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How to successfully self-build

Looking for a home that suits you down to the ground?

There are lots of reasons why people choose to start from scratch and build their own property.

For a start, you get somewhere that’s ideally suited to you, your lifestyle, and your budget.

It can cost a lot less to buy a plot and build a house rather than purchase a similar property that already exists. Plus, you’ll ultimately be able to reclaim VAT on some of the materials for your project.

There’s lots to think about, so we’ve pulled together some top tips, as well as links to the plots we have on offer.

What do you want?

You need to research and plan for what you want to build, how much space you need, and what’s possible within your budget.

What kind of home do you want, and where? What size of plot do you need?

Do you need special rooms like a games room? What about a garage or parking? How about a garden? How many bedrooms?

Do you want to be able to use renewable energy and sustainable materials? Can you get these locally?

Financing the project

Not surprisingly, you’ll need to get a special type of mortgage for a self-build project.

Usually this means you’re loaned the money in stages, rather than one lump sum. It’s best to get specialist advice to arrange this, and that’s where our mortgage experts can come in.

Your plot

There are loads of places you can look to find the perfect plot, including on our website.

A major consideration with plots is if they come with planning permission. If so, you might have to stick to the design that’s already been approved. If you want something different, you’ll need to start again with the planning permission process.

You’ll also need to take into account things like soil type, flooding risk, trees — whether they’re protected — and the cost of groundworks and foundations as well as distance to utilities.

It’ll come as no surprise that our advice here is to speak to a solicitor early on. They’ll work with you to navigate the whole process and tackle conveyancing issues to keep things moving.

What your dream house looks like

You have your plot. What now?

This is where you have a couple of options, but also where you need to take care and make sure everything’s covered.

You can hire an architect — someone you know you can work with closely to bring your vision to life, creating the perfect plan for your builders to follow. The architect will also be able to apply for the likes of planning permission and building warrants on your behalf. Plus, they’ll keep an eye on how things are going.

You can also deal directly with timber kit manufacturers who can offer a package that includes dealing with planning applications, building warrants and applications for essential services.

Whatever option you choose you must make sure you have someone experienced in project management at the helm and that all contractual and financial considerations are taken care of.

This includes being clear about your contracts, what is being provided, what the programme looks like, understanding when payments and triggered and who’s overseeing things.

In short, designing the build is relatively easy, what you need is clarity on what’s being delivered and how you’ll handle any bumps along the way.

Expert advice at this stage is invaluable and, in the long run, makes financial sense compared with the costs of sorting out any potential dispute.

Other considerations include —

  • Deciding on a builder — you certainly don’t have to do it yourself, though you can chip in if you’re keen and able. Again, make sure you’re happy with the credentials of who you’ve chosen and that all the contractual details are taken care of
  • Connecting water, electricity and gas
  • Self-build insurance

Our team will be able to keep you on track throughout the whole process, give us a shout to chat through what you have in mind and find out how we can help.

Plus, for more advice it’s well worth checking out the mygov.scot website, the National Custom and Self Build Association, Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council’s planning pages.

And for some inspiration, here are some of the plots we have on offer.

Typical External Elevation 2 Artists Impression

The Village, Fasque Estate, Fettercairn, Laurencekirk, AB30 1DN — prices from £145,000

When completed, The Village at Fasque Estate near Fettercairn will be a community of luxury homes on large plots, surrounded by landscaped grounds, acres of parkland, wildlife ponds and miles of country trails.


Plot 2, Mackenzie Drive, Kingseat, Newmachar, Aberdeenshire, AB21 0AJ — fixed price £70,000

If you’re looking for a quiet, country plot that’s close to the city, this might be right up your street. This plot has planning permission for a 166 square-metre, four-bedroom house on the outskirts of Newmachar.

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Plot at Old Leslie Insch Aberdeenshire — offers around £65,000

What a view! This plot, only three miles from Insch, has full planning permission for a house and detached garage.

Cairnton Steading Plot 2 204 14

Cairnton Farm, Kemnay, Aberdeenshire, AB51 5NU — offers over £300,000

This large steading and two plots, with a brilliant view of Bennachie, can be sold as a whole or in three lots. It’s close to Kemnay and handy for commuting to the likes of Aberdeen, Dyce, Westhill and Kingswells.

Site at Udny Station Hotel, Main Road, Udny Station, Aberdeenshire, AB41 6QJ — under offer

If you’re looking for a plot with potential for a large enclosed garden, it’s well worth adding this one to your list. It has planning permission in principle for a three-bed bungalow.

Ground at 22 Kinaldie Crescent, Aberdeen, AB15 8HX — offers over £175,000

This building plot in the west-end has full planning permission and building warrant to build a large home, split over three levels.

Nicola Reid

Nicola is an experienced conveyancer and specialises in all aspects of residential property sales, including sales, purchases, remortgages and securities. Nicola regularly prepares deeds of condition and pro forma offers, as well as negotiating, reviewing and concluding missives. She advises a number of prominent housebuilders in Aberdeen, and deals with high value property purchases.

Posted, 30 January 2021 by Nicola Reid
Categories: Private client | Residential property