What factors can stop or delay my self-build project?
Regardless of how much preparation you’ve done, it’s inevitable that you will come across some issues during your self-build. Many of these things will just be out of your control.
Undertaking any Self Build project can be daunting, especially if you don’t have any experience in the construction industry or managing large projects. Many first-time self-builders will have the same fear when embarking on their first project.
ACA have been in the industry for over ten years and have witnessed various problems that emerged due to a self-builders’ lack of experience. But do not worry; we have you covered. We believe that it is best to learn from the mistakes of others. Anyone who has ever watched an episode of Grand Designs will see that no build goes smoothly or as planned. But the key to this is how you deal with problems and rectify them.
This article will focus on some of the most common mistakes and issues that self-builders will encounter.
You may be in a situation where you feel like you have chosen the wrong site right from the start of your project. This could lead to issues around obtaining planning and ground conditions and even around getting services onto your site.
The characteristics of your site can present unique challenges that may impede the progress of your self-build. It is essential to be aware of the potential site-related issues and take appropriate measures to address them.
We would recommend that you obtain access to the site you wish to purchase prior to completion. At this point, you will be able to carry out a feasibility exercise with your architect. They will be able to advise on potential issues and whether a plot is developable.
Additional factors that could contribute towards your site being problematic are:
- Sloping or unstable terrain. This could pose significant challenges around construction on site and it may require additional groundwork, excavation and slope stabilisation. These can be time-consuming and could delay your project.
- Contamination and Environmental Considerations. Some sites have a history of contamination due to previous use, and this would require soil investigations to be carried out. Dependent on location, you may also have to consider proximity to protected areas or sensitive ecosystems. Resolving or investigating any of these issues can add additional time to your project.
- Access constraints. Limited or difficult access to your building site can hinder construction progress. When looking at a site, you need to consider how construction materials and vehicles will access the area. You may also have to consider negotiating shared access with neighbouring Planning, for this can help to minimise any potential delays.
- Utilities and Services. Availability and connection to essential utilities and services, such as water, electricity, and sewage, are vital for your Self-Build project. If the site lacks inadequate infrastructure or requires extensive upgrades, it can lead to delays as you navigate this process of obtaining necessary approvals and ensuring proper connections.
Problematic sites can introduce additional complexities and potential delays to your Self Build project. It is crucial to assess the unique characteristics of your site to develop tailored strategies to address any challenges that may arise. Engaging with professionals, conducting thorough investigations, adapting a design, and being proactive in obtaining permits and approvals will contribute to a smoother construction process.
The area of the country that your plot is in will determine the planning approval and warrants that you will require. There are, however, a number of approvals that are required before you can begin your build.
Across the country planning departments are understaffed and underfunded, leading to lengthy delays in obtaining planning approval. Currently, we would suggest that you factor in between 10-16 weeks for planning.
We would also suggest that you submit a pre-application enquiry on a project that has anything contentious. This will enable you to have a formal discussion with the planning authority.
Allowing the adequate amount of time for your planning to be approved will ensure that you don’t lose any valuable time or cause any delays throughout your build.
When collating the information needed for planning, it’s advised that you gather as much as possible to create a clear picture. Having high-quality CGI’s, clear designs/plans and site surveys will contribute towards this.
It’s important to note that the planning approval process may involve additional consultations, such as with statutory consultees, community councils and other relevant bodies. It is advisable that you take time to engage with professionals, such as architects and planners, who can guide you through the process and help you to prepare the necessary documentation. They can also liaise with the local planning authority on your behalf.
We would recommend that you thoroughly research the specific requirements of your local planning authority and engage with professionals who are experienced in dealing with planning regulations and applications. They can provide valuable insights and help to address any potential challenges that may arise throughout the process.
Budget and funding
Suitable funding and effective budgeting are critical for the successful completion of your Self Build project. Insufficient funds or inadequate budget planning can significantly impact the timeline and progress of your construction.
Securing finance for your Self Build can be a time-consuming process. Delays may occur due to lengthy approval procedures, documentation requirements or challenges in meeting the lender’s criteria. It is advisable to start the finance process early and engage with lenders or financial advisors to ensure smooth and timely approval.
Another common pitfall is underestimating the cost involved in a Self Build project. Failing to account for all expenses, including materials, labour, permits, and unexpected contingencies, can lead to budget shortfalls. It is crucial to conduct thorough research, consult professionals and create a realistic budget that accounts for all costs and potential delays.
Many of our clients opt for a low-energy home and use a modern method of construction. With this, you would need to take into account that you will need to pay for foundations, 95% of the cost of a kit would be expected to be paid for upfront, and you would also be expected to pay for half of the cost of all your windows and doors. This, therefore, means a huge expense at the beginning of the build. If you are choosing to opt for this type of build, you need to be aware of the cost that will need to be budgeted from the offset of the project.
By conducting thorough financial planning, creating a realistic budget and maintaining a contingency fund, you can mitigate the risk of delay caused by insufficient funds. Regular review of this budget and effective communication with all involved professionals will contribute to the success of your project. Remember, well planned and managed budget is crucial for a smooth and timely construction process.
Embarking on a Self Build journey is an exciting endeavour, but it’s important to be aware of the factors that can potentially cause delays along the way. Being proactive and well-prepared is key to mitigating these delays.
Patience and flexibility are essential throughout the journey. Delays will occur, but with careful planning, reviewing and communication, you will be more empowered to minimise the impact and keep your project on track.