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What is Self Build?

[dt_quote type=”blockquote” font_size=”big” animation=”none” background=”plain”]Many of us dream about creating our own home, made exactly as we want it with all the features we require, to the dimension we love.  But more and more people are making that dream a reality and more than that, are actually getting involved in the work themselves to different degrees.  This is what is known as a self-build house.[/dt_quote]

What being a self-builder means

If the idea of being the person doing to the actual building fills you with terror, then don’t worry – the idea of self-build doesn’t always mean you do the building yourself.  In fact, there are lots of different self-build options, ranging from self-build properties to a self build extension kit and all involve different degrees of workmen interaction.

Around one third of people who undertake a self-build project act a project manager rather than the builder.  This means that the use contractors to do the work but oversee the job and sometimes do certain tasks within the project in varying amounts depending on their abilities and expertise.  

Some 13% of self-builders have contractors to do the building work and only do decorating themselves, something that many of us do.  And a small amount even use a ‘turnkey’ home system where a company builds and finishes the home based on designs or specifications that you provide to them.

What being a project manager means

As a project manager for your own self-build project, then you will be the one making the decisions.  The process normally involves finding and purchasing the building plot then finding the contractors to do the work.  As a project manager, your jobs will include overseeing the contractors doing the work, drawing up the schedules of what should be done when and managing the workforce to get the work done on time.  It will also involve creating and managing the budget and materials.

Other self-builders find themselves appointing a project manage to handle the day to day work while being the ultimate oversight for the project.  This allows them to have the final word on materials, contractors and designs, without needing to be present for every step in the process – often favoured by people working full time who can’t dedicate the time for the project.

Extending your home

Typically, people think that self-build projects are about building a house from scratch but this isn’t the case.  Technically, self-build refers to any project that you undertake yourself or oversee yourself so this can be an extension to your home or even an internal remodelling or restructuring.

One of the easier ways to embark on a self-build extension is to make use of a self-build extension kit.  This saves a lot of trouble around sourcing materials and allows you to select the extension that suits your home and your budget.  Then all you need to do is either find the right tradesmen to carry out the extension or undertake it yourself if you have the skills needed.

Planning self

Self build planning

Whether you are building an entire house from scratch or adding an extension to your existing home, there is planning permission required to ensure the project is correct and legal.  Planning permission is obtained through the local authority and can often be done partially through their website.  

Most councils use a pre-planning system that allows you to test your plans before submitting the application to ensure everything is acceptable.  But this isn’t compulsory and you can do straight into the planning permission process.

Planning permission is a complicated system and sometimes seeking assistance can be a good idea.  It is also important to keep the detail simple yet comprehensive – tell them everything they need to know but don’t embellish it.  Fill in everything on the form, even if it seems somehow irrelevant to the project as missing information can slow down the process.  You will also need to show details of certificates of ownership and notice to owners for shared areas such as shared access driveways.


Building your own home or adding an extension to the property is the ultimate way to get exactly what you want – although always within the building regulations.  And while the idea might seem intimidating, there are many different degrees of self-build that allow you to take on as much of the project as suits your time and abilities.