Learn the programme of your project
It’s difficult to predict exactly how long a building project will take between the identification of a site to handing over the keys. In a process that involves the legal system, the planning system and an overworked construction industry, delays are almost inevitable – so be prepared.
However, the sequence is always largely the same:
First, find an available plot in your favoured location and make sure its suitable for the intended purpose. You may wish to consult with a building professional, such as a chartered surveyor, prior to purchase. When you're ready to proceed, appoint a solicitor to put in a conditional offer on your behalf. Once applicable consents and legalities are dealt with, the land is yours.
You’ll need to think carefully about what design would suit your site, budget and what you plan to use it for. Talk through the different options with us and any other building professionals involved. Their advice will help you select the house that matches your brief with your budget. More information can be found here.
Having a local architect, surveyor or other professional experienced in the construction industry can be invaluable when building a house. They will act as your agent and be able to give guidance through the whole process based on their in-depth knowledge of procedure and the pitfalls to avoid. They may also be required to provide stage valuations to your mortgage company once the project is on site.
This should be done by your agent on your behalf. We will provide drawings of your chosen design for inclusion in the submission to planning. Your agent can also assist you in obtaining the site-specific drawings you will require. Once the application is lodged it should take eight weeks for a decision to be reached, although often it takes longer. Your agent will also deal with other agencies that may become involved. (You may be interested in our one-stop planning and warrant service.)
We will supply you with detailed construction drawings for inclusion in the submission (by you or your agent) to your local building control office for a building warrant. We will also supply a copy of the NHBC technical standards on CD-ROM. Your agent will assist in obtaining the site-specific drawings you will require. We recommend that you involve a structural engineer at this stage to advise on the foundations required for your particular site. Finalise the choice of your bathroom suites and kitchen and ask your agent to tender the drawings and specification to reputable local builders.
If you are intending to use a bridging loan or mortgage, make sure it’s suitable for the project ahead. Builders usually expect to be paid monthly, so a badly planned payment release schedule could cause unnecessary difficulties further down the line.
The normal process is for your agent to put your house out to tender to three reputable contractors, ideally NHBC registered. The agent will ensure that you sign a contract with the builder who has returned the most suitable tender. Price is not the only consideration – for example, you may value an earlier completion date. Your agent should ensure that both the builder and yourself understand the contract you are entering into and its obligations. (Please note: in our turnkey service, we would instead appoint one of our affiliated contractors.)
This is the exciting part. With detailed drawings, professional guidance and a good builder, you can sit back and enjoy watching your house being built. First there is site clearance and the building of the substructure. Then comes the arrival of the structurally-insulated panels (SIPs) and their erection by certified installers. Electrical and plumbing roughing will begin inside as the outer skin is completed externally. And when the finishes are in place and the kitchen fitted, paintwork will bring the house to life. For more information, see our guidance on the build process.
Once the house has been granted a completion certificate by the council and approved by your agent, you can lie back on your carefully chosen sofa and contemplate your wonderful new home.