Could building your own home be your next mission?

So, what’s next?…

You’re leaving the Armed Forces behind and beginning the next chapter of your life. You’ll need a new career, a new focus, and a new home… a lot to think about! 

Self-building your own home could be the answer to all of the above and is more achievable than you might think. By utilising the technical and project management skills you’ve gained over your years of service and also making the most of your service gratuities and pension lump sums, if you have one, you can provide a new home for you and your family that is cost effective, tailored to your lifestyle and is a sound financial investment to boot.

Potton, one of the original pioneers of self-building in the UK and the leading name in the industry for over fifty years, is rolling out a new campaign to introduce self-building to service leavers and service personnel. In conjunction with Easy Resettlement Magazine, Potton is hosting a dedicated ‘Armed Forces Insight Day’ through its Self Build Academy in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, later this year or early in 2019. 

The free of charge, one-off workshop will help you to explore the proposition of self-building, guiding you through the various aspects of building your own home. The workshop will include an overview on how to find land; options to finance your build; design; planning and project management.

The event aims to demystify the concept of self-build and is already proving an exciting prospect both at Potton HQ and ER magazine. As such, expressions of interest are currently being sought for the event with the date and further details to follow. As a first within the self-build sector, it could well ignite the beginnings of a new focus for you and your family and building your own home could well become your next challenge.

With your hard earned skill set, accurate execution of process and resolute discipline, you’ll have the perfect grounding to manage a self-build project – no matter the scale. Plus, if you feel the invigoration and fulfilment many enjoy when building their own home, a new job as project manager, helping others to do the same, could be the perfect new career path for you– a little food for thought maybe?

Prior to Potton’s event and to whet the appetite of Service Leavers and Personnel, our brief introduction to self-building might sow some self-building seeds and help you to decide whether it’s for you, or not.

Self-Build Explained
With more than 12,000 people self-building per year, it’s a route to owning your own home that’s becoming ever more popular. 

However, the term self-building doesn’t necessarily define the process accurately, as most ‘self-builders’ don’t actually get their hands dirty – they commission a specialist organisation, like Potton, to help. 

Figures show that only 40% manage the build themselves, tendering and employing the various sub contract trades, 40% employ a professional project manager and the balance contract with a builder to deliver a turnkey service.

Whilst it’s really hard to capture the reasons that motivate people to self-build, for most, the driving factor is to be involved in design and constructing a home that will meet the needs of their family, is of a significantly higher specification and performance than the mainstream market offers and is on a specifically chosen plot of land. The benefits of building your own home are many, including:

• Self-building is the opportunity to create a home that perfectly suits your lifestyle

• It’s the ideal way to create a good quality home on a smaller budget (compared to buying a home of equal finish)

• Most self-builders can make a healthy profit if and when they decided to sell their home

• Building a new home from scratch will net you savings on VAT

• You are your own boss! You can make key decisions on where to spend and where to save.

If you want a home that meets your needs rather than those of a developer, a home that’s energy-efficient, will generate a profit and become your next challenge, then self-building is probably for you.

However, with so many myths surrounding self-building, mostly peddled by TV programmes that focus on never ending jeopardy, it’s hard to understand the realities of self-building. So, let’s tease the facts from some of the fiction:

‘It’s only for the rich!’ Whilst a bit of spare cash does help, it isn’t essential. The misconception that self-building is only for the wealthy few has been the most common and infinitely most stubborn misconceptions over the years. Well, it simply isn’t the case. 

Whilst it’s true, some self-builders do have eye-watering budgets, the average self-builder spends a little over £1,300 /m2 on their new home. So, if you’re building an average four-bedroomed home of, say, 160m2 – that equates to a build spend of £208,000. Add that to the price of your plot of land, which generally runs between £80,000 and £200,000+ depending where in the UK you’re buying, then the figures really do stack up. Building your own, bespoke home is in fact more cost effective than buying a new home from a developer, and, you’ll be keeping the profit (usually between 10-30%). In fact, a recent Homebuilding and Renovating report1, stated that the average self-build project enjoyed a 29% uplift on end value of their property – not bad!

‘You’re bound to go over budget’… Sensationalised by the plethora of TV shows, regularly portraying self-builders going hundreds of thousands of pounds over budget, overspend isn’t always a bad thing. In a self-build project it’s usually down to ‘elective’ extras, which means a change to the original design, choice of materials or added work here or there. Whilst it is an overrun, it’s all agreed and transparent and has happened for positive reasons. To avoid any other type of overspend (the unnecessary nasty bits that can give you sleepless nights) meticulous planning is the key. Your project should have a detailed specification right from the outset and contractors should have a clear understanding of the work expected of them, with decision made upfront and kept to – going over budget is far from inevitable.

‘You’ll never get planning permission’ – Gaining planning permission can be very straight forward as long as you do your homework. It all depends on the individual plot of land and its location. If you’re considering buying a plot of land in the middle of open countryside then you probably won’t gain planning permission for a new house. Whereas if you bought a building plot, then it should already have planning consent for a home or a very good chance of getting it, as it will already be within what’s called the ‘settlement development boundary’ (if it’s in a garden, for example).

Local authorities are more inclined to grant approval for individual homes than they have been in decades and the attitudes to styles have changed too. Making a coherent, logical argument for your new home will help, plus employ the help of an experienced planning team to guide you through the process.

‘Timber frame homes won’t last’ – In fact, timer frame homes are the most heavily engineered buildings of all and as with all forms of construction, including brick and blockwork, there are good and bad examples. It’s important to bear in mind though that some of the oldest buildings still standing in the UK are timber framed.

There are many more misconceptions out there, lurking to form ‘wannabe self-builders’ opinion but Potton is determined to put the record straight.

Whilst Potton specialises in designing beautifully tailored timber framed homes for self-builders, it is so much more than a kit home or flat pack provider. Potton offers a bespoke design, planning and build service with a team of Self-Build Consultants, Architects, Designers and Planning Specialists always on hand. However, Potton also provides a host of free of charge masterclasses and workshops at its Self Build Academy that get right down to the nitty gritty of self-building. They are so passionate about educating self-builders – whether they’re building with Potton or not – their courses have become acclaimed throughout the industry. Potton prides itself on giving you fact – the hard and fast truth about self-building. 

The Self Build Academy is located at Potton’s Self Build Show Centre in St Neots, Cambridgeshire. The Self Build Centre is the only one of its kind in the UK and has five stunning show homes on the site to explore and get your self-build juices flowing – definitely worth a visit if nothing else.

So, if you’re at the stage where you’re thinking about life outside the Armed Forces, whether you’re facing the next stage of your life with elation or trepidation, it might be worth registering your interest to be part of Potton’s dedicated ‘Armed Forces Insight Day’. The day will be pretty informal, with Potton’s trademark ‘relaxed yet impactful’ style putting everyone at their ease. Plus there’ll be coffee and cakes aplenty! What’s to lose?

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