Self Build: A Guide to Building your Own Home. Are you, or a member of your family, disabled and thinking about building a home?

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1 Self Build: A Guide to Building your Own Home Are you, or a member of your family, disabled and thinking about building a home?

2 Introduction As a disabled person or a family with a disabled family member, you may find that commissioning a new house specifically for you is a way of getting exactly the home you want in your choice of location. You can choose your plot layout, your elevations, the number and size of rooms, the layout, the fixtures you like and the level of insulation and energy efficiency that suits you. These choices are not available through the purchase of an existing property or a new home from a large house builder. For the purpose of this fact sheet it is assumed that your home is to be financed through a self- build mortgage and constructed by a building contractor. We will call this self- build even though you will not be physically undertaking the work yourself. However you could choose to directly manage the building works as this could deliver substantial cost savings but this approach requires a good understanding of the practicalities of building construction. The use of a well- resourced and experienced Building Contractor will mitigate risk, deliver cost certainty and satisfy the exacting requirements of a typical self- build mortgage provider. Self- build may be the most effective and affordable way of providing yourself with a suitable home that matches your requirements. Self- build can provide you with a home at a cost substantially below its market value on completion. However there are a number of things you will need to know in order to decide whether having a home designed and built to your plan is for you. This leaflet introduces you to the most important issues you will need to consider. 2

3 Preparing for self- build If you are considering self- build you will need to prepare by finding out: How long it may take The size of your budget (be realistic!) What advice you need and where to get it How and where to find and buy a building plot Once you have worked through these four questions, you will be ready to decide how you want to proceed. The design and construction of a house follows five basic stages: Working out the initial sketch design based on your accommodation requirements Developing the design and securing planning permission Finalising the design and getting the Building Warrant (and other statutory approvals) Drawing up a contract and appointing a Building Contractor Constructing your home These stages may overlap and this could lead to significant timescale savings. Each stage requires time, planning and good advice. You will find each explained below. 3

4 How long will it take? The process of securing a plot, designing a house and getting it built will obviously take longer than buying an existing house. It can take at least six months from first identifying the plot to the point where you start building. You will need this time to negotiate your purchase deal, to secure your statutory approvals and to organise your building contract. However this timescale can be improved if the plot already has statutory approvals secured for a design that matches your requirements. Your proposed house will require a range of statutory approvals before it can be constructed and your mortgage provider will require proof of these consents before funding is released. These are secured by making application to the relevant Local Authority with standard application forms, your detailed design proposals and the payment of application fees. Your critical approvals will be Full Planning Permission and Building Warrant but others may also be required. These could include, for example, Roads Construction Consent for highway works to access your plot. Each plot is different and you should make contact with your Local Authority Planning Department for advice once you have identified a plot. Most traditionally built brick or stone houses take up to 12 months to construct. A timber frame or modular house, using a factory- produced kit for the superstructure, can be built faster and contract times will range from 6 months approximately. Effective project management will reduce your build timescale substantially. 4

5 Deciding on your budget You will have a number of expenses: Plot acquisition (including stamp duty) Legal fees (for the plot purchase, appointment of consultants and your contractor) Fees for statutory approvals (planning consent, building warrant etc) Professional fees and expenses (for the house design and construction supervision) Building costs (including external landscaping and utilities connections) Furnishings (including floor finishes, decoration, window coverings, white goods) Funding (typically a mix of self- build mortgage finance and your own capital) Temporary accommodation (while the house is being built) Almost all these costs will fall due before you move in and you will have to use a self- build mortgage product (unless you have sufficient capital resources to fully fund the project). This is a more complex process than buying an existing house but you will be guided by the requirements of your self- build mortgage agreement and your team of professional advisors. Under some circumstances grants are available from the Scottish Government, Local Authorities or charities to assist with the costs of building a home for particular needs. However the process of application for funding may lead to project delays and would need to be considered in conjunction with your mortgage provider as this may restrict your ability to subsequently sell your completed house on the open market if adaptations have been financed through public funds (As some of these bodies put 5

6 time restrictions on these funds). Grant funding may be available for sustainable construction features designed to reduce energy usage. * This is the point at which to start considering whether to spend now to achieve long- term savings, to design in future flexibility or economise and invest later (an extension could be added in the future). Concrete roof tiles should be substantially cheaper than natural slate and deliver the same result. The use of extensive energy saving measures, again for example, should be carefully considered against the initial increased construction costs. Securing the right advice In order to help you through the development process, and to satisfy your mortgage provider, you will need to appoint a range of professional advisors. They will be your project team and will work with you to design and deliver your new home. You will need an Architect, a Structural / Civil Engineer, a Quantity Surveyor and a Solicitor. Your team will need a leader and you will want to appoint one person / organisation to undertake the Project Manager role and lead the team to deliver your home on time, on budget and in line with your requirements. The roles that these important advisers can play are explained below: The Architect will advise you on all stages of the project: initial feasibility sketches, planning policy, design development, negotiating approvals and project managing the overall process. The Architect should be a member of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) or for an Architectural Technician, a member of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technicians (CIAT). They should be 6

7 willing to visit you at home to discuss your requirements and then provide a no- obligation fee proposal. It is also advisable that they have had experience in designing properties for disabled people previously. * The Structural / Civil Engineer will be responsible for investigating the site you choose, advising on the right type of foundation necessary for local ground conditions, plot layout, utilities and providing structural design certification for the house. The Engineer should be a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) or the Institute of Structural Engineers (IStructE). It may be necessary to appoint separate structural and civil engineers dependent on the complexity of your chosen plot and the range of services they can provide. * The Quantity Surveyor will provide you with advice on construction costs, advise on building contracts, prepare the tender documents and manage the payments to the contractor. The Surveyor should be a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). * You will need a suitably experienced Property Solicitor to advise on the number of legal agreements required to purchase and develop your plot. They will not be involved in the design of your home and will work under your direct instruction. Your Solicitor should be a member of the Law Society of Scotland. * A Chartered Property Surveyor could assist you with your site acquisition search, land valuation, negotiations and the projected value of your completed house. The Surveyor should be a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). * An Accountant or Bookkeeper will ensure that you are taking the correct approach with VAT payment and reimbursement procedures. Your self- build project will attract varying rates of VAT and it is important to follow 7

8 the rules to ensure that your liability is kept to a minimum. * It is important to select qualified advisors who can guarantee their input through the provision of Professional Indemnity Insurance to provide you with a redress mechanism should something go wrong with the project. A professionally registered advisor will have to adhere to a strict code of conduct that gives you a clear benchmark against which their service can be measured. It is particularly important to establish if they have experience in designing for disabled people. You should request information on their completed projects and references from satisfied customers. Fee agreements for your advisors should be carefully considered and you will need to be clear that your consultants have budgeted for the feasibility, design and construction phases of your project. This should include regular site visits. They should be able to provide a fixed price quotation for their services with an hourly rate agreement for any additional and unforeseen input. Your commissioning letter should confirm the terms and conditions of what you expect from them including when payments are due. You should engage your Architect, Engineer and Quantity Surveyor at an early stage to assist you with selecting and bidding for your plot. A few useful phone calls and basic sketch and cost plans might be secured for a nominal fee on the basis that they will secure the live project. You may need to bid for number of plots before you are successful. Above all, choose people you trust. You will be working with them for quite some time to deliver your most valuable material asset! 8

9 Finding and buying a site The site could be your biggest cost, especially in a popular suburb in a large city. Whilst you can have preliminary discussions about finance with the mortgage lenders and other people or organisations who might be involved in developing your new home, not much can happen until you have a plot in prospect. You can identify plots from a number of sources: Property you already own, for instance your garden House plots for sale on the open market (with planning permission) Direct negotiation with an owner having identified land in your preferred location Serviced plots for sale within a larger development Local Authority land sales Housing Association land sales House- builders and Developers (who sometimes sell surplus land stock) Private landowners and trusts, who make land available for projects of local worth Land finding agents Architects or other consultants, who may have local knowledge of land being sold The process of identifying a residential plot for sale is very similar to identifying houses for sale and you will be searching the same websites, estate agents offices and newspapers as you would do for a house search. There are many websites and publications dedicated to the self- build industry. 9

10 The internet is a particularly useful tool for identifying suitable land parcels and conducting your elementary research into local house prices, confirming planning policies and identifying available house plots for sale on the open market. A simple study can save a lot of time and effort in your search for a plot. You can quickly gather enough information to eliminate a plot as a possibility for your self- build or decide that it is worth pursuing.* Key issues to consider are: Location (is this somewhere you would want to live?) Surrounding environment (what is over the fence and across the road?) Natural Features (are there trees, watercourses etc?) Access (does it have direct access to the public highway?) Land contours (is it too steep?) Site capacity (can it accommodate my requirements?) Local house prices (how much could my home be worth?) Amenities (where are the schools, doctors, supermarkets etc?) Transport links (where is the railway station and bus routes?) Planning status (does the plot already have planning permission?) Utility connections (can I connect to the sewers, gas, electric etc?) Previous use of land (e.g. contamination?) Unless you are in the fortunate position to already own suitable land you will need to bid for your plot, as you would do for a house on the market. The offer price will be determined by the size of proposed house, your development cost assumptions and your enthusiasm. Planning permission is vitally important and your self- build mortgage provider is going to require confirmation of this before committing funds to your project. Many plots are sold with the benefit of planning permission 10

11 and the vendor should be able to provide you with their detailed plans in this circumstance. You can confirm the planning status of land with the relevant Local Authority. Land valuation is a critical issue. The plot may be offered for sale with a guide price and your self- build mortgage provider will need to be satisfied that your offer price is consistent with its market value. This can be determined with reference to recent land transactions in the locality or by estimating the sales price of the proposed house, deducting an estimate of your total development costs and using a proportion of this residual sum for land value. Self- build mortgage providers are likely to appoint their own Chartered Property Surveyor to satisfy themselves about the market value of the chosen plot. Your form of purchase contract for the plot has to be very carefully considered and will be drawn up by your Solicitor who should have extensive property experience. In submitting an offer for the plot it should be worth considering the following specific preconditions for purchase albeit a vendor may not be prepared to accept these: Subject to securing self build mortgage finance specific to your requirements Selling your existing home Undertaking a site investigation (if not available from the vendor) Securing statutory approvals (if these are not already in place) Once you have purchased the plot you will need to put in place suitable insurance and you may wish to consider what site security should be established to prevent unauthorised occupation and fly- tipping for example. 11

12 Working out the design Your Architect will be responsible for helping you decide what design ideas will work for you, drawing up a sketch plan and then developing it. You will begin to get a good idea of what you want once you have seen the sketches. The designer should not push you into a decision but should offer suggestions that get the most out of the building for you. If you want to visualise the building look for existing houses that you like. If you have an Occupational Therapist it can be useful to involve them in the design process, both to help you think through your current and future needs and also to establish if there are particular aids or adaptations that should be incorporated. Note that the self- build mortgage provider will closely scrutinise your proposals to ensure that the expected market value of your home is going to exceed your total development costs. You will need a valuation by a Chartered Property Surveyor to ensure this. You will also want to check the value of the proposed house again when you are ready to build, to make sure the value has not changed either because of changes in property values or changes in your design. Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 may apply to your project and this may necessitate designating a team member to the role of Planning Supervisor who will take responsibility for identifying construction and operational risks within the evolving building design. Your Architect will be able to advise and may be qualified to undertake this role. This will need to be confirmed at the early stages of design and will be dependent on various factors including the value and duration of the works. * 12

13 Developing the design and getting planning consent You will need Full Planning Permission before you start to build. This covers the appearance, size, number of rooms and location of the building as well as its effect on the local environment, including your neighbours. You should engage with the Local Authority Planning Department as early as possible and secure confirmation of the acceptability in principle of your proposal with reference to existing planning policies. They may have special requirements such as restrictions on types of building materials, height restrictions or a fundamental objection to residential use on your chosen plot. If you are looking to adapt an existing design what changes are going to be acceptable? Permission is likely to take at least two months from the time you submit your planning application. When you have an agreed sketch design the architect can then finalise the site and layout plans and agree the external materials and finishes to be used on the house. They will undertake this task in conjunction with your Engineer and Quantity Surveyor. Your Architect can then apply to the Local Authority for planning permission. Finalizing the design and getting the building warrant Once you have secured planning permission the Architect can complete the building design drawings and specification and apply for Building Warrant. 13

14 This has to be secured before construction commences. It covers a variety of detailed considerations including structure, energy performance, drainage and ventilation and is required to ensure that your design satisfies statutory design standards This consent takes 6-8 weeks to obtain from submission of the application. The drawings produced by the Architect and Engineer for the Building Warrant application will be used for construction. The Local Authority as part of the Building Warrant submission will require your Engineer to provide structural design certification and an Energy Performance Certificate will be required following completion of the building to give information on energy usage. Your mortgage provider is likely to insist on a comprehensive structural warranty being put in place to cover the costs of rectifying structural problems and this will run for, typically, 10 years. The cost of a structural guarantee will vary but is generally based on the size of the house and the construction materials. It does not cover you for non- structural problems like leaky roofs or poor plumbing but more comprehensive warranty packages are available through commercial organisations such as the National House- Building Council (NHBC). * Your Engineer should ensure that all agreements have been secured with the utility providers to ensure that your home can be provided with water, electricity, and telecommunications and at what cost. Equally important will be securing permission from Scottish Water to connect to the sewage pipe network. Mains gas connections are not always available. Any changes you make to the design during the construction process may require an amendment to the Building Warrant that could lead to time delays and cost increases. 14

15 Choosing a builder and drawing up a contract Your Project Manager will invite Building Contractors to tender (this means quote a price) for the work based on the detailed drawings and specification completed for the Building Warrant application process. Alternatively they may leave this detail for later but provide details of the essential criteria and specifications for the house and agree amounts of money to be included for you to spend on the fitting out of the house (e.g. kitchen and bathroom fittings). The Project Manager will write up the conditions of the building contract, setting out how long the works should take and when payments are due. Your Project Manager will send these documents to a number of Building Contractors who will then quote for undertaking the work. When the tenders come back you choose which to accept, if any. If you are not impressed with any of them, you can always reject them all, or negotiate a better price. You may need to review your budget and possibly making changes or compromises to your specification as budget costs become tender prices. Once you have chosen a Building Contractor you will need to form a contract. Issues to consider at this point are the form of contract to use bearing in mind that you may be entering into a six- figure commitment with a Building Contractor; a standard form of Scottish Building Contract is available. It would be advisable to take advice at this stage from your Solicitor too. You will need to carefully consider the warranty to be offered by the contractor, the inclusion of a retention sum for defective work and penalties for late completion. You will need to be satisfied that the written 15

16 specification and detailed drawings match your expectations and these are fully understood by your proposed Building Contractor. You will want cost certainty and a tightly defined contract, backed up with a full technical information pack should enable you to secure a fixed price tender from reputable Building Contractors. This should ensure that your home is delivered on time and on budget. Once you own the land and the building contract is signed the actual construction of the house can begin! Building the house Ensure that your builder has made allowance for sufficient security during the contract; material thefts and wanton vandalism could lead to time delays and cost increases. The Project Manager will now administer the contract fairly between you and the Building Contractor, inspect the work to ensure it is done correctly and certify how much should be paid at what stage unless you have specified dates for set payments to be made. Any problems that arise during contract should be addressed to the Project Manager who will keep control of the works and keep you informed of any material changes that could lead to additional costs or time delays. Your contractor should have responsibility for liaising with the Local Authority Building Control function and will arrange for regular inspections to be undertaken at key project milestones to confirm that the house is being constructed according to the approved design. A Completion Certificate will be issued once Building Control have carried out a final 16

17 inspection of your house and this will be required before you move in. Once all these stages are complete, the next thing you do is to move in and enjoy it. Your home is finished! Another option: Design and build There is another increasingly common way to get a house built to your own specification and it is worth mentioning here. It differs in some details from the traditional process described above, but essentially follows the same stages and requires the same permissions but simplifies the process for the prospective self- builder. A Building Contractor can be appointed to design and build a house. This means the Building Contractor, not the Architect, is responsible for much of the design of the house as well as for overseeing its construction and this method simplifies the procurement process. However, it also leaves you less in control of the detailed specification of the house and means you will need to get all the specification details like heights of window sills and fixtures sorted out at the beginning of the process. Your Builder becomes your single point of contact for all design and construction issues. There are some different ways to approach design and build: Find a Building Contractor who has a standard design you can adapt and use, and negotiate with them, through your Architect, to build to your specification Get the project to Planning Permission or Building Warrant stage and then have the Architect help you tender the rest of the work to a Building Contractor as a design and build project. They then take the 17

18 design and specification of the project from that point to completion. Find an Architect or Architectural Technologist to work with you to draw up a house and site layout and essential specification items and then to tender for a design and build contract where the successful Building Contractor will then do the detailed drawings and apply for planning permission and building warrant. The help of an Architect adviser is still recommended to make sure the process runs smoothly and the contract is administered properly. The Architect can act as an independent inspector of the work in progress and keep you informed at each stage. Finally If you have read through these points and think designing and building your own home may be the right thing for you, then talk to an adviser. You might want to discuss your ideas with a housing adviser, Occupational Therapist or an Architect. There are a lot of factors to weigh up and it is a big step to take but designing and building your own home could be the best solution to your needs and it can be extremely satisfying when it s finished! 18

19 *Further information Sources There is a plethora of information available to assist the prospective self- builder and the following websites are suggested starting points for your research. Grant funding Grant funding available will be available from a range of sources and it is subject to frequent change the Scottish Government website can provide detailed information relating to national policies on housing provision, energy reduction initiatives and regeneration. Choosing Consultants - Architects - Engineers

20 - Surveyors (Quantity and Property) - Solicitors - Accountants Plot finding Please note that these are websites for commercial organisations. Warranty products Please note that this is a website for a commercial organisation. Health & Safety issues 20

21 Contacts Housing Options Scotland Tel: The Melting Pot Fax: Rose Street Edinburgh Web: Housing Options Scotland

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