Even if a plot already has outline planning consent, it may not be as suitable as first appears. Do your research or commission a professional to do a feasibility study before you take the plunge into a self build house project. Here are some questions you need to consider:
- How easy is it to access?
A long access road to the house position can be very costly. The story of the family who built a mile-long road to the site of their dream home – only to find they could only afford a caravan afterwards – is not apocryphal. Level access over a short distance will save you money.
- What are the ground conditions like?
Building on a bog is not impossible, just inadvisable due to the expense in making the ground structurally secure. Likewise, hard rock may have to be blasted or broken which again will have a financial impact.
- Can the house be easily serviced?
Without a water main, you could consider drilling a borehole or taking water from a spring. But will this water meet safety standards? Similarly, a distant electrical supply will mean incurring more unforeseen expense.
- What will the sewerage arrangements be?
Can you connect to a mains sewerage system or will a private septic tank or treatment plant be required?
There are a number of more general issues that also need to be considered when considering the site of your flat pack house:
It is always worthwhile getting a topographical survey of your site done. Your agent or architect should arrange this. Such a survey will allow you to better select the house position and access, and to minimise the amount of earth removal and rock breaking required. Planning departments will also often ask for levels and sections through the site.
- Nearby buildings
New housing should fit in with the existing settlement and surrounding landscape. Be respectful of local planning rules and opt for a design and site that suit the context. Our houses have the benefit of being developed from historical forms – which means they should be able to fit beautifully into a town, village, farmyard or remote setting.
- Materials and landscaping
Landscaping is often overlooked during the building process. But building stane dykes (drystone walls), decks and timber outbuildings can help bed your house into its surroundings. Larch, stone and metal are the common building materials of the countryside, and by using them on and around your house you will develop a continuity of design.
You will want to exploit the views from your site, but consider too the prevailing wind and sun. How will you find shelter from the south-westerlies? Could the house be positioned to benefit from passive solar gain? Could planting or an outbuilding act as a sound barrier or wind break?
If you are employing a consultant, he or she will assist you with all these parts of the process.