only be instructed to develop the initial plan and submit for planning permission. What we do from there we'll see. She does offer the building regulations compliance drawings too and I though that was something that we needed and will enable us to get a full costing for the build so I was thinking to get them done too. To be honest I don;t think we'll be starting to build much before the end of the year so hopefully materials will drop in price by then. The plan is to build using traditional brick and block mainly because of cost. I know timer frame is more expensive and do timber frame companies offer bespoke framing? I though they are almost like buying a flat pack house and only come in certain designs. The plan is to try and keep costs as low as possible but I know my limits as to what I can do. I can't do the ground works, or the block work or the floors and roof. I could do most of the internal things, given enough time, although eletcrics will need a professional to get past building regs. At the momemt I am trying to read and research as much as possible as I would like the build to progress as quickly as possible once we start.

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good call brick and block, save a considerable amount over the sheds. £1500 /m2 is about right more depending on how expensive you make the 2nd fix.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Dave, thanks. I'm aiming for less than £1500/m2. The plan is to install all bathrooms, kitchen, flooring etc myself and only aiming for cheap sockets, switches and ceiling roses for now. The plan being as our pot of cash replnishes change the cheap stuff as needed. We plan to live in this house for a long time so there will be plenty of time to finish it all off. The main thing I need is to get to a point where we can move in (even if all interior is not finished) and a where my warranty provider will sign off so we can then switch mortgage to get a residential rather than self build.

 

I'm also hoping that my architect will earn her money buy designing the hosue with our low budget in mind so we can save on expensive steels etc through clever design and load positioning.

Edited by hbooth

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“Sack architect, they will spend all your contingency, and more.”

Lol.

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In all seriousness - a good architect will save you money in the long run by designing you a home that is cost effective to build, run and maintain.

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1 hour ago, ETC said:

In all seriousness - a good architect will save you money in the long run by designing you a home that is cost effective to build, run and maintain.

ETC that's what I am hoping for. I only hope my selected architect delivers what I am expecting.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, ETC said:

In all seriousness - a good architect will save you money in the long run by designing you a home that is cost effective to build, run and maintain.

 

I'd be interesting in hearing views from those on here who have found this to be the case.

 

We've certainly heard a number of cases where what the architect designed turned out to exceed their clients stated budget, sometimes significantly.

Edited by AliMcLeod

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On 24/05/2021 at 15:55, SteamyTea said:

Welcome.

Start researching different construction types, brick, block, timber frame, SIP, ICF, rammed earth even.

Then decide what you can do yourself. Then decide what you can do without.

Sack architect, they will spend all your contingency, and more.

You don't need much more than a sketch to get planning.

 

brick and block is what the builders will know. I kind of agree with the sentiment on the architect, a project manager would be better.

 

Problem will be getting labour, if you find a builder who can start in under 6 months be VERY VERY wary. Go and see his last two jobs.

 

 

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4 hours ago, hbooth said:

She does offer the building regulations compliance drawings too and I though that was something that we needed and will enable us to get a full costing for the build so I was thinking to get them done too.

 

Many TF companies will produce detailed drawings that will satisfy BC as part of the package, they will also produce their frame designs from your planning drawings, you do not need to buy 'off plan'.

 

TF can also be clad with any exterior from render to wood to brick or stone skins. For the novice, they do bring a lot of benefit in relation to speed of erection and, depending on the supplier, a foundations package, roof felting & battening, full air/water tightness and internal room framing - even temp stairs so you can move straight to first fix once the windows are in and roof is on.

 

We took that approach and it meant we did not need to employ a 'general builder' but acted as project managers which really meant organising the groundworks package from one contractor, the frame from another and the rest were standalone trades/contractors/suppliers (roofing, windows, render, electrics, plumbing, plastering, tiling, decorating, joinery etc etc). Also meant windows could be ordered well in advance off plan and be installed as soon as the walls were erected.

 

These benefits come at a cost though and 'traditional' wet trades may well be cheaper  - lots of variables such as are you living on site or in rented accommodation during the build etc.

 

ICF is becoming a popular 'DIY' method where you position the formwork blocks and the concrete gets pumped by specialists.

 

4 hours ago, hbooth said:

 I know timer frame is more expensive and do timber frame companies offer bespoke framing? I though they are almost like buying a flat pack house and only come in certain designs.

 

 

Yes they do, some firms will only offer pre-designed kits but most will build whatever your architect has designed (within reason).

 

4 hours ago, hbooth said:

At the momemt I am trying to read and research as much as possible as I would like the build to progress as quickly as possible once we start.

 

In which case DIY is probably not the best approach. We managed a demolish  / basement / timber frame (400m2 in total) in just over 12 months as complete novices and even then there were a few odd months when there was no-one on site and other months where we had lots of trades working around each other.

 

The builders bible describes the time-quality-cost triangle. You can have two at the expense of the other - i.e. to build fast and cheap compromises quality, to build quality at cost compromises time etc.

 

Remember that things like sockets etc will be a fraction of your final costs but you're right that you can upgrade them later but also remember that you'll be paying 20% VAT on that vs. 0% at build time.

 

 

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24 minutes ago, AliMcLeod said:

 

I'd be interesting in hearing views from those on here who have found this to be the case.

 

Our near passive build only costs a few quid to heat/run a day and will always have a low energy requirement as it's highly insulated & airtight. That higher spec was not that much more cost when taken across the whole project.

 

24 minutes ago, AliMcLeod said:

We've certainly heard a number of cases where what the architect designed turned out to exceed their clients stated budget, sometimes significantly.

 

Architects (hopefully) design buildings that will get permission to be built, meet the needs of the occupants and to a rough budget but they can have flights of fancy that are expensive (we have some pretty, rear bedroom balconies that were not cheap are are never used).

 

The cost per m2 is the best approach - take your build (as distinct from project) budget, divide by £2000/m2 and ask for a house that size. If you're confident that you can build for lower (or increase your budget) then ask for more.

 

Paying for professional project management services (architect or stand alone) will add to your costs and may keep you on budget and to the specified design but they rarely 'save' money.

 

Having a main contractor will give you some peace of mind and 'one throat to choke' but they will expect to make a margin on top of the build cost.

 

Taking this responsibility on yourself will save you that cost but you also introduce the risk of making mistakes so it all needs to be balanced out. 

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9 minutes ago, Bitpipe said:

The cost per m2 is the best approach - take your build (as distinct from project) budget, divide by £2000/m2 and ask for a house that size. If you're confident that you can build for lower (or increase your budget) then ask for more.

This is the best advice you've received in this thread in my opinion.  200m2 is generous for a four bed home (certainly by developer standards!) so if you haven't got £400k build budget then either look at a smaller build or find more money.  Cashflow is also something to look at as self-build funds are only released once certain stages are complete and you're also paying VAT on materials which you can only claim back upon completion. 

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, Phaedrus said:

This is the best advice you've received in this thread in my opinion.  200m2 is generous for a four bed home (certainly by developer standards!) so if you haven't got £400k build budget then either look at a smaller build or find more money.  Cashflow is also something to look at as self-build funds are only released once certain stages are complete and you're also paying VAT on materials which you can only claim back upon completion. 

 

Agreed, which feeds into my point. What percentage of architects, given a £300K budget from their client, with an ask for a 200m2 dwelling, would tell that client there's a good chance they cannot really afford that and are going to provide them with a 150m2 design?

Edited by AliMcLeod

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5 hours ago, ETC said:

n all seriousness - a good architect will save you money in the long run by designing you a home that is cost effective to build, run and maintain.

 

Unfortunately I don't think this is the case.

 

A good architect will design you a house that looks nice and gets planning permission. That is their main skillset.

 

Some know about designing for low running costs but not many.

 

Very few seem to consider buildability/build costs in their designs. Massive spans, lots of glass, bespoke features you cannot buy off the shelf etc.

 

They also will not liven the house and could have a very different idea how to layout a house relative to how you will use.

 

Don't be afraid to tell them what you are after and if they won't do that then look elsewhere.

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Our architect produced a great design but way over the original budget. To minimise cost keep it simple..

 

Avoid roof complications like dormer window or 1.5 storey houses with rooms in the roof. Stick to a 2 storey house with simple roof. Even making the house L shape adds a bit although how much is debatable.

 

Do you really need a chimney? A working chimney?

 

Avoid anything needing steel beams or posts if possible. (eg windows that wrap around the corner of a house). 

 

Architects tend to like charging a fixed % of the final build cost. Sometimes as much as 10%. So if you splurge on a kitchen just remember to add 10% for your architect who may not have had anything to do with the kitchen. Better still find a builder you trust so you dont need an architect involved during construction other than perhaps a few hours to sort out design problems that might come up.

 

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Posted (edited)

“Unfortunately I don't think this is the case.

 

A good architect will design you a house that looks nice and gets planning permission. That is their main skillset.

 

Some know about designing for low running costs but not many.

 

Very few seem to consider buildability/build costs in their designs. Massive spans, lots of glass, bespoke features you cannot buy off the shelf etc.

 

They also will not liven the house and could have a very different idea how to layout a house relative to how you will use.

 

Don't be afraid to tell them what you are after and if they won't do that then look elsewhere.”

 

I’m very sorry - but I do not agree.

 

A good architect will always design the home that you want not what they want. Their skill set is taking your requirements and turning it into a workable solution within a budget set by you.

 

Unfortunately this may not always be the case but you as the client should always drive the solution - you are after all paying his or her fees. I do agree that If an architect fails to come up with what you want you should tell him/her and revisit the design solution or look elsewhere.

Edited by ETC
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“Our architect produced a great design but way over the original budget. To minimise cost keep it simple..

 

Avoid roof complications like dormer window or 1.5 storey houses with rooms in the roof. Stick to a 2 storey house with simple roof. Even making the house L shape adds a bit although how much is debatable.

 

Do you really need a chimney? A working chimney?

 

Avoid anything needing steel beams or posts if possible. (eg windows that wrap around the corner of a house). 

 

Architects tend to like charging a fixed % of the final build cost. Sometimes as much as 10%. So if you splurge on a kitchen just remember to add 10% for your architect who may not have had anything to do with the kitchen. Better still find a builder you trust so you dont need an architect involved during construction other than perhaps a few hours to sort out design problems that might come up.”

 

I agree with most of this. Keep the design simple. Rectangle house plan with short floor spans and a trussed rafter roof with a slate roof. No steelwork (SE required), no great expanses of glass, no masonry chimneys (stove if required with Selkirk flue), no steps in internal floor level (tanking required), no basements and render painted external walls. Don’t skimp on the insulation - go above and beyond the requirements.

 

If you want to go with a timber frame talk to a timber frame supplier - they will do whatever you need and will design the wall panels and roof trusses based on the design you present to them. You need to balance the cost and erection speed of a timber frame with a traditional masonry build. Both have advantages and disadvantages which only you can decide upon.

 

In relation to architects fees - many do base this on a percentage cost of the build. Many others will be happy to agree a fixed cost fee based on providing a particular service to you. You are the only person to decide if you are getting value for money but you may wish to shop around. Many architects will be more than happy to have a chat with you about what you need, what they can provide and what the cost is likely to be.

 

My own suggestion would be to agree a fixed price fee - not one based on a (possibly fluctuating) build cost - for their services. The fee should include all expenses (excluding statutory fees) and a list of your requirements - a shopping list of what you want.

 

An architect should provide you with a written agreement of what you require including the fee to be charged.

 

Fees are a very emotive topic for many architects and can mean a certain amount of crystal ball gazing in relation to the amount of work they will have to do.

 

 

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17 minutes ago, ETC said:

Fees are a very emotive topic for many architects

Doesn't RICS have a a section on there website about what to expect and how payment should happen.

https://www.rics.org/uk/

 

The one Architect I now know gets charged extra if he wants milk in his tea, and charged even more if he does not want it.  Seems fair to me.

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Posted (edited)

The architect I deal with charges based on the expected build cost based on a standard cost and if you want a gold plated kitchen it doesn’t create any extra work for him so there is no extra charge.

 

I think that’s fair.

Edited by AliG
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Posted (edited)

Good points from all.

 

The geology of Lincolnshire is quite variable, some expensive to build on ground, great ground too and stuff in the middle. This is where you can get tripped up. Try and find out as much as possible about the ground as this could have a big influence on the design if you are on a tight budget. The other thing in Linconshire is flood risk.. have a read around this and see if this could throw up a design issue.

 

Have quick look here for an educational resource and if you feel able then provide more info on your site.

 

http://mapapps.bgs.ac.uk/geologyofbritain/home.html

 

In some ways you can get quite far managing the cost risk but if you don't spend a bit of time researching the ground then you always have that big elephant in the room that can stop you enjoying the journey as much as you could be.

 

It's often said that if you are building on the ground then what lies underneath often poses the biggest cost risk.

 

At the concept stage try and spread your research time so you cover all the elements of the build rather than focusing too much on say the choice between timber frame and masonry construction.

 

@hbooth

 

If your not sure about the geotechnics / ground then just post on BH and you'll get plenty help.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Gus Potter
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On 24/05/2021 at 14:57, hbooth said:

Hello all,

 

 

Your budget is tight, you have outline planning permission and you need 4 bedrooms in 200 sqm. If your plot is flat and not oddly shaped you could skip straight to an architectural technician who would create technical drawings ready to hand over to a builder, that is £10k to £20k saved before you start.

 

I know an affable and approachable architectural technician in Grimsby. Where are you building in Lincolnshire roughly?

 

BTW the prevailing forum culture here has a bit of a downer on architects as you might now be realizing.

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