How Much Does It Cost To Build A House

Many people dream of building their own homes. The freedom it gives in design choice, personalisation and location make it an attractive project versus buying an existing property. It could also potentially save you money in the long term. To carry out a self home-build takes planning, time and an expendable budget. This article will take a look at just how much you might expect that budget to be. There are many elements to consider so there’s no “one price fits all” for any given self-build, but let’s take a deeper look into the most important components to reveal a general estimate.

What You Need To Consider

Planning, Budgeting & Research

Before embarking on such a large scale project, planning and budgeting are key. To receive a self-build mortgage, to begin with, you will need a sizeable deposit. Don’t let this put you off, however. As mentioned, having the opportunity to build your own home could save you money overall, and you will end up with a home designed to your particular tastes and needs. On average, a house build in the UK in 2021 will cost around £1,800 per square metre. Depending on specs and location, however, this can increase to more than £4,000 per square metre.

It goes without saying to first carry out comprehensive research. Try to get a few quotes for your build. Of course, you’ll want to save as much money as possible, but investing in reputable tradespeople will see the project run more smoothly and with added security.

When budgeting, setting aside a contingency of around 10% of the overall funds is a sensible decision to prepare for unforeseen circumstances and costs. Keep in mind when planning to also factor in the costs of other hidden extras such as legal fees and insurance. It is important to have a thorough plan as any changes made at a later date could add thousands onto the price of the build.

Land – The Most Expensive Part!

To build a house you first need to own land on which to build it. This is most definitely a case of location, location location. Where you want to build your house will have a big effect on its price. Land surrounding London and the South of England will be vastly more expensive than that in the more Northern areas of the UK, for example.

The price of the land will naturally be a large chunk out of your budget. If you already have a mortgage behind you, you can attempt to bring down the price of the plot with an initial lower bid. This offer can always be raised if not first accepted.

Not all plots come equally. Examining if the land will need extra preparation before any construction can be done through investing in a site survey. This is sensible to avoid any unwanted surprises further down the line. Purchasing land to build on and later discovering that there are site access difficulties, or that it lies on a problematic slope can lead to costly delays. You can expect to pay around £500 for a thorough site survey.

The next important thing to consider is Stamp Duty (England and Northern Ireland), Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Scotland) or Land Transaction Tax (Wales). If your plot costs more than £125,000 then a percentage will be taxed on top of the price of the plot.

Once you’ve secured your land, you’ll need to apply for planning permission. This also currently costs around £500. There are two different types of planning permission. Outline, and full planning permission. Once granted, you have a period of three years to begin building. Keep in mind that you can submit as many applications as you like for the site and choose which one to use if they are all accepted. You can also withdraw your application if it looks like it won’t be accepted. To then resubmit you won’t be charged again. Once you have this initial stage sorted, you can begin to look towards the design of your future house.

Tip: Getting somewhere with planning permission is going to cost a lot, but getting friendly with some local architects will be massive if you go for places that don’t have any. As they will usually be able to guide you on what you can and can’t build as they do it day in and day out.

Design

Realising your vision and what you want your future home to look like is possible by hiring a reliable architect. Architects fees will typically be between 5- 15% of the budget. An architect will guide you through the entire process. In looking for one, you should ask to see previous examples of their work and shop around for one that fits with your design tastes. They will help to make your dream home a reality, whilst keeping within the necessary building and legal regulations and practicalities. They will be budget conscious and help you to make informed decisions.

The bigger the house, the more it will cost. Similarly, the more complex the design, the higher the price. A bungalow design will be considerably cheaper than a building that is several storeys high. Sit down with your chosen architect and discuss what you need and expect in terms of size, bedroom number and layout. They will work out the best design given the plot of land and location. A further option to keep in mind is the abundance of good quality prefab alternatives. This can cut out a lot of the harder decisions and can also slash overall costs significantly.

Materials

There are countless options when it comes to material choice. The quality of these will make a huge difference in the price of the overall build. The architect you have hired will have a good idea as to what materials you can afford, and what will be best for your house.

The so-called superstructure of the house will take the largest chunk out of your budget. This being the walls, beams and external cladding. Standard building quality will use materials such as block and brick to create this superstructure. More expensive options would be local bespoke local stone or a timber frame. Only you can know the parameters of your budget and therefore what materials are suitable.

Keep in mind that the cost of building materials on a self-build are VAT free. This can be claimed back after completion, and often adds up to a generous sum so it is worth remembering to do this. Remember you need to get rid of the waste too, although skips compared to everything else on the list don’t cost that much, you should research them.

Foundations

As touched upon already, every plot is different. That’s why it is hard to give an accurate estimate as to how much foundations for a house will cost overall. In fact, until the digging has started you probably won’t know what the exact cost will be. Some foundations will be simple to lay, however, some may require an engineered foundation solution.

Several variables contribute to the differing cost of foundations. These being the availability of concrete, or if the site does sit on a slope. The presence of trees can also affect the moisture in the ground, therefore increasing the need for concrete and labour. Overall, foundations will cost somewhere between £6,000 to £15,000.

Roofing

A roof is made up of many parts. The price of it can also be estimated per meter square. Low pitch roofs with larger tiles which cover a bigger area will cost less than smaller tiles. Equally, concrete tiles will be cheaper overall than clay or slate roofing. Prices can range from between £20/m² for standard large format concrete tiles to around £80/m² for more bespoke tiles. This price will also increase, if you decide to include more decorative roofing features and if installing a steeper roof.

Try to seek a few non-binding quotes from different roofing firms. Depending on where you are building, there may be local standards of deciding what material your roof will be. Your architect should make you aware of this. A new roof overall may cost around £5000 outside of London.

Service Connections

Gas, water, sewers, electricity and telephone are what is known as mains services. If the site where your house is being built isn’t connected to any of these, you can expect to pay around £10,000 to make your house fully functional. Building at a remote location will be exponentially more expensive and complicated than if the plot is close to service connections, or has been previously connected.

It’s advisable to look into service connections as early as possible. They can take around six weeks to be connected. It is incredibly useful for during the build to already have certain services, such as water on site.

How Long Does It Take?

Every project is unique and will have different scheduling, processing and build times. From finding a plot to move-in day, it typically takes around anywhere between fifteen months to two years. To begin with, finding and securing a suitable plot itself can be a lengthy process. So if you are considering a self-build it is advisable to begin looking as soon as possible. Other things that initially take time are as already mentioned, planning permission and service connections.

Scheduling is key. During the build, many things can occur which will affect the timeframe of the project. From unexpected problems to materials not being delivered to bad weather, it is natural for things to not go one hundred per cent to plan. Having a schedule gives something concrete to fall back on to make sure that the process will still continue, despite setbacks.

Can You Do It Yourself? Self Build Homes

One of the most brilliant advantages of taking on a self-build project is the opportunity to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. Naturally, there are some tasks which should be left up to professionals such as the installation of electrics and plumbing. It is possible to do some other specialist work alone, as long as you get are up to regulation standards. Tasks that are more accessible for the average person to do include taking charge of the interior design and decoration.

If you are less of a DIY nut and more of a planner, you can also choose to project manage and oversee the build yourself. This isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. A poorly managed home build project can lead to errors and could ultimately be costly. You will need to be highly organised and have an abundance of time on your hands to project manage successfully. You will be responsible for the hiring of professionals and buying of materials. If the budget is available, consider whether hiring a contractor to do this for you might be a safer option.

It may seem like there are countless costs to consider and decisions to make when looking to build a house. There are benefits to taking on such a project, whether ending up with your dream house to live in or selling it for a profit. It is vital to weigh up the pros and cons and whether building a house is a viable avenue to go down.

Fiona Wiedmann

Fiona Wiedmann

Fiona Wiedmann is a Scottish-German writer and theatre-maker based in Berlin. Her written work spans from creative and playwriting, copywriting, to home improvement. She has previously written for the Blinkist Magazine and other online locations, as well as having her theatre showcased in Stage2Page Edinburgh.

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