Design and planning Design and planning Design and planning Design and planning Design and planning

Design and planning

The plot

When building one's own home the location is without doubt one of the most important considerations. Personal preferences will decide whether it is a place in the country, a new house in a small village, an urban setting, or a site near to friends, relatives or work. There may also be other important personal considerations before the decision is made on where you want to live.

Self build gives you the chance to choose a location suitable to you for whatever reasons. Part of the enjoyment of building your own home is the opportunity to have some input in the design. We all have our own ideas of how we would like our home to look and feel, but only a few of us will enjoy the chance to actually participate in having a say in the layout, the size and shape of the rooms and be able to suggest personal preferences to suit our lifestyle.

A sloping plot can give rise to some very interesting house designs. ‘Upside down’ houses can provide a large, airy lounge, but beware that bedrooms are not too dark.

Try also to work with the natural features of the plot. If it is possible to retain a mature tree or original hedge in the garden, the house will look established much quicker than if you start from a completely bare plot.

Every site has a number of views, although one or two may be better than the others. Consider where you will be spending most of your time in the house, and which rooms you would like to have the best views.

If the site looks flat, this does not necessarily mean it will offer easy building. Check carefully for underground streams, high water tables or even previous refuse dumps. The river running along the back of the garden may look terrific in the summer, but if it floods every winter, you may live to regret it.

Most plots will also have neighbouring properties. Make sure that your proposed property is designed sympathetically. Safety and security are often considered only after the property has been built. By considering these at the planning stage, you may be able to prevent dark entrances, narrow alleys and slippery paths in the winter. Some areas in the UK are susceptible to gas from the ground. If your plot is in such an area you will need to ensure that measures are in place to protect your home from this infiltration of gas to meet the regulations.

Good budgetary management is critical to any self-build project. One you have decided on a budget, which should include a contingency in case not everything goes to plan, make sure that the design team are aware of it and stick to it. We strongly advise you do not use money which is ear-marked for later stages. Robbing Peter to pay Paul could leave you with a beautiful house that you cannot afford to furnish!

There are some basics to help you manage your project;

By selecting a simple shape, you can make sure that your building costs are not too high. Elaborate angles and elevations may look impressive, but the roof construction required may result in a construction cost disproportionate to the rest of the building. Simple shapes need not be dull. An L shape property is as simple as a box shape, but can provide much more character and interest. We understand the need to work within a budget and to a predetermined payment schedule. Account facilities (subject to status) can be opened at any of our branches, enabling you to accurately plan payment schedules for your total build requirement.

Howarth’s team of self build experts are on hand to offer help and advice at any stage of the self build process. Click here to get in touch.

  • Forests Forever
  • British Woodworking Federation
  • Secured by Design
  • Wood Window Alliance
  • Timber Trade Federation
  • Timber Decking & Cladding Association
  • Federation of Master Builders

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