Finance- How to Work it Out

Ron
Ron Beattie

Set the budget Although self-building offers a more affordable route to your dream home, it’s important not to underestimate how much this figure will be. The key is to do your research, set realistic expectations and boundaries, and most importantly, stick to them. It’s easy to get carried away with the planning  of your unique home by adding every conceivable luxury and gadget on the market, but the reality is that it’s vital to plan and calculate, in detail, exactly what you need and how you will be funding the project.

A good old fashioned spreadsheet can work very effectively to keep costs in check across the key areas of: land, labour, materials, finance/professional fees, insurance, utilities, contingency, applications and VAT. Getting accurate figures for these at the very start can make all the difference to the overall project.

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Budget Tracking is an important part of a build project

Need a mortgage?

When it comes to self-build mortgages, there are two types available – arrears and advance. With an advance stage payment mortgage, it may be possible to borrow up to 90% for the land with just outline planning permission. This is an added bonus as some lenders will only lend with detailed planning permission which can take months to arrange and may then consequently restrict the plot opportunities you have. An advance stage payment mortgage also makes buying at auction a possibility and speeds up the process of acquiring a plot, whilst also reducing the deposit required. Further funds are released for the build costs – again up to 90% and money is released ahead of each build stage.

An arrears-based mortgage on the other hand, allows you to receive payments, in stages with each payment being transferred after confirmation that the stage has been completed. But whichever mortgage you select, pinpointing those initial planning and budget costs should ensure you get the best deal for your project.

VAT or no VAT?

Luckily for the majority of self builders, new builds are zero-rated, which means that a VAT registered builder or subcontractor must zero-rate their work and not charge VAT on any labour-only or supply and fix contracts. However, you will have to pay VAT at full rate for the purchase of any materials that the builder makes on their own account with this being largely recoverable at the end of the project.

When it comes to the overall financing of your project, it may seem a minefield of spreadsheets and paperwork but thorough planning and detailed budgeting at the outset will pay dividends in avoiding any nasty surprises along the way, and ensuring you benefit financially from what is likely to be your most valuable asset.

 

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Going for Gold

Ron
Ron Beattie

When it comes to the construction industry and advancements in technology, few can disagree that the ability to build a super energy efficient home is now widely available. But how far do you go? Straw bales, solar panels, underground heat pumps…all have their uses but there is one concept that still holds the gold standard.

Passivhaus (or Passive House) is an advanced low energy construction standard for buildings and by using high performance insulation and making a building completely draught free, it effectively eliminates heat loss to create a building with very low environmental impact. With 90% of your home’s heating coming from ‘passive’ sources such as sunlight, body heat, and even heat from a microwave or hairdryer, it means that traditional heating systems are a thing of the past.

The five key elements of Passivhaus combine good quality design and craftsmanship, superior windows and doors, high levels of insulation, air tightness and mechanical ventilation – all of which set Passivhaus construction apart from standard building regulations.

Superior health and comfort as standard

A Passivhaus is continuously supplied with fresh air via the mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system, which does a far better job of consistently bringing fresh air in than simply opening windows. This has advantages: unlike just opening the windows, fine filters in the ventilation system eliminate humidity and associated mould problems, as well as keeping dirt and pollen out – a blessing for those who suffer from allergies and respiratory problems.

Common myths dispelled!

Yes you can open a window and yes you can have a wood burning stove…and many more traditional features in your Passivhaus, but you’ll probably find the living environment of your home to be just about perfect. Some people are worried about the possible risks of over heating but with good quality design and construction, you will have a very comfortable and consistent ambient temperature, all year round.

We hear from an increasing number of self builders who have looked at all different types of construction methods but having done their research, can’t see why they wouldn’t want to have the best living environment available for their family to enjoy…which Passivhaus provides.

 

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The Best Route for You

Ron
Ron Beattie

The plot is purchased, your designs are ready, but what’s the best route to actually build your home? Fortunately, the beauty of self-build lies in its flexible process, allowing you to choose not only the build method, but also how involved you want to be in the construction of your home.We are seeing a growing number of true self builders who are making the most of self build construction courses which offer an enthusiastic individual the chance to develop the necessary skills to live and breathe the installation of every joist, roof tile, floorboard and window frame in their home. However, whilst not everyone is a proficient DIY fanatic, many still wish to play some part in its construction to enjoy a real sense of self achievement.

Build Route Options:

Route 1 The hands-on approach: project manage and build yourself

Self Build
Project manage it all

Route 2 Half and half: part build or take delivery of the structure to then finish off yourself or with the help of contractors

Half and Half
Work with contractors

Route 3  Full Turnkey: employ a project manager to coordinate the build team and deliver the finished home to you, ready for occupation.

Project Managed
Leave it all to a project manager

However involved you choose to be, the key focus of any self build project remains on creating a unique home that meets your lifestyle needs, and to a large extent your desires, in the most energy efficient way possible.

‘Passivhaus’, ‘Eco homes’, ‘zero carbon’ are all terms that will be familiar regardless of the style and size of home you plan to build, and with limitless energy efficient products such as triple glazing and mechanical ventilation heat recovery being readily available, it’s little wonder that the self build homes under construction both now and in the future, will be the most energy efficient in the country.

When choosing the best route for your own self build, it’s important to consider a build or construction method that will not only meet the criteria of a beady-eyed Building Inspector, but one that offers testing and certification by the company itself.  At Beattie Passive, we test and certify all our weather proof and air tight structures to ensure they are built as designed, to the highest Passivhaus standards, which in turn provides the home owner with a smoother build process and peace of mind at every stage…something of great value during any self build project!

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Designing Your Perfect Self Build

 

Ron
Ron Beattie

At a recent self build showcase event we hosted in Norfolk, it was clear to see the enthusiasm and sheer number of self builders in the East Anglia region, with over 100 visitors attending. Our 1:1 sessions allowed people to bring along their designs and industry experts were on hand to offer vital advice, creating a really positive buzz.

Many had already put together their design plans but for those starting out, when it comes to designing your ideal home, it’s all about getting the right balance between what you really want, with what you can actually have. Naturally there are limits to any self build project usually due to planning, budget, or building regulations but that doesn’t mean you must compromise completely, just adapt here and there to maximise the potential.

Good design is about how your home performs, how the spaces interact and flow together, and also how it meets your needs. We always recommend working with architects, architectural technologists and similarly qualified professionals to help you to achieve the right results. They will also save you time in the long run regarding building regulations and they know what is likely to pass the planners!

Although we regularly work with architects to provide self builders with the complete flexibility on the design for their bespoke homes, another option allows self builders to work with companies such as Beattie Passive who offer a design ‘package’ from a selection of pattern-book designs, most of which have been built before and are customisable to suit your needs.

Wants vs Needs  Start with your physical requirements and let the stylistic decisions flow from here. Number of rooms, sizes and shapes, plus any special features such as a large window to maximise the view. Then decide what you can live without as it’s easy to run away with notions of a cinema room or indoor pool! Think laterally, too, such as do you need space to accommodate audio equipment or a wine cellar?

What are the restrictions? Building Regulations will influence your home’s design but it’s the local planning authority that will have the biggest say in what you can and can’t build. Planners can dictate the materials, size, shape, height and orientation of your home, all of which have a great bearing on its design, so making a first port of call to the planning office will pay dividends to ensure your time is spent on creating a realistic design.

Sympathetic style  a design that is sympathetic to its surroundings is more likely to be approved, so take account of the street setting and vernacular, and whether or not the house is visible from the road. Scale is very important in this aspect, as it can make the house dominate or recede from the neighbouring properties.

Cost effectiveness  Your budget will probably be the main factor that controls what you can and can’t have. Try to make a connection between design features and cost. Over-designed homes are expensive to build and the results sometimes questionable, so be prepared to edit the plans. Conversely, having a limited budget doesn’t have to mean a poorly designed house, but it will require careful planning to make the most of what you have.

Designing your home is the most exciting part of the whole build process and time will be well spent researching your ideal layout to ensure your dream home is exactly that.

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How to find the perfect plot for your self build

Ron
Ron Beattie

It’s an exciting time for self builders. Projects are on the increase across the UK, with the number of self built homes up 6% in 2015, and set to rise again this year. Furthermore, a recent survey commissioned by the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) identified an encouragingly large number of people in the UK not only interested in self build, but actively pursuing their dream:

  • 53% who would like to build their own home
  • 1 in 8 currently researching a self build project
  • 1million+ actively looking for a plot or already involved in a self build project

Source: Ipsos MORI Poll for NaCSBA April 2016

These positive statistics were echoed recently when I attended NaCSBA’s ‘Right to Build Summit’ at the House of Commons to find out what the Government is doing to make self build easier for all of us. The Housing Minister Brandon Lewis was one of the key speakers and commented: “We are committed to helping people build their own home and have ensured councils now have to keep a register of aspiring self and custom house builders when planning for future housing and land use”. Positive signs indeed, but where you do you start?

Finding Your Land

Richard Bacon, MP highlighted at the Selfbuild Showcase at Hethel last week, that the national Self Build Register, as a result of The Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015, is bringing local councils and self builders together.  Websites such as Plot-Search feature thousands of land listings and general property-hunting portals allow you to refine your search to ‘land’. Registering your interest with estate agents (especially independents) in your chosen area remains an effective approach as well as contacting local surveyors and architects.

Ron Article

 

Plots suitable for single houses are regularly sold at auction and it could also be worth tactful leafletting in your chosen area as an owner may not have considered selling an area of their land, but could be more interested in doing so if there is already a buyer ready and waiting.

Planning Permission

It’s vital to consider planning permission in tandem with your choice of plot. Land is available with one of two types of consent in place – outline planning permission (OPP) or detailed planning permission (DPP). OPP is consent in principal for development to occur, leaving some or all of the particulars to be established in a later application for DPP. However, don’t dismiss a plot just because the permitted design doesn’t suit you.  Even if DPP is in place, you can submit a new application for a different design without revoking the existing permission. However, you should avoid buying land without any permission so resist the temptation to buy a cheap plot in the hope that ‘we’ll get planning one day’.

And last but by no means least, talk to the local Planning Department and try to establish a good rapport – an understanding of local planning guidelines and a good relationship can help make the planning process a whole lot smoother!

The Appeal of Self Build

Ron
Ron Beattie

If you’ve ever watched the ultimate self-build projects transform from owner’s dream to splendid reality on ‘Grand Designs’ wishing you had the opportunity to do the same, then there’s never been a better time to take that step.

Here in East Anglia, the region has long been a pioneer and promoter of self and custom builds. Thanks to key figures, including our local MP Richard Bacon, taking the matter to the higher echelons of power and the ongoing work by The National Custom and Self-Build Association (NaCSBA), support is ever-growing with self and custom build homes now being included in the Government’s ‘National Planning Policy Framework’ for the first time. This places a duty on local authorities to keep a register of those seeking an interest in bringing forward self and custom build projects.

It remains to be seen whether this will significantly change the attitudes towards land supply, however it is certainly a step in the right direction with more and more councils looking to launch and pilot such schemes in their areas.

The beauty of self-build

According to NaCSBA there are six million people across the UK who want to build their own home, with one million having already started the planning process. The reasons behind why people choose to self-build are numerous; some focus on the practical side, while others emulate from a more personal level, but which all drive the unique outcome to the process.

  • Total Flexibility
  • Bespoke Design
  • Sustainable Living
  • Budgeting & Affordability
  • Long-term Savings

Up there as many people’s top reason to self-build is the ‘Total Flexibility’ that such a personal project allows. Not only can you individually tailor your initial designs, incorporating the very latest in design styles, fixture and fittings (which usually involves the latest in high tech ‘Bond’ gadgetry), but, and equally important, is the choice of construction as well as how involved you want to be in the overall process.

Other key drivers for self-builders include sustainability and energy efficiency which feature prominently across the design spectrum, from cosy country cottages to imposing sea-view villas. With fuel bills only ever going in one direction, many self-builders are looking to take advantage of the dramatic improvements in building construction methods and materials, such as Passivhaus, to ensure their high quality home performs super efficiently yet still retains all the bespoke elements they desire.

Whatever design and style of building you are looking for and however involved you wish to be, the majority of self-builders that we work with say that it’s been an enjoyable and fulfilling experience, full of highs and lows, with the end result being a home that they not only enjoy living in, but undeniably fills them with a sense of pride and makes the hard work and effort all the more worthwhile.

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Dream Family Home

Here we are again, chatting to another one of our brilliant clients. Today we are with Kevin, the owner of a beautiful 4-bedroom home built on the Isle of Man. Kevin wanted all the things PassivHaus offered, but wanted to stay in keeping with the traditional Manx Vernacular style.

 

Beattie Passive: Hello Kevin, thank you for letting us visit you in your beautiful home.

Kevin: No worries, why wouldn’t I want to show it off? It is amazing!

Beattie Passive: Your story started with a traditional build design but you changed it to PassivHaus, why did you decide to do that?

Kevin: Well, it was James Vickers at Complete Construction Services (CCS) who suggested changing the home to PassivHaus. They had been at the Beattie Passive Training Academy and were able to offer the Beattie Passive build system to us. After a little bit of research and a little bit of convincing to get my wife on board, we went for it. The planners here on the island were so impressed with the concept and design, they pushed the planning through in just a week!

Beattie Passive: Why did you decide to build your own home, rather than buy?

Kevin: We have always wanted to build our own home. We were fortunate enough to own a piece of land on the South of the island that had an existing ruin. We knocked that down and built our PassivHaus.
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The home being made ready for windows and render

Beattie Passive: What was your first impression of PassivHaus when James Vickers from CCS suggested it?

Kevin: Having an engineering background, I was interested from the start.  I did have to convince my wife, who was a bit more hesitant.

Beattie Passive: So, how did you find the design process, working with Beattie Passive, SNX and James Vickers?

Kevin: It worked very well. We already had traditional designs drawn up, but Beattie Passive and the team here could change these quickly and easily. We had no concerns about the change in construction method and it didn’t add any time onto the works.

Beattie Passive: What was the most impressive thing about the build process?

Kevin: The attention to detail. Everything was 100% accurate throughout the whole build. Every joint and every seal. The speed and onsite manufacture were about the same as a traditional build, but the quality and level of workmanship by CCS was impressive.

Beattie Passive: What is it that you are most looking forward to in your new home?

Kevin: Well, as it’s a PassivHaus, we are looking forward to seeing how much energy we save. This is our first proper family home, having lived in a small flat previously. As well as that, being an engineer meant that the technical side interested me from the start.
Slide3
The build team discussing the build

Beattie Passive: What would you say your experience has been like so far, now that you are living in the home?

Kevin: The noise level reductions are so noticeable. We live in a really windy spot overlooking Port St Mary and the triple glazing and overall insulation has been a revelation! Furthermore, the solar panels provide us with the hottest water ever and we’ve noticed the air quality feels so much better inside the home.   

Beattie Passive: Has there been anything that has surprised you about living in a PassivHaus?

Kevin: The overall performance and warmth of the house stays at a constant throughout the year, regardless of the season. Despite looking like a traditional Manx cottage from the outside, the PassivHaus element takes it to another level.

Beattie Passive: Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

Kevin: You know, I had high expectations to start with, but this system has surpassed all those expectations. I knew my bills would be lower than a traditional home, but I was incredibly surprised at the quarterly bill I received for the most demanding Winter months. We’ve also got to look forward to when our solar thermal system takes over the production of all the hot water. Living here now, I don’t understand why all homes are not built like this.
Panorama
The home sits comfortably in its surroundings

 

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Lee’s Top Tips to Self-Build

In today’s interview, we are sitting down with Lee. Lee is the salesperson for Beattie Passive and has deep knowledge in all things Self Build. Let’s get some helpful hints and tips so you can start your Self Build dream.

Lee with background

Beattie Passive: Hi Lee, how are you?

Lee: I’m good, thanks. Eager to give out my helpful hints to those who want that Self Build home.

Beattie Passive: What is the first step in Self Building?

Lee: Well, that would be finding the right plot. Without the plot, you can’t have the home. Thankfully, there are some amazing resources out there to help those looking to secure a plot. Two of my favourites are Plot Finder and Plot Browser. I suggest keeping your mind open to what sort of plot you want. The narrower the search, the more likely the wait. This may cost more money for you overall too.

Beattie Passive: Ok, so I have my plot all ready to go. Now what?

Lee: Funding. How are you going to pay for the build? Most self-builders will have a mortgage in place to fund some if not all the project. Thankfully, there is a great choice in Self Build lenders these days.  Build Store and Mary Riley are two that Beattie Passive clients have used in the past.

Beattie Passive: Are Self Build mortgages different to traditional mortgages?

Lee: Yes, Self-Build mortgages are normally released in stages. When key parts of your build are completed, the next chunk of money will be released. It is important that you arrange your building programme to work with your mortgage. You don’t want to run low on funds half way through.

Beattie Passive: Can I easily change my design if I change my mind or want to add something?

Lee: No. You can obviously change things if you wish, but remember that it will more than likely have a knock-on effect on the build. Even small changes can have a big impact on future costs. Suppliers will speak to you at the earliest possible stage and some very minor amendments can lead to big savings. But remember, once planning is in there is often very little room for changes.

Beattie Passive: Right. My plans are about to go in, but I can’t decide on the external finish of the house. Is it really that important?

Lee: Yes! The external fabric of your house is just as important and the internal. As a self-builder, you will need to stick to a budget, which means you may not be able to have everything you like. It is important to remember that you can work towards your dream home for years to come, but areas like the fabric of the building will be hard to change later. If you get this right first, the rest will follow.

Beattie Passive: How will I know I am getting the best deal on my supplies.

Lee: I always tell Beattie Passive clients to challenge their suppliers and trades people to show them the sites that they are working on and speak to previous clients.

Beattie Passive: Will I need to be on site all the time?

Lee: No, not necessarily. It will be useful to have a site meeting with your trades every week or so. This will help keep things running smooth and enable the handovers from one trade to another, go without a hitch.

Beattie Passive: Is there anything I need to remember while designing and building?

Lee: I always say to assume the worst. Assume that one day your home might flood, or be struck by lightning. How will your building withstand this? Can you make any pre-emptive moves, such as a lightning conductor or flood defences? It may never happen, but it’s good to know that you are prepared.

Beattie Passive: How will I know what’s included?

Lee: Ask. Read the contracts and do your research. The cheapest builder or supplier may leave things out, meaning that you may have to pay a higher price than what you want, or have the money for. Make sure you fully understand what you are and what you are not getting for your money.

Beattie Passive: So, if I go for a good, expensive kit, I should be sorted, right?

Lee: Afraid not. Good kit does not mean a good product. Usually, there will be a product, a designer, and an installer. If one of these areas falls, the knock-on effects may be catastrophic. Make sure that your supplier has a good product and good designers and installers.

Beattie Passive: Does everything need to have guarantees and warranty?

Lee: If you can get a guarantee or warranty, then that would be beneficial. You need to know what assurances are there and if you are getting what you paid for. The performance gap in the construction industry can be huge, don’t fall victim to it.

Beattie Passive: Thanks for chatting to us Lee, hopefully our readers will be able to take their first steps towards building their dream Self Build home.

Lee: No problem, glad I could help. If anyone has any more questions or queries, they can email me at leebroomhall@beattiepassive.com or call us at 08456 449003.

 

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Norfolk Hideaway

Today we’re interviewing the owners of a beautiful coastal PassivHaus. Simon, his partner Mitra and their young son built a 130m2 4 bed home set in the rolling fields, just moments away from the sandy beaches of Norfolk.

Left: the plot where the home was to be built, Right: the finished home

 

Beattie Passive: What led you to Passive House as a construction method?

Simon: For us the question was 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 and Beattie Passive’s method. At the start of the project, we imagined a 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 architects original design and the Beattie Passive system doesn’t dictate the design- it fits in with yours.

Beattie Passive: How and why did you approach Beattie Passive?

Simon: Beattie Passive was recommended to us via 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 reassuring to meet the team.
The weathertight membrane going up.

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

Simon: We think the most interesting element is to see the gulf between a traditional build and what is a more modern approach. Now it seems almost quaint that you would want to build 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 bridging 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 at a minimum and the level of quality can be far better controlled.
Simon, his wife Mitra and their young son outside their home

Beattie Passive: What has been the best/most surprising aspect of the build?

Simon: 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, 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?

Beattie Passive: Have there been any downsides to the project?

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

Beattie Passive: How has the process been on site?

Simon: The process on site has been very smooth. Beattie Passive provided a single point of contact, in our case Benedict, as 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.
One of the rooms inside the home

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

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

Beattie Passive: What do you think about the Air Tightness Results?

Simon: 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 20 times more air. That says a lot about this type of construction method, but also the current building regulations!

Beattie Passive: Thank you for your time, Simon. We hope you enjoy your new home.

Simon: Thankyou.

 

 

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Ron and his Custom Builds

We are sat here with Ron, the Managing Director here at Beattie Passive. Ron is an expert in PassivHaus and in Custom Build. Today we are talking about custom build. What is it? Can anybody do it? Let’s find out.

Ron
Ron Beattie

Beattie Passive: Afternoon Ron, how are we?

Ron: Hello! I’m all right, going to tell you all about Custom Build. It’s really good you know.

Beattie Passive: Ok then, tell me, what exactly is Custom Build?

Ron: Well, Custom Build is a bit different from the usual self-build project. Custom building involves working with a specialist developer to build parts of your project. This could include connecting utilities or sourcing land for you.

Beattie Passive: Who are custom builds for?

Ron: Anyone! They are ideal for those who want to build their own home but may not have the time or expertise to manage a project from start to finish and who wish to have a benefit of a specialist developer working alongside. Furthermore, custom builds can benefit the homeowner who is looking for a quicker route to find land as they will be part of an approved development. This will provide them with initial planning permission and utilities- giving them a head start.

Beattie Passive: Where are these plots in the UK then?

Ron: There are quite a few about the UK. Cherwell and Plymouth are actively engaged in sourcing suitable sites for custom build. Currently the largest custom build is Graven Hill in Oxfordshire. This is going to offer 1,900 units over 190 hectares. Beattie Passive are a part of this and are offering PassivHaus homes across the development.
Graven Hill Logo
Beattie Passive are working with Graven Hill to provide Passivhaus options

 

Beattie Passive: So, you can make things easier by getting a plot at Graven Hill or another site similar and then build a PassivHaus?

Ron: Yes. Best of both worlds. A ready to go plot and a reduced carbon footprint courtesy of Beattie Passive.

 Beattie Passive: Sounds great! But, do the sites come with full planning permission?

Ron: Most will come with full planning permission and conditions on site, type of build etc. The usual regulations will be needed prior to building. Often there will be conditions to buying a plot, so you will have parameters to build in, however, they do still provide an enormous amount of flexibility.

Beattie Passive: Do Custom builds cost more then?

Ron: They may be a bit more expensive as you are buying a plot with the infrastructure already in place. The level of bespoke design will also impact a bit; however, the result is, you purchase and design a home that meets what your needs are rather than an off the shelf ‘’cookie cutter’’ home. Some custom build homes have set design and performance standards ensuring a high quality, energy efficient home. We believe that over the next few years there will be more availability which in turn is likely to ease cost pressures on the plots making the builds much more cost effective.

Beattie Passive: If I want to project manage the build myself, can I?

Ron: This depends on the developer. Beattie Passive allows you to have a choice. You can build the whole home on your own, be the project manager or pass everything over to us and we provide you with a turnkey option. Remember, if you are building yourself, some jobs will need to be carried out by a professional such as the electrics. There are regulations in place and they will be checked by building control. Generally, the level of involvement you have is entirely up to you.

Beattie Passive: So, are Custom Build plots easier if I want to self-build?

Ron: Yes. Custom build takes away a lot of uncertainties and complications in building your own home. Some serviced plots, like Graven Hill, will come with the house built to foundation level. Whilst this is unlikely to limit your design choices, this uncertainty has been resolved.
Graven Hill
An artists mock up of how Graven Hill will look

Beattie Passive: Are there any disadvantages to Custom Building?

Ron: Building a house is complex and you may need professional help. Mistakes can be made if you are not prepared and this can be costly. Background research is vital to avoid any pitfalls. Experts are on hand to help you through this exciting journey. Another point to think about is that the custom build plot is likely to be a part of a 3-4 house estate, right up to hundreds of houses. This means you will have neighbours building for at least a few years, unless you are the last one in!
Graven Hill Location map
Graven Hill is close to the town of Bicester

Beattie Passive: So where can I go if I want to find out more?

Ron: The National Custom and Self Build Association (NCaSBA) is a great information source. Talk to your local authority and register for a self-build or custom plot. The more people who register, the more plots that will be available. Beattie Passive have many years’ experience in Custom Build and we are always happy to discuss projects with you, or answer any questions you may have.

Beattie Passive: Thanks Ron!

Ron: Not a problem. Now, who’s making a cuppa?

 

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