Don’t move or improve – Try new build.

I originally wrote this in November 2008, after moving into my first self build.  It was written as a test peice for the 4Homes webiste but never got published.

There are five main aspects to any building project, your requirements, finance, management, cost, profit and design.  I hope to show you how a new build house can be a better option than home improvements or moving, especially in the current market.

If you are finding it difficult to move house, you should increase your options by considering a new build project, as a conversion or extension can be a compromise, because of limitations imposed by the existing building and its location.  It is also worth remembering that the process of buying land is relatively quick and you are unlikely to be in a buying chain.

Instead of extending your mortgage to cover the cost of your home improvements, try looking at self build mortgages as they offer staged payments to suit progress and may well be cheaper and easier to arrange at present.  In addition, as interest rates are so low, a bank loan is a decent option to cover some of the project costs.

A simple extension or conversion can be more stressful than creating a new building.  There is a huge impact on your daily routine through loss of rooms and living on a building site as well as the increased possibility of hidden problems associated with existing buildings.  Whilst, there may be more work involved with a new build, there should be less unforeseen complications and the work will be more straight forward and easier to manage.

You may be surprised to learn how much cheaper it is to build a house than buy a similar one and how favourably the build cost compares per floor area with building a large extension.  Once you add in reduced land and labour prices and the advantage of zero rated VAT for new houses, the cost of a new building starts to make sense.

Most home improvement projects will add value to your house.  However, the resale value of a new build project will be significantly more that the build cost.  The old rule of thumb used to be one third land, one third building and one third profit.  Given the current market conditions, the ratio of profit can only improve.

As well as all the financial and practical advantages of building a new house you shouldn’t dismiss the emotional aspects of starting from scratch and building what you want and how you want it.  You may think that an extension will improve your live dramatically, but just think what a new house will do!

So if you are keen to move or you’re thinking about a building project, consider self building, you get what you want, it’s easy to fund, relatively easy to do, great value for money, brings good return and can improve your way of life!


  1. Hi Matt,

    What about managing surface water? I’m from the water management sector and i have come across various new legislations in the last few years which has a direct impact on selfbuilders or homeowners looking to make alterations to their existing homes.

    For example, In October 2008, you are to seek planning permission on any surface which is not permeable. In other words, if you wanted to tarmac over your driveway you would need to seek planning permission where as if you were to place porous paving on your drive way then you would NOT need to seek planning permission. Why? Simply because you are managing the water at source to reduce flooding.

    Ok, so back to your post, are homeowners and selfbuilders aware of recent changes to legislation, regulations etc which has a direct impact on their new ventures and ultimately built ‘fit for purpose’ and to standards such as CFSH etc.

    Love to hear your thoughts on this one.

    • Pritesh
      Thanks for your question.
      The changes to planning you refer to state ‘You will not need planning permission if a new or replacement driveway of any size uses permeable (or porous) surfacing which allows water to drain through, such as gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt, or if the rainwater is directed to a lawn or border to drain naturally.

      If the surface to be covered is more than five square metres planning permission will be needed for laying traditional, impermeable driveways that do not provide for the water to run to a permeable area.’
      For more information visit The Planning Portal

      To answer your question, in my experience Self Builders are more aware of the Planning and Building Regulations changes than homeowners are. It comes down to what each individual would want to build, how technically minded they are and how the changes are published. For example, a lot of homeowners know about Permitted Development Rights as these are usually discussed heavily in the media. However, Codes For Sustainable Homes are more specific and I find that the clients wishing to work with the codes have a good working knowledge of them.

      I hope this has helped.