Finding a site in the countryside and building a house is a dream for many of us, giving you the opportunity to change both your surroundings and our lifestyle. Read our guide to the key steps involved and how your architect should help along the way.

1. Choose a Site

Ok, so you've found a plot and you want to build your own house. The site may have outline planning permission, full approval or nothing at all.

You should engage the services of a professional at the earliest opportunity, preferably before you complete on the purchase or transfer. They will interpret the planning permission (if available), the planning policy in the local area and advise on sight line requirements and effluent discharge provisions.

Some will be able to provide you with a sketch layout of your idea and guide you through the bidding process as well as look at different sites with you.

2. Design the House

Talk to your architect or designer about the size and style of the house you would like to build, as well as your budget for construction which may or may not include items such as landscaping, kitchen,bathrooms and finishes.

Give them a brief of the accommodation you require as well as any special features you may like have considered.

Your designer will return to you with multiple design concepts and work with you to find the arrangement which best suits you.

3. Getting the Permissions

Once the design has been settled on, it is time to submit the planning permission application.

This should be a relative formality if the right advice has been given early on in the process and a house design consistent with the local planning policy has been achieved. Your architect or consultant will act as your agent throughout the course of the planning application dealing with any issues that arise in a timely manner.

Once planning approval has been granted it is time to complete the detailed drawings for construction and submit to building control for approval. An effluent discharge consent application may also be required for the installation of a septic tank.

All prospective mortgage companies for self builders will require these three approvals together with your architects indemnity insurance details.

4. Tendering

You've got your site, a design you're happy with and all your permissions are now in place - time to get a builder.

A list of 4 or so potential contractors should be drawn up based on recommendations and referrals.

Your architect should also be able to sound each out to ascertain their experience and availability for the project.

Tenders should be sent out giving contractors 4 weeks to make a site visit, meet the parties involved and provide a suitable quotation. Comparison of tenders should then be made and if the price is right, a contractor appointed.

5. Construction

A start date will be agreed with your builder, together with a schedule of works and a payment plan. Payments are usually made once work has reached a certain stage or can be monthly; these are assessed and signed off by your architect, who will notify the mortgage company to arrange funds to be released.

Your architect will monitor construction, adherence to the approved plans and deal with any queries or design changes throughout the build.

They will also liaise with your kitchen designer, bathroom supplier and undertake the paperwork for connections to your utilities.

When construction is complete the house will be signed off by the architect and building control with certification provided by both.

View some examples of new builds in the HR Jess gallery or get in touch if you are ready to start yours.

Not ready to move or interested in improving and extending?

Here are 5 simple ways to add value to your home:

1.   Extend or Upgrade your kitchen

Improving the kitchen is the single most valuable improvement you can make. For a cost-effective solution, use space from adjacent areas or link a dining room to make one combined space.

2. Convert your loft

A loft conversion can be the most cost-effective way to add accommodation, providing you get the positioning of the stairs correct – the key element.

3.  Add a Glazed Extension

Add a space that sits well on the building or relates to an existing space - better use of light will make small spaces feel larger.

4.  External Makeover

Create the right first impression - tidying up your façade and neat landscaping will give your home kerb appeal.

5.  Add a Bedroom

Adding a bedroom tends to carry a disproportionate amount of weight in market value, with the greatest lift in houses with three bedrooms.

For free friendly advice or for inspiration on improving your home, contact HR Jess on 028 9036 4615 or email info@hrjess.co.uk

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If you would like help or advice then please feel free to get in touch.

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