Top Tips for a Self-Build Home

I’ve long been a fan of tv programmes like Grand Designs and George Clarke’s various series covering the incredible self build projects undertaken in the UK every year. They inspire me. They fill me with ideas for my own next project, and I’m constantly in awe of people’s creativity, tenacity and bravery. Could I live in a caravan for a couple of years whilst my dream home was under construction? I’m not sure I could, would you?

Are you planning a major house renovation or even a self build project next year? Now's the time to start researching and planning for the work, and this has some great top tips for getting started on your self build home. But, self building is often the way to go when you want to create the perfect home; the one that’s perfect just for you. A few years ago I looked at a house similar to ours with a view to buying it. A lot of development work had already been undertaken with a loft and basement conversion that ours didn’t have. We could have moved, lived just around the corner and had a bigger home without the mess and fuss of getting the work done. The layout wasn’t great though, and it didn’t have a few design elements that I would have definitely wanted. So we stayed put and did our own loft conversion that works for us and our family. I’m so glad that we did. We’ve created a space that we truly love, changed the way we live, and improved our home – the one where we’ve made so many memories. If we had moved, we would have be sacrificing that, and compromising a lot.

My point is, sometimes you need to be brave, and not settle for second best because the journey is too arduous. Take the time and trouble to research how and why you could or should build your own home if you can’t find what you want with the estate agents.

To help you on your way, here are some of my top tips for starting out on your self build project, and what you should consider.

Beautiful home

Choose Your Location:

Might be easier said than done because you’re going to need a plot of land on which to build. Look out for derelict houses, which could be rebuilt easily, but this is one part of your journey that might take some time, so if a self-build home is your dream, always keep looking for the location.


Choose a good architect or team. That goes without saying I guess but many people cut corners on this part and you really shouldn’t. Get recommendations, check out a portfolio and go and physically look at their designs. What do you love about them? Can they bring your dream to a reality? Don’t compromise on this part. If you want to give it a go yourself, you might find this guide to designing your own house useful.


How are you going to finance your project? If you need a mortgage, talk to the bank and see what they will lend you. Can you raise some of the capital yourself? Remember it’s quite likely you’ll exceed your budget – you have watched Grand Designs right?


Speaking of budget, make one and stick to it. Where you can. There’s always something unexpected that comes along, so ensure you have a contingency plan, or a slush fund that you can call on when an emergency arises (or for when a cheaper light fighting just won’t do.) Check out this self build cost calculator for help.


Get some, you’re going to need it. Many self-builders are now making sure they have latent defects insurance, the type that protects you many years down the line when a design or construction decision causes major issues. You won’t always think it’s necessary but this can really hurt you later so definitely make it a priority.

For more information and lots more tips do check out the self build portal HERE and get in touch if you’re planning a self build; I would love to feature your project on the blog and follow your journey.

Would you consider a self-build home? I can see it being great fun (albeit stressful) and the perfect way to achieve the complete home of your dreams.

Image: Contemporary home via Shutterstock

Collaborative post

Jen Stanbrook
Jen Stanbrook

Jen is an interiors writer and blogger and has an insatiable love of home style and decor

Find me on: Web


  1. susanna
    January 3, 2017 / 9:02 am

    A good friend of mine just finished a huge self build project and could have used these tips! It took her almost 10 years from start to finish. xx

    • Jen Stanbrook
      January 3, 2017 / 5:47 pm

      Thanks Susanna, wow that’s quite some project x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.