Land 101: Finding the perfect plot

Finding a plot of land to build on is the crucial first step towards building your dream home. While plots of land for building may sometimes be difficult to find, don’t lose hope! On average, as many as 13,000 people every year are able to build their own home. Here are some of our top tips for finding a good plot.

  1. Narrow down your options – deciding where you want to build

Weston Longville 001The UK is a big place, and a countrywide plot search would probably be quite overwhelming and would stretch your resources too thin. It goes without saying then that it is a good idea to decide on at least a couple of ideal locations to build your new home before you start. This will keep you focussed and help you identify sites that are at a distance away from major roads, schools, shops or other amenities that suits you. Search the area and keep an eye out for suitable build sites, including disused sites and even plots with a damaged/abandoned building which could potentially be demolished to make room for your new home. It is important to be open minded though and keep a few areas in mind in case it turns out that there are no plots available in the area you are searching in.

  1. Go digital! Online land databases

There are now a number of useful websites you can use to find plots of land to build on. Websites such as www.plotsearch.buildstore.co.uk, www.plotbrowser.com or www.plotfinder.net feature thousands of land listings, and general property hunting portals allow you to refine your search. Registration to these sites is usually free of charge and can be a good way to get an idea of the different kinds of plots available and help you decide on the kind of plot you need to build the house that you want.

  1. Get help from local professionals

Estate Agents, local surveyors, architects and auctioneers can all be worth talking to in your search for the perfect plot. While not every Estate Agent will sell land, local agents, especially those who run property auctions, are likely to be able to help. Surveyors and architects in the local area will be able to tell you about new plots cropping up. Land auctions are also a good place to go as selling plots to build on is the name of the game!

  1. The Right to Build Portal

Chediston2.jpg

Right to Build legislation was introduced by the government in 2016, and this places a legal obligation on local councils in England to make plots available for people wishing to build their own homes.

You can register your interest with local authorities using the Right to Build portal at https://nacsba.org.uk/campaigns/right-to-build-portal/, and you can sign up for any number of registers if you are interested in a few different locations. The Council in question will then have three years from the date of your registration to make land available, with planning permission, to fulfil self-build demand.

The drawbacks are that the plot may not be exactly what you envisioned, as well as the three-year wait, however registering can be useful as it obliges councils to make more land available for aspiring self-builders like you.

  1. Brownfield land registers

‘Brownfield’ refers to a site that has already been developed and is now for whatever reason no longer in use. These kinds of plots may typically be more expensive overall as you will need to take responsibility for clearing the site and making it ready to build on, including any demolition work, however these plots can appear in areas where space is otherwise limited or where planning permission might be difficult to obtain, and these sites are also less attractive to other potential self-builders looking for a typical greenfield plot, meaning less competition for you.

A word about Planning Permission

Planning permission is a legal necessity in order to be able to start building your home, and obtaining it can be a lengthy, complicated process. Where possible, try to make sure that the land you are buying already has planning permission. If your perfect plot of land doesn’t have pre-approved planning permission, you can research the planning history of the plot on the local council’s website, and it might be advisable to also arrange a meeting with a local planning officer, who can help you understand the local planning policy, and help you assess your chances of securing planning permission for your desired plot.

How to get started on your self-build

Many of us have dreamt of building our own perfect home. What you may not know is that this is becoming more and more common, with more support becoming available for self-builders. This means that building your own home may not be as far away as you might think! Here are some of our top tips to help you get informed and hopefully get started!

cropped-img_47561.jpg

Land: Finding the right plot

Finding land for self-building is increasingly becoming easier – there are some great online resources to help you find the perfect plot. www.plotbrowser.com and www.plotfinder.net are some great examples, and signing up to the self-build register will show local government that self-build is more in demand, thus making it more likely that more self-build plots become available. The key element to securing a plot is flexibility; go into it with an open mind and keep your options open in terms of location, size and landscape, the quicker your search will be and the less you will end up paying. This is where a good imagination and being able to see the potential of a plot can help.

Funding and finances

For many self-builders, a mortgage will be required to fund some, if not all, of the project. Much like finding a plot, there is an increasing number of online resources that can help: www.buildstore.co.uk and www.maryrileysolutions.co.uk are just two of the lenders that previous Beattie Passive clients have worked with, and there are many more. Payments from self-build mortgages will often be made in stages and released upon reaching key milestones in the project. It is very important when arranging your build programme that it works with your mortgage and you don’t find yourself running short of funds in the middle of the project. It is also important to keep your finances on track during the build, and you can find some of our top tips to keeping your budget on track in a previous article.

Get your team in order

Building your own home will doubtless involve a lot of other people, and it’s important to get your team right to make the process go as smoothly as possible. Seeking help from consultants as early as possible can help you avoid bigger costs down the line by helping you identify potential issues early and fix them before they escalate, or before planning permission is submitted. Various suppliers and tradespeople will also be required to provide the materials, build the structure, fit your bathroom, hook up the plumbing and electricity, decorate your home, and so on. Over the course of building your home there may be lots of tradespeople on site at various times, so ensuring that there are processes in place for trades to hand over to one another will help build progress smoothly. Regular site meetings to discuss the build programme and trade cross overs can prove invaluable.

Group photo at Graven Hll

Fabric First – and future proofing your home

As a self-builder, you need to stick to a budget, which unfortunately might mean that you may not be able to incorporate everything you would like on your first pass. However, it is important to remember that you can continue to work towards your dream home for years to come. Some aspects like your building fabric are far trickier to upgrade later. Get this right first, and the rest will follow. See our top tips to keeping your budget on track.

Testing and guarantees

Has the product or service you are buying been properly tested and guaranteed, so that you know you’re getting what you pay for? The performance gap in the construction industry is notoriously large so always be careful to use suppliers or products you trust. Beattie Passive inspect and independently performance test every house that we build – we carry out stringent airtightness and thermal imaging tests on completion to ensure that our superior build standard is met and only certify once they are. These tests mean that, if you decide on a Beattie Passive build, you can be sure that you will always get the high quality that you expect.

Chediston2

How you can get started

At Beattie Passive, we offer a few flexible options for delivery, to help you make your dream home a reality:

 

  1. Passivhaus Design and Technical

We take your architects plans and use our innovative 3D modelling software to provide you with complete design and technical information to deliver your new home. We will fully test the structure once complete to ensure that it meets the high standards of Passivhaus and that your home performs as it was designed. If you want to get stuck in yourself, our Training Academy offers a five-day course that will provide you with the skills and knowledge to complete the structure yourself.

  1. Structural Thermal Envelope

We provide the design and technical information as above, but in addition we will manufacture the structural thermal envelope in our factory in Norfolk, and deliver to site and erect a fully tested structural thermal envelope, which is both weathertight and airtight, ready for you to complete.

  1. Turnkey solution with project management

We can project manage the entire build process from start to finish. We liaise with architects and building inspectors as well as the full range of suppliers to deliver your stunning new Passivhaus home, ready for occupation.

How a Passivhaus can keep you warm and snug over Christmas

Christmas is approaching, the nights are drawing in and the weather is getting colder. This can often be an expensive time of year as the house gets colder and the heating needs to come on more and more to compensate. The good news is, there is a way to greatly reduce your heating needs (and hence, energy bills) in the winter months, called Passivhaus.

Passivhaus is often considered the Gold Standard of comfortable, energy efficient living. This is because nearly all aspects of a Passivhaus build are designed to maximise heat retention:

High-quality thermal insulation: Continuous ‘super insulation’ ensures that the home is well-insulated from the floor, to the walls and the roof. Cold bridges (areas of high thermal conductivity allowing heat transfer to the outside) are completely eliminated, keeping the heat locked in and the cold air from outside out.

Airtightness: Airtightness is an essential part of Passivhaus builds. The Passivhaus requirement for airtightness is incredibly stringent, at no more than 0.6 air changes per hour. A high airtightness value further reduces heat loss as cold air cannot leak into your home from the outside, and the warm air does not escape as quickly, therefore you are not continually reheating the air in your home.

Windows and Doors: Homes can lose up to 10% of their heat through conventional windows. Passivhaus certified windows are triple-glazed, with Argon gas between the panes to prevent heat loss via radiation through the glazing. They have an airtight seal around them to stop air leakage around the frame. Finally, they are carefully designed to ensure that all thermal bridges are eliminated, removing the risk of losing heat through cold bridges.

Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery unit (MVHR): The lynchpin of every Passivhaus build, this is what makes Passivhaus work. Given that the airtightness of a Passive property is so good, the MVHR unit is necessary to provide a constant stream of fresh air into the property, while removing the stale air from the house at the same time. The Heat Recovery part transfers most of the warmth of the outgoing air into the incoming fresh air, keeping the house at a constant comfortable temperature throughout, come rain or shine (or snow)!

In these ways, Passivhaus proves to be the best, eco-friendly way to keep your home comfortable and warm throughout the winter months, even without the necessity of a traditional central heating system (although at least one radiator recommended for especially cold weather!). Some of our Passivhaus clients are even donating their winter fuel payments to charity, as their heating bills are so low!

The fabric-first approach of Passivhaus means you can have an energy efficient, home that stays a comfortable, constant temperature all year around without costing the Earth. If a self-build is one of your goals for 2020, then it is definitely worth considering how Passivhaus could enhance your comfort and reduce your energy bills and carbon footprint.

Braemar Case Study

Braemar front.JPG

“It is very comfortable, and always a nice temperature throughout the house – I am enjoying the warmth during the Winter months.” – Neil Caple

Interview with the client – Neil Caple

Why did you choose to build your own home?

When the time came for my wife and I to move house, we had seen television shows about self-building and thought, why buy someone else’s house when we could build our own? So we decided to build our own home.

What led you to selecting Passivhaus as a construction method?

Again it was when we were watching television shows that we found out about Passivhaus, and when it was time to start planning our build, it made sense to build our new home as energy efficient as possible. As this is our retirement home, we thought we would invest a little bit more to build a Passivhaus that could keep costs down, rather than building with a cheaper system but then spending more on running and maintaining it.

How did you find the building process?

Generally the build process went very well. Any problems that arose were dealt with very quickly and professionally and overall it ran smoothly.

How did you find working with Stewart and Shields (Beattie Passive Flying Factory Partner)?

My relationship with Stewart and Shields was very good, they are incredibly competent and very good at what they do. They got on with my architect and they worked well together. In addition, they were always responsive to my needs throughout the project. I would recommend them to other self-builders.

What do you like best about your new home?

It is very comfortable, and always a nice temperature throughout the house – I am enjoying the warmth during the winter months. In extremely hot weather during the summer, it can get a bit hot but this is easily fixed just by opening a couple of windows.

Have you noticed any of the benefits of Passivhaus whilst you’ve been living in your new home?

Yes definitely. As I said it is always a comfortable temperature throughout the house as it regulates itself. It also feels quite light and airy due to my MVHR constantly providing fresh air throughout the property. I also sometimes get passers-by looking at my house with admiration, which is quite nice!

 

Graven Hill Coach House Case Study

Erlind Coach House

“The new triple-glazed windows are excellent for noise cancellation – I shut my windows and I can’t hear anything from outside, even with builders all around the house!”

Interview with the client Erlind Hoxha

What made you choose Graven Hill?

I was initially attracted to Graven Hill because the proximity of the train station nearby made it a very convenient location for me.

What attracted you to the Coach House design?

I loved the modern design and the contemporary aesthetic – its the building style of the future! It was much more interesting to me than the boring, old-fashioned red brick houses. It was also way under budget for me, and I really feel like it was a fantastic offer for the price.

What do you like best about your new home?

The MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery) system, I like it a lot. I really appreciate the cleaner air! I also love how energy efficient the house is as this was an important factor for me. Its much  bigger than I thought as well; its a one-bedroom house but I could very easily turn the office into a second bedroom if I ever need it.

Did you know anything about Passivhaus prior to enquiring about the Coach House?

I’d heard about eco-houses and things like that before but I have to be honest I didn’t know that much about Passivhaus or the Beattie Passive system. However after doing my research, I was very impressed with how energy efficient a Passivhaus is, and so become more interested in owning a Passivhaus home.

Have you noticed any of the benefits of Passivhaus during the short while you have been in your new home?

The bills! I’ve not been here for long, but already I’ve noticed a significant reduction in my gas bill. The new triple-glazed windows are excellent for noise cancellation – I shut my windows and I can’t hear anything from outside, even with builders all around the house! I’ve also noticed that, with the MVHR, bad smells from cooking and condensation in the bathroom are removed so quickly and these are never a problem anymore.

Any additional benefits you have experienced?

At some point in the future, I would like to build an extension onto my home. That’s why the Beattie Passive system is so good – I know the house was built in a way to make future work like this easy to accommodate.

Timber frame

“I love the modern design and the contemporary aesthetic – its the building style of the future! I really feel like it was a fantastic offer for the price.”

 

Ways to keep your self-build budget on track

With every self build project there is the temptation to over-spend. After all, you usually only get one chance to build your dream home, so where’s the harm in a little bit extra here and there? Well, here are some of our top tips to rein you back in!

002-coins-1Decide on your budget beforehand and build to it – the most important first step is to decide how much you want to spend on your build. Setting a realistic budget will help you plan your spending and manage your money throughout the process.

Review the budget at each stage – as the project progresses, you may find that spending priorities change, so it is important to regularly review and potentially rework your budget to ensure that it continues to stay on track.

Keep cost savings aside – if you find that you have underspent on a particular element it can be a nice surprise. As you’ve already budgeted this money away, it’s tempting to use the extra cash to treat yourself. However, prices can fluctuate unexpectedly, mistakes in the building can happen, so putting those savings aside can help against any unexpected costs.

Always add a contingency for emergencies – there is always something that doesn’t quite go to plan and if you find yourself unprepared, it could end up costing you a whole lot more. So we strongly recommend to reserve at least 5-10% of your budget as contingency. Being prepared for the worst will help to ensure you don’t end up too far out of pocket.

Funding

Get quotes and solid costs before committing – a quote is an agreed, fixed price for a particular project and is legally binding. Therefore, getting quotes in advance will fix the price of the materials or projects being undertaken, thereby giving you a better idea of the exact costs before you start. Shop around and get quotes from several different suppliers and contractors to make sure you are getting the best value for your money.

Never be afraid to go back to the drawing board – if anything is starting to get out of hand cost-wise, don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board to rework or redesign as often there is a cheaper, more effective solution that can be found.

Watch out for hidden extras – there can be many in construction, e.g. utility connections, landscaping, insurance etc. Getting the correct investigations done early will help you minimise additional costs and where costs are unavoidable, ensure these are fixed and agreed in writing, to avoid any unwelcome surprises.

001-coinsAvoid the sunk costs – a cost that has already been incurred cannot be recovered and doing proper research beforehand will help you avoid these. For example, tools might be cheaper to buy and then sell on later when you no longer need them.

Whatever your budget size a project is likely to throw up some curveballs so being prepared for every eventuality will help ease the process and give you the desired end result: the dream home you’ve always wanted.

Find our other articles on the EDP Self-Build Column.

Healthy Living with Passivhaus

When planning a self build project, it is easy to focus on the style and layout ideas that drive our desire to create our own bespoke homes. But when it comes to our own health, this may not be a natural priority, or even part of the initial thought process. However it should be a key part of the decision as Passivhaus living offers so much.

Healthy living blog pic

For the vast majority, designing and building their dream home is a long term lifestyle change, thereby creating the opportunity to live in the ‘perfect’ environment for as long as possible. The main change to this status quo is usually health related hence many self builders plan for the future by incorporating practical elements such as single storey living. But there are other ways to help keep healthy whilst in your home, thereby enjoying it for longer, and this is a fundamental part of Passivhaus and why it offers so many additional benefits than simply a high performance, energy efficient construction method.

So how does Passivhaus help improve your health? Not only will Passivhaus reduce your overall energy demand through increased insulation and high levels of air-tightness, it offers a consistently warm, clean and comfortable indoor air environment, reducing respiratory issues, impacts of cold home syndrome and even the effect of radon.

As the solution to the ventilation needs of energy efficient buildings, installing a Mechanical Heat Recovery Ventilation system works quite simply by extracting the air from the polluted sources e.g. kitchen and bathroom and supplying fresh air back to the ‘living’ areas e.g. bedrooms and reception rooms, all through a central heat exchanger.

Living with fresh, filtered air aids health related illness such as asthma and protects against pollutants such as mould, CO2, smoke, humidity and hay fever, as well as also reducing the overall level of dust in the house. Respiratory health concerns have long been associated with inappropriate building design with an estimated 29,000 people a year dying in the UK due to air pollution and around 1 in 18 dwellings in England have significant damp and mould issues, so it’s evident that things need to change.

It may be little known, but another health related issue to factor into any new self build is Radon. A naturally occurring radioactive gas present to some extent, in all rocks underground foundations, which with prolonged exposure to high levels, can cause lung cancer. Each year approximately 1,100 deaths in the UK are linked to radon exposure in the home, which is why at Beattie Passive we go the extra mile to protect against the effects of radon exposure, regardless of how small the level, with the inclusion of a protective radon membrane as standard in all our homes.

When it comes to designing your dream self build, we passionately believe that a building should offer its occupants more than just a “roof over their heads”; it should protect you from external influences which may adversely affect your well-being and actively promote good health.

Read this blog on the EDP website.

Waxham, Norfolk Holiday Home

“Beattie Passive combined new ways of working with traditional values of good
workmanship”

The 130m2 single storey 4 bedroom home is based in a secluded seaside location off a private track in the idyllic Norfolk countryside.

1. What led you to choose Passivhaus as the construction method?

For us the question became not why would we build to the Passivhaus method but more ‘why wouldn’t we?’ As we looked at the costs, there wasn’t really much difference between a more traditional method of construction and Beattie Passive’s. At the start of
the project we imagined a fairly well insulated house, coupled with something like a heat pump, but then it occurred to us that systems like heat pumps, while interesting, are aimed at fixing an issue i.e. heating the house, that doesn’t really need to exist in the first
place. We concluded that the investment should be in the super-insulated fabric and not questionable eco-gadgets, such as heat pumps, or long term costs like fuel. The other important aspect was keeping the architect’s original design and the Beattie Passive
system doesn’t dictate the design – it fits in with yours. 

“The air tightness result was really impressive although not unexpected given the rigorous approach applied by Beattie Passive”

2. How and why did you approach Beattie Passive?

Beattie Passive was recommended by Mole Architects as they had worked with them on
a project previously. Although a first hand recommendation is valuable we still wanted to know more about the company. We found the company to be really open. In the first instance we visited the offices in Hethel and met the team. While the house was being fabricated, I went to the production facility and met the team there. While this isn’t a ‘hands-on’ build I was keen to see the process in action and to meet the people involved. I appreciated the open approach and it was re-assuring to meet the team.

Simon Fenn
The family outside the completed structural thermal envelope, ready to be finished.

3. What has been the most interesting aspect of having both a Passivhaus and the system from Beattie Passive?

We think the most interesting element is to see the gulf between a traditional build and what is a more modern approach. Now it almost seems quaint that you would want to built a ‘traditional’ house with bricks and mortar, especially knowing that the end result is going to be way behind a Passivhaus in terms of running costs but more importantly in
terms of comfort. The Beattie Passive approach, with the emphasis on air tightness, super insulation and the elimination of thermal bridges, is really the way forward. It is also better to have as much done in the factory as possible because the time on site is
kept to a minimum and the level of quality can be far better controlled.

4. What has been the best/most surprising aspect of the build?

Perhaps the most surprising aspect was to see how quickly the structure went up. It was very quick once the groundworks were done. The other surprising thing is, if it is so easy and cost effective to build houses that essentially don’t require heating why isn’t it mandatory? Given the emphasis on complex and expensive solutions to climate change, why are obvious ones like this not given more prominence?

5. Have there been any downsides to the project?

The only downsides are quite minor. Because the fabric has to be kept airtight there are elements like a stove where you have to put in pipes very early and this has involved a fair bit of coordination. Of course you don’t actually need a stove to heat the house but
we wanted one to give the house a cosy feel.

DSCF1581

6. How has the process been on site?

The process on site has been very smooth. Beattie Passive provide a single point of contact, in our case Benedict, the Project Manager. This made the process very straightforward because we could go to Benedict with any questions or concerns. On site there was a site foreman, Steve, who led a small team. On site visits Steve was always available to talk us through what had been happening. We felt that Beattie Passive combined new ways of working with traditional values of good workmanship and actually caring about what they were doing.

7. Which aspects are you looking forward to most once the build is completed, due to it being a Passivhaus?

We are looking forward to the low running costs. We anticipate that it will be an extremely comfortable house to live in.

8. Air tightness result

The air tightness result was really impressive although not unexpected given the rigorous approach applied by Beattie Passive. If the house was built to current Building Regulations standards then the house would be leaking around 20 times more air. That says a lot about this type of construction method but also the current Building Regulations!

Technical Specifications:

Wall U-Value: 0.11 W/m2k

Roof U-Value: 0.11 W/m2k

Ground Floor: 0.11 W/m2k

Air Tightness: 0.309 m3/h/m2@50pa, 0.52 ach, n50

The Toolshed Case Study

Beattie Passive are passionate about skills development and training

Training and skills development is central to the delivery of Beattie Passive. The system has been designed so that it is very simple and can be built with semi-skilled labour. Local labour can be sourced and trained locally, which results in both social and economic benefits for the local community.

Working with The Toolshed

Tool+shed-+final+Logo

The Toolshed is part of a social enterprise education provision managed by The New Meaning Foundation, part of a not-for-profit organisation. The Toolshed teaches and encourages young people to learn new skills and help them develop confidence, self-belief and to gain life skills.

Beattie Passive has provided training for 5 young people at their Training Academy in Norfolk on a workshopbased training course to learn how to manufacture and construct the timber frame structure to the exacting standard of the Beattie Passive build system.

Following on from the workshop based training, the trainees developed their skills on-site though erecting units at the Graven Hill Custom Build project in Oxfordshire.

This has provided them with the skills and knowledge to erect their own Beattie Passive homes for their clients. From early 2019 The Toolshed will be manufacturing and erecting homes for the Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust.

Q+A with The Toolshed supervisor and two of the trainees

Andy (A): Supervisor, Dennis (D): Trainee, Mason (M): Trainee

What made you decide to get involved with training in construction?

A: I have been working in the Construction Industry for 28 years, so I was keen to volunteer to support the team and help the youngsters progress and develop new skills.

M: I was naughty at school and was the class clown. I went to college to do brick laying but I got bored quickly. I was then referred to The Toolshed due to my interest in chippy work and it all started from there.

Why did you choose the Beattie Passive system?

A: The college saw it as a fantastic opportunity to feed our students into a system with a growing business. Beattie Passive was selected for its innovative build system and incredible potential in the construction market.

M: I was interested in this specific training as I saw it as a new opportunity and a new system that I could get involved in.

How did you find the training at the academy in Norfolk and the on-site training at Graven Hill?

A: The course gave a fascinating insight into how the system works and its importance of reducing heating costs. John (Beattie Passive Trainer) was a fantastic teacher and has a great work ethic of always striving to do it better. All the students enjoyed the training in Norfolk. The course was really informative and a fundamental part of the training. John also taught the students how to communicate with teams on a construction site, which is always a key skill.

D: John was excellent, he is a very good teacher, the training covered everything on the build system and key details. It was great to see the training through to completion at Graven Hill – a great sense of achievement.

M: The training manuals are really good, I always look back at them to refresh my memory.

How easy did you find the Beattie Passive system to build?

A: The team all found the system fairly easy to build despite their lack of previous experience. John took time to show us how and why the system works.

M: Before the training I would have struggled. I can now understand drawings, understand the principles of the system and have learnt a great deal about not just Beattie Passive but building in general.

Did you feel that you and the other trainees had the correct skills to be able to complete the course?

A: : I have been in construction industry for 28 years but there is always some fine tuning and new things to learn, especially when delivering Passivhaus.

D: I previously had very limited and basic joinery skills, but with the training and guidance I have received I can now build a Passive house – this feels like a great achievement. I am very proud of what I have learnt.

How do you think you will take what you have learned forward in the future?

A: By encouraging trainees to carry on what they are doing and develop their knowledge in the future.

D: I’d like to carry on building Beattie Passive houses and hopefully one day be able to train others to do so.

M: Build more Beattie Passive houses in the future.

Would you recommend this system to others?

A: Yes, the system is easy to follow, uses less tools and is a cleaner trade. I would highly recommend the training, which explains why the process works and crucially how to create an airtight structure.

D: Yes 100%, as I had no background in construction, I would say it’s been a great help and I now feel confident that I could build more Beattie Passive homes.

M: Definitely! The training made building so simple but to the highest standard. I couldn’t have done it without the training but now I’m really confident in what I am doing. If I can do it anyone can!

 

Ever wondered how you can future-proof your self-build home?

This week, Ron Beattie looks at how more and more self-builders are looking to the future when they build their home.

In 2017 a consumer survey of 500 self builders, who had either just completed or were about to complete their project, was conducted by Homebuilding & Renovating, which found that the average age of self builders had risen by 5 years over the past decade and now sat at 51, with the most common age group for self builders being between 55 and 64.

This is perhaps not a huge surprise given this age range usuall20190426_122611y has accumulated equity over time and would be in a good financial position to undertake a self build project with an expectation of spending around 20-30 years enjoying life in their dream home.

Considerations in design at this stage of life can centre around layout and aesthetics as well as using the latest technology and innovation to create bespoke energy efficient homes which are totally unique but it also begs the question of should a home at this stage of your life be future-proofed?

We have many clients who are looking to build their dream home, on the perfect plot with notions of staying there for as long as possible. So this inevitably leads to making conscious design decisions that will allow them to stay in the home, combining creative design with the necessary practicalities.

Lift installOne such client has recently moved into her two storey Passivhaus and took future proofing very seriously as she has no intention of moving any time soon! The design stage was very thorough, working closely with her architect to incorporate stylish yet practical elements into the home, which would not look out of place in a striking new build. Key elements included the all important lift, as the house is primarily focused on upstairs living to take advantage of the fantastic views, so being able to access both floors very easily was paramount. Also, the living / dining / kitchen area is open plan allowing for plenty of space between each area, with doors wide enough for a wheelchair, should one ever become necessary. Furthermore, the downstairs accommodation includes a guest bedroom and bathroom which is perfect for visiting family and friends, yet could easily become self-contained for a live-in carer in later years.

The design options for future proofing run into the hundreds so there are many to choose from depending on your own circumstances, but incorporating a few key elements from the start of the design process will of course eliminate any major restructuring in later years should accessibility become an issue. This is the joy of designing your own home, every possible outcome can be considered and incorporated if required, and all adds to the ease of living long term in your dream home.

Read the blog on the EDP property website.