Best Self-Build Resources in 2024
Embarking on your first self build journey can be daunting. Ensuring that you conduct thorough research is fundamental to the success of your build.
For any prospective self-builder, knowledge is power. Therefore it is important that you know where to look for the most valuable advice and resources.
Over the last ten years, the ACA team has made it their mission to educate self-builders. We have completed over 480 projects and know what the important resources are and what should take priority at the start of your journey.
Starting a self-build journey requires a lot of dedication, and it is fundamental to the success of the build that clients do their research. Without an investment in quality information, you could make poor decisions or miss out on easier, more cost-effective solutions.
In this article, we will cover the top 7 resources we believe will help you and your project, including –
- Self-build shows
- Visit the NSBRC
- Attend a seminar or course
- Read a self-build book
- Subscribe to a magazine
- Listen to a podcast
- Read online resources (blogs and eBooks)
Self Build Shows
The self-build shows provide an excellent value-for-money resource and are located throughout the UK, providing a variety of speakers and companies to engage with. There are many shows to choose from- Grand Designs Live, Build It Live! and the Homebuilding and Renovating Show.
ACA are privileged to have their Managing Director, Allan Corfield, as a key speaker throughout all of the Homebuilding and Renovating Shows. ACA also have a stand at the Birmingham, London & Glasgow show, so you can have the opportunity to speak directly to the ACA and ACS team. Tickets for these shows can be found by clicking on the link here.
Many of the shows take place over a weekend, and it’s really worth making an effort to go for the duration. You can spend a day listening to the fantastic talks and seminars, then another speaking to the exhibitors – from kit builders, window suppliers and even Smart Home Automation specialists. The Self Build shows cover all areas in the UK, so have a look through these to find your nearest one:
National Self-Build & Renovation Centre
The National Self-Build & Renovation Centre is based in Swindon and is the only permanent centre providing support and advice to those embarking on the self-build journey……… and it’s free!
The centre benefits from having several full-sized houses and interactive zones that can support you through each stage of a build.
There is also an expert helpdesk where you can speak to dedicated professionals and suppliers.
“The National Self Build and Renovation Centre is a must-visit resource, supporting self builders and renovators through their projects. At the NSBRC, we believe that people deserve better homes – better designed, better built, and more sustainable, and our impartial visitor centre exists to help those very people. With a mix of educational cross-sections of life-sized parts of buildings, fully built showhouses, over 200 permanent exhibition stands and more, there is so much that a project owner will gain from a visit to this free resource. – Gareth Nicholas”
ACA also benefit from having a stand (Stand 63) and permanent staff based at the centre. They can offer you support and advice as well as help you to network with multiple suppliers based in the centre.
Our team at the NSBRC can also offer clients the opportunity to bring their self-build dream to life through the use of our Virtual Reality system.
The centre also offers self-build workshops where you can learn about the various stages of self-build and explore the finer details of a build, such as internal finishes.
The courses can support anyone new to self-build on how to manage a project, find a plot and manage finances, as well as support those embarking on a renovation project.
Book a place on one of the courses or workshops today here.
Seminars & Courses
The team at ACA also provide self-build seminars. ‘How to Self Build successfully’ seminars take place at the National Self Build & Renovation Centre in Swindon and are hosted by industry expert Allan Corfield. The events focus on educating visitors on all of the key areas of the Self Build journey.
“Researching everything in your Self Build project is key; you, as the Self Builder, must take the project lead. This is, after all, your home you are building – so no one else will care as much as you do. Going to seminars, researching online, and surrounding yourself with the right people will be invaluable to the success of your Self Build.
Making sure you obtain recent testimonials on everyone you propose to work with will ensure you get the right people in your team. Also, make sure you enquire about the times when things went wrong; finding out how problems were dealt with is often the most important of details. Challenges will arise – no matter how well you plan your Self Build! “
We are currently registering interested parties (see form below) for our next seminar, which is scheduled for Friday, 26th April. The other dates for 2023 are as follows: 13th July and 29th November.
These seminars are held in person in the Build It Theatre at the NSBRC and cost £40 to attend. Money well spent due to the amount of knowledge and information you will gain from experts in the self-build industry.
Build It Live also offers seminars for self-build. These run throughout the shows in February, June and September. These seminars are run as part of the shows and are free to attend. The cost of a ticket for the shows starts at £12.
When attending these seminars, you should expect to gain knowledge on the following:
- Setting budgets and finding a plot.
- Designing your dream home.
- Constructing methods (timber frame, ICF, SIPS)
- Managing your project
- How to get planning permission.
- Energy Efficient builds.
With the Self Build industry constantly developing, only a handful of relevant books are worth considering.
The UK’s best-selling Self Build guide is Mark Brinkley’s Housebuilder’s Bible, which is now in its thirtieth edition. Whether or not this is your first Self Build project, the Bible takes you step-by-step through the Self Build process – highlighting the potential problems and how to avoid them.
From project management to employing professionals and evaluating land – Brinkley takes the processes familiar to the trades and makes them familiar to the rookie self-builder. His style is extremely readable, and all the information is current – including the Self Build cost tables for calculating a budget. Mark’s expert advice will go a long way over the course of your project – Housebuilder’s Bible is a must-read!
Another book comes from the UK’s Self Build Champion, Kevin McCloud. His book, Grand Designs Handbook: The Blueprint for Building Your Own Home, explores beyond the Self Build homes featured on McCloud’s television programme of the same name. This book is packed with answers to the bigger questions about design and architecture and is a good read for inspiration from one of the UK’s foremost Self Build experts.
Your Own Home explores beyond the Self Build homes featured on McCloud’s television programme of the same name. This book is packed with answers to the bigger questions about design and architecture and is a good read for inspiration from one of the UK’s foremost Self Build experts.
Released in late 2015, The Self-Builders Guide to Project Management by Vince Holden offers practical advice taken from over 40 years of construction experience. This book highlights the main principles and methods of practical construction project management.
It’s written from the constructor’s point of view. It contains a lot of helpful advice, which should help familiarise you with construction management fundamentals and provide you with the everyday knowledge required to manage your Self Build professionally. The Self-Builders Guide to Project Management explains the process stage by stage and can really help you keep your dream home on track.
One of the trickier parts for prospective Self Builders is getting to grips with the UK Planning Regulations. Many have tried and failed to acquire Planning Permission – however – Roy Speer and Mike Dade can help ensure that your dreams of Self Build success aren’t destroyed at the design stage. Complete Planning Permission: How To Get It; Stop It or Alter It is a great step-by-step guide to the application process and teaches you the best strategies for ensuring your Self Build gets up and running. Planning Permission is a difficult and sometimes controversial topic, but this comprehensive guide will see that you teach yourself the ins and outs of planning law and get your project underway.
With a great selection of Self Build magazines available, subscribing to a couple can be really beneficial. Magazines such as Homebuilding & Renovating cover all bases – from ‘How to…’ articles to the latest design trends. One of the greatest advantages of a magazine subscription is the fact that the information is very current; the issues are right up to date.
You’ll find case studies from previous Self Builders – highlighting issues with costs, design, energy efficiency and planning permission. On top of this, there are lots of tips from professionals across the industry, as well as interviews with some of the most experienced Self Build experts.
Many magazines look in further detail at the Self Build stories across the UK, and it can be a great way of finding a design style you like or the type of plot you might want to find. See below for a selection of the UK’s most popular Self Build magazines:
- Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine
- Real Homes Magazine
- Build It incorporating Self Build and Design
- Grand Designs Magazine
- Homes & Gardens
- Ideal Home
- House Beautiful
- I-build Magazine
- House & Garden
- Period Living
ACA’s in-house self-build expert, Allan Corfield, has the pleasure of writing for Homebuilding and Renovating Magazine. Look out for his Behind the Design series and more in-depth case study reviews.
Dedicating some of your spare time to reading informative and inspirational articles will really help you become a better self-builder. All the magazines add value and are worth every penny of the reasonable subscription costs!
For those who have a busy pace of life but are also keen to engage in self-build research, podcasts can be highly effective. They provide an excellent on-the-go resource!
Some of the podcasts that we would suggest that you listen to are:
- Build Your House Yourself University Podcast
- Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine Podcast
- The Fine Homebuilding Podcast
- Home Building Hero Podcast
ACA have also had the pleasure of being invited along to be a guest expert speaker on the following podcast:
ACA has produced a fantastic eBook that provides information to help you fully understand what a self-build project entails and what the benefits of a self-build are.
Our eBook provides further information on the following areas of self build:
· Self Build Resources
· Purchasing land
· Finance & Budgeting
· Timescales & Programming
· Choosing the Right team
· Case Studies
· Construction Styles
· Fabric First Approach
· Heating Strategy & Renewables
Another valuable resources to source up-to-date information about self-build are blogs and articles.
Blogs often help the reader to learn something new or discover new trends within an industry.
- Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine blog
- Build It Magazine blog
- Self Build Zone
- AC Architects Self Build blog
If you would like more information on the resources above, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via the contact button, or alternatively, leave your queries in the comments section below.
We hope that you have enjoyed our best self-build resource article. We appreciate that this may have created even more questions. If this is the case, then feel free to get in touch, or if you are ready to start your project, then book one of our online self-build consultations – book here.