First Steps to Self Building

Fancy building your own home? You’re not the only one.

Real self builders

Self build may seem like a lonely path but an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 self builds are successfully completed each year in the UK.

There would be many more if we weren’t put off by the size and complexity of the task. Common fears include unfamiliarity with construction and the building trade, a belief of not being practical enough, and concerns that our main asset – our home – may be put in jeopardy if things go wrong. Then there is the problem of finding a plot in the area where you wish to live.

Nearly all self builds are undertaken by those who have never built anything before

The good news is that nearly all self builds are undertaken by those who have never built anything before. Most contribute only marginally in practical terms, with their input mainly organisational. 

selfbuilders.jpgUsually existing homeowners, selfbuilders come from all age group. There are couples with young families who are keen to leap two or three rungs up the housing ladder and also empty-nesters and downsizers coming up to retirement, perhaps living in a large family home who would prefer somewhere smaller, easier and cheaper to maintain.

What this disparate group has in common is the ability to organise 

That includes knowing how to work out a budget, how to prioritise, how to negotiate – often the most worrying aspect for the beginner, but a skill that develops with surprising ease – and, perhaps most important of all, knowing how to ask questions. And to go on asking until you get an answer that makes sense! 

All of this can be summed up by the term ‘project management’ – something many of us do all the time in our jobs or social and family lives.

Help for selfbuilders

There is more help available to the selfbuilder than ever before, and not just in terms of information provided by guides like this, but through permanent exhibitions such as the Self Build & Renovation Centre in Swindon, and the host of national and regional self build exhibitions held throughout the year including the SelfBuild & Design shows in Exeter and Peterborough each year.

There are now numerous lenders offering mortgages specifically tailored for self build – gone are the days when a building society or bank would looked askance at anyone trying to finance their own house build. Major builders’ merchants like Jewsons and Travis Perkins and some large regional groups like RBG in southwest England actively court selfbuilders as they are seen to be reliable, well organised, motivated and with a great deal of money to spend.


Still not convinced that you have what it takes? There are dozens of courses where you can learn more. These range from free Self Build Academy days at the Potton show home centre in St Neots to weekend self-build courses at the NSBRC in Swindon.

And there are any number of training academies offering specialist courses for those aiming to take a hands-on role with their build.

See our list of courses and events for selfbuilders that will take place the next 60 days.

So what’s holding you back? Start planning your dream home today with our First Steps guides.