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Tips For Those Planning to Self-Build

In the modern technological world where things are constantly changing, evolving and trying to improve to become better, it seems like you can’t own a phone or a laptop for three months without it becoming obsolete. It seems like in the past few years the same rule of ‘newer is better’ seems to apply to houses as well. There has been a rise in popularity of buying run down old homes in ideal locations, demolishing them and then building entirely new, state of the art home designs, which sends the property value near enough skyrocketing. Plus with TV shows like Grand Designs and The Property Ladder it is no surprise that many real-estate developers are buying up dilapidated houses and rebuilding them to sell on.


Although there are still plenty of empty plots out there for sale, it is becoming far less common to see them on estate agents’ websites than older houses and run down houses desperately in need of renovations. However it is important to remember that there are a multitude of things to consider in a self-build, from the planning permissions to the location to the estimated build time.

Location, Location

The planning policies differ entirely dependent on where your prospective new property is located. Certain areas will have less strict policies depending on the age of the houses in that location, housing density, and the impact on the environment, visual pollution etc. so it is good to do research into the local planning policies before attempting a self-build.

Urban areas rarely have planning policies related specifically to the replacement of existing houses. Councils tend to favour making better use of land in built-up areas, as this is known as building on ‘previously developed land’. So long as the new building adheres to all the previous planning considerations and blends into the character of the area, in theory there should be little difficulty with a self-build of this type.

In rural areas planning policies tend to be far stricter, particularly in areas of natural beauty. There are policies specifically designed to prevent new house builds, but there are normally specific local policies detailing what is and isn’t permitted in a replacement. Most policies aim for the replacement house to be no more intrusive to the countryside than the existing one. It is best to check with your local council and planning officer for detailed policies about rural areas.

Planning Permissions

To improve your chances of gaining planning permissions, why not consider eco-friendly options? For rural self-builds ground-source heat pumps work well, even something as little as expressing the desire to plant trees or to build a nature pond on the existing plot can really tip the odds in your favour. 

Make sure you get planning permission for both the demolishing of the old house and the building of the new one at the same time, as if you are denied for the rebuild you essentially have no house at all. Local knowledge is also essential; a beautifully rebuilt house in a run-down area is basically a waste of money.

Mike James is a Sussex based landlord and one of the growing number who “let to let”, that’s to say, he owns property that is then rented out as an investment whilst also renting the home he actually lives in. He is also a writer and covers issues concerning the housing market for Tim Greenwood & Associates, an independent specialist building surveying practice.

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