Ask Away...: Can't Afford Your Dream Home? Build It!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Can't Afford Your Dream Home? Build It!

We’ve all sat there in the evenings (or during the day when you’re supposed to be working) looking through the house listings at properties we could never afford. You look for your dream home, the one with the beautiful view, or the walk-in wardrobe. You try your best to ignore the prices and tell yourself that one day, you might be able to afford that dream home so long as you work hard enough. But you know in your heart that the dream home is just that, a dream. But there is an alternative. You can have your home and live in it too. It won’t be as simple as getting yourself a generous loan and moving straight in, but if you are adamant about putting your feet up in a dream home, there is another route. You could build it yourself. Or rather, you could pay somebody else to build it for you. This may seem like an option for those with a limitless budget, but you’d be surprised how affordable the whole process can be. The majority of the time, the cost of the land and the build combined is less than the value of the property upon completion of the project. This means that if you built your dream family home, but then decided years later that you wanted to downsize now that the kids have flown the nest, you would stand to gain a considerable amount on your initial investment. Below are the simple steps you need to follow to go from being a home dreamer to a homeowner.

Plan your build

The very first step is to plan what your dream home is going to look like. It’s very easy to start getting into the details too soon and begin picking out color schemes and furnishings. But before any of that comes, you need to start with the basics. How big do you want it to be? How many rooms? How many floors? Avoid the temptation to go too grand with your design; you still have a budget to stick to. Remember that the building footprint is the most expensive part. By designing your home yourself, you can utilize the space better for your needs. Start with a list of the rooms you want. Kitchen, lounge, dining room, and downstairs bathroom are the basics for the ground floor. Do you also want a study? What about a utility room or conservatory? Maybe you’d like two lounges; one to entertain guests and one for your home cinema setup? After you’ve decided on the ground floor, think about the first floor. How many bedrooms? Will there be one bathroom? Or do you want an en-suite in the master bedroom? You could opt for a walk-in wardrobe for the master bedroom as well; perhaps even an extra bedroom for guests. If you are on a tight budget and are thinking about buying a relatively small plot of land, you could consider building a second floor and perhaps a usable attic. You may also be interested in incorporating a basement. Once you have the list of rooms you want, you can start thinking about what room goes where. At this point, you will need to enlist some professional help. Hiring an architect to help design the layout is not only incredibly helpful, but also a legal requirement in order to have a building that meets safety regulations. The architect will be able to work with you to create a design that works best for the number of rooms you want, and also advise you on what size property would be best to accommodate everything. Alternatively, you could also look into companies that offer a variety of pre-planned options. Whether you want large or small house plans, you can find a design that suits your needs from their catalog and simply buy the full plan to pass on to your contractors.

Find a plot

Once you have your plan, you need to find somewhere to build it. You should know the footprint of your property, so that gives you an idea of how big a plot you need to accommodate it. At this stage, you should think about whether you want a large front or backyard. Consider your particular needs and wants. Once you know the rough size you are looking for, it’s time to go hunting. If you are a city dweller, you may find it difficult to find a plot of land available. However, some small plots can become available as landowners sell off chunks of their property for aspirational home builders. However, your best opportunity will be to look further out into the suburbs and beyond. When buying a plot of land, it is important to know that it is designated for domestic use and you will be able to gain planning permission to build on it. Agricultural land is much cheaper in comparison, but you will not be able to build a home on it, so beware of buying land like this in the hope you will be able to build. Another option is to buy a property that is incredibly run down or abandoned, and simply tear down the original structure to build your dream home. If you plan to do this, ensure that the property is not protected or that any restrictions are placed on the land with regards to the type of property you will be allowed to build there. Some plots may be restricted to one-storey properties, or buildings must conform to a particular style. Do your research thoroughly before signing over your hard-earned for a plot of land. If, however, you have bought a plot of land that is particularly secluded, be sure to check if you will be able to connect your plot to the local utilities. The most important thing to remember when hunting for a plot of land, is that good plots don’t stay for sale long. You should also be wary of any plots that are too good to be true with regards to their price. Having looked at the plots available in your local area, you should be aware of the average market value. If you find a plot that is half the usual price, it is probably worth avoiding. The chances are that it has very restrictive criteria for any planning permits, or that permission to build will be impossible to gain. Always remember to keep your cool, and make decisions with a clear head, not with an over-emotional heart.

Hire some contractors

So you spent months choosing out your plan, and searching for a decent plot of land to build your dream home on. Now comes the hard part; getting it built. After gaining all the relevant planning permissions, you will need to get someone to lay the foundations. This will involve digging out the specified area in your plot and filling it with concrete. You should ensure that you have all your utilities connected in-between digging the area out and filling it. Also be aware that if you have chosen to have a basement, the foundations will need to be dug considerably deeper to accommodate the below-ground area. You should also bear in mind that foundations will have to be deeper if your building is to be particularly tall. If you are building a one or even a two-storey property, it might be prudent to request that the foundations are strong enough to accommodate an extra level beyond that which you have planned. It shouldn’t cost you too much more, and it will open up possibilities in the future. After this, you will need to negotiate with various contractors along the building phase. A mason will be required to build the skeleton of the property, after which the house may be required to be left for a number of weeks to ‘settle’. From here you will need to ensure that the house is then made safe from the elements by having your windows properly installed. Then you will need to contract an electrician and a plumber to connect your utilities before moving on to the internal finishes. Plasterers and decorators will then make sure your walls are smooth and clean before applying the paint or wallpaper of your choice and laying the flooring. This whole process can take many months, and you should always allow for more time than you originally planned for. Projects like these can have any number of setbacks, such as parts or materials not being ready on time, or bad weather halting the progress of the initial build. Be sure to plan every aspect of the building phase, leaving extra time and budget in between each section of the process. During the research phase, be sure to get in-depth quotes from multiple contractors to ensure you are getting a good deal. If you have prepared and researched well, you will be moving into your brand new dream home before you know it.

Building a house, or commissioning one to be built for you, can be a very stressful project to undertake. But for the brave souls out there who are willing to try, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. You’ll be able to organize your first gathering and open that first bottle of champagne in your new home, knowing that every single detail was carefully thought out and chosen by you; making your home truly one of a kind.

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