For many Britons the idea of designing and building a home of our own can seem an alien and rather frightening concept. It's the sort of project usually reserved for those who have deep pockets and don't mind standing out from the crowd - star footballers, captains of industry, famous actors.
Either that, or it's a specialised task for those in the know, which generally means building professionals - builders, architects - people who are familiar with the tricks of the trade and can bring in professional friends, workmates and family members to help them out.
Why do we think like this? Most of our continental neighbours, particularly the Germans and Austrians, certainly don't. Neither do the Americans, Australians and Japanese. But then they haven't been spoon fed by a commercial housebuilding industry for over a century.
The result is that, for the great majority of Britons, acquiring a new home means buying somebody else's idea of what that home should be. Our choice of internal layout, orientation and overall design is actually quite restricted.
Not surprisingly, our first reaction on moving in is to redecorate, and re-model to suit our individual needs. We create through lounges, expand kitchens, add on conservatories, convert lofts.
One result, of course, is a booming home improvement industry. The other is to massively inflate the cost - in time and effort as well as cash - of homeowning.
Selfbuilding is a way of cutting short that process by giving us exactly what we want straight off: a home built the way we want, hopefully in the place where we want it. It's about taking control of how and where we live.
Take a look at our selection of Beginner's Guides available to view on this website:
A Beginner's Guide to Kitchen Design
A Beginner's Guide to Building Your Own Home (In Full)
For many Britons the idea of designing and building a home of our own can seem an alien and rather frightening concept. It’s the sort of project usually reserved for those who have deep pockets and don’t mind standing out from the crowd –
star footballers, captains of industry, famous actors.
A Beginners' Guide to Timber Frame
Timber frame is the most widely used construction method in the developed world and tends to dominate in colder climates. In Scotland more than 75 per cent of selfbuilders use this method, and around one in four new homes built in England are timber-framed.
A Beginner's Guide to Basements & Underground Homes
Building an extension may be the obvious way to add extra living space to your home, but extending outwards will result in a loss of valuable garden. A growing trend is to create additional accommodation beneath a house by either enlarging an existing cellar or creating a brand new basement, which may be used for anything from a home office to a gym, TV den or open-plan kitchen/family room.
A Beginner's Guide to Good House Design
When it comes to planning a new home, inspiration can come from the most surprising and unexpected sources.
The problem for most selfbuilders today is that there is just too much choice. When it comes to designing your dream home should you opt for a comfortingly traditional cottage or go all out with a jaw-dropping avant-garde creation?
A Beginner's Guide to Eco-Friendly Homes
We may all want to do our bit for the environment but just how much is enough? What are the options, how much does it cost, and what are the payback times?
A Beginner's Guide to Finishing Touches
A self build project can become so overwhelming that the finishing touches which make or break a design can be overlooked.
Sometimes we all get so caught up in the bigger picture that it can be difficult to find time for the details. Who cares what the guttering looks like if the planners can’t agree on a suitable roof tile, and what does it matter if the kitchen cupboard handles are boring as long as the project comes in under budget?
A Beginner's Guide to Home Heating
With the huge increase in fuel costs in recent years, along with new government incentives favouring renewable energy, choosing your heating system is more important than ever. In the first of a two part series, we look at how to choose a heating system and the various fuel options. Next month we look at ways to distribute that heat.
Beginner's Guide to Oak Frames
Oak framing is a time-honoured building method which is enjoying a relatively recent revival and is a firm favourite with selfbuilders.
Oak framed houses have long been admired for their beauty and structural integrity, and building a new oak framed house would seem to offer the perfect compromise – combining modern building materials with the instant character provided by exposed beams and timbers.
A Beginner's Guide to Reclamation
Recycling has become a popular and necessary trend, but it need not simply constitute a bi-monthly trip to the bottle bank. New houses or conversions may be built using demolition salvage and fitted out with architectural antiques to add instant character.
A Beginner's Guide to Renovation
Renovating an existing property can be fraught with hidden pitfalls and unforeseen costs, but with care and imagination a tired and dated house can be totally transformed into a comfrotable energy-efficient home.
A Beginner's Guide to Roofing
Whether traditional slate, thatch or contemporary metal, the roof of a house is always one of the most important elements in terms of both cost and appearance.
"Spend the money on the roof” is a favourite piece of advice from architects which is well worth taking.