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What Is A Self Build? –
Everything You Need To Know

What Is a Self Build

According to recent market research, around 13,000 self build projects were completed in 2022. ‘Self Build’ is a widely recognised term in the construction industry – but as it grows in popularity as a house building approach, what exactly is a Self Build?

The dictionary tells us that the term ‘Self Build’ means, quite simply, “the building of homes by their owners”. However, a Self Build can be so much more than this initial description. There are plenty of reasons why it is growing in recognition, so here are some of our alternative definitions. For us at AC Architects, a Self Build is:


Why settle for an uninspiring house that doesn’t meet your expectations as a home? A Self Build is your opportunity to break away from the mainstream and take control of where you want to live. In taking this opportunity, a Self Build can offer you a home for life.

Before working with an architect, you can express your creative side and can have input in the design brief. Thinking about what you would like your Self Build to achieve, this is your chance to set the criteria for your dream home. The designers can take your creative concepts on board, and develop them from ideas, into reality.

With the government aiming to significantly reduce the country’s carbon emissions in the coming years, an eco-friendly Self Build home is an ideal way of contributing to this target. From the different types of insulation, to the thickness of your building’s windows, there are many ways to express your creative side whilst building an energy-efficient Self Build home.


Ready to embark on your Self Build journey? Our expert team is here to guide you every step of the way. From site evaluations to crafting an energy-efficient design, let's turn your vision into reality. Book your online consultation now!

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Initiating the Self Build process involves recruiting a team of professionals to help with your project. Building your own home doesn’t necessarily mean you have a hand in the physical building of the house (unless you want to!), but having an involvement in coordinating the different Self Build stages gives you a good insight into project management. From the Designs to the Finances, there are many stages on the Self Build learning curve for you to gain experience from.

The level of involvement you have with your Self Build home is up to you, and your finances may dictate the route you take towards building your dream home. With the following figures based on a generic house design, with a medium specification, built on a flat and level site with services – the main routes to build a house are as follows:

Going for a traditional approach, you might hire a Main Contractor – this was once seen as the typical way to realise your Self Build ambitions. You have the responsibility for appointing your professional team to complete the design and approval work. Then you would hire a builder to carry out the complete build in a ‘Turn Key’ solution. Should you choose to follow this route, it is recommended you budget around £2,000 per square metre for your build costs.


Access invaluable insights covering essential topics such as Self Build Resources, Purchasing Land, Finance & Budgeting, Timescales & Programming, Choosing the Right Team, Case Studies and more. Whether you're just starting out or already in the early stages, ACA's free guide has you covered!

What Is a Self Build

The most popular method in recent times is known as the Part Self Build. This approach sees the Self Builder getting more involved in the design process, as well as working more closely with the professionals in obtaining the approvals.

The Self Builder would then interview a number of sub-contractors responsible for separate packages of works – for example, the groundworks, the kit (building fabric), windows and doors, roofers, joiners, plumbers and electricians. By separating each of these disciplines, the main contractor’s profit is taken out of the picture.

The Self Builder would then run the management of each trade and program the work schedule. This might seem daunting, however, if you have ever managed staff or teams within your professional life – or have run a household – then managing a building project is just as achievable. By separating the trades and running the build yourself, you can get the build budget down significantly to around £1,400 per square metre.

The most ambitious go for the Full Self Build. This is very similar to the Part Self Build, however the Self Builder would start to split the services of the sub contractors up into labour and material quotes. Often the Self Builder can find great deals for materials via unconventional purchase methods – by searching on eBay, at auctions, and by purchasing at trade shows. This is not for everyone and will take a lot of research time, however, there can be big savings. In addition to negotiating the material and labour costs, the Self Builder may take on a number of the basic building tasks.

These can include basic joinery work, fitting plasterboard, timber cladding or finishing works. To save a vast amount of money, some Self Builders can complete first fix electrics and plumbing works, but it is always recommended leaving second fix and all commission works to the professionals. By completing these steps, Full Self Build can reduce the price to around £1,000 per square metre – a massive saving on traditional build methods.

The total costs of a Self Build home can be significantly less than buying ordinary property outright. Despite some misconceptions, Self Builds are available to people of all ages – those nearing retirement aren’t the only ones who can build their own homes! Self Builds can be a useful route onto the property ladder for first time buyers too.

So, with the opportunity to head an exciting project from conception to completion, and in building a unique, cost-efficient and energy-saving home for yourself, ACA believe a Self Build is… A Fantastic Idea All-Round!