Nick Rosen |
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Don’t let anyone tell you that building a house is easy, whether you are off-grid or not. You must surround yourself with the right experts, get the best advice and take it slowly.

All about Self-build by Robert Matthews (Blackberry Books 22) is a step by step guide through the jungle of self-build — from buying the plot of land through to getting the final product signed off by the Local Authority building control department.

Here are the key steps to take BEFORE you even start building. They are based on the experience of the author, plus some tips of our own.

1. Make sure you have the money to do a self-build house in the UK will cost at least 150,000. You need to start with half that in the bank, and a good credit rating to raise the other half through mortgages. Remember, self-build is zero-rated for VAT, so you can claim every penny of VAT back at the end of the project
2. Join the Association of Self-builders benefit from their discounts, and learn from others mistakes.
3. Decide whether you are going to contract out the entire project to a builder; or hire a project manager; or be your own project manager
4. Finding a plot is the most important single decision in the process. You cannot take too much trouble over this. It should be the ideal plot for you, and you need to investigate the Local Authority attitude towards self-build as well as any existing rights of way or other obstacles to planning permission.
5. Make sure you have your own vision for your self-build, and then engage an architectural designer to set it out in the form which a builder can work with. Best not to hire an architect. They are too expensive and push you towards building their vision, not your own.
6. You need to pay inspectors to ensure you have conformed to building regulations. Consider carefully whether to use the Local Authority inspectors who can be arbitrary and capricious, or whether to use the services of the National House Builders Council, for a similar fee will apply national standards and give good advice.
7. Consider alternatives to the mainstream. Alternative building styles and materials, and the possibility of going off-grid. if you have a well or a stream on your land, then you have water and can provide your own power. If you have a river passing through, then you have power and water. You can save a huge amount on utility bills over the next 10-20 years. there are many other self-help guides to self-building. Here is one:
Build Your Own Home: The Ultimate Guide to Managing a Self-build Project and Creating Your Dream House

Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site

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