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Is the chance of achieving a UK self-build almost zero?

 
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Vortex2



Joined: 13 Jan 2019
Posts: 233

PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:45 am    Post subject: Is the chance of achieving a UK self-build almost zero? Reply with quote

Hi,

It seems to me that achieving a self-build in the UK is almost impossible.

Does anyone here have a story where it all went very simply?

In my opinion:

* You need the drive, health and resilance to progress the project.

* Your partner (if any) needs to be equally keen.

* You need the spare time to work on the project.

* You probably need a flexible job to allow various chunks of time off.

* You need some technical ability - or lots of money to hire consultants - to progress the project

* You need to find a plot of suitable land i.e. big enough, of the right sort, near to where you want to be etc. (Many builds seem to be on Mummy & Daddy's land ... which reduces the problems by a huge amount)

* You need to have the money to buy the plot.

* You need planning permission ... easier said than done.. Can take years - and success is not guaranteed. ( Converting an existing building can help immensely)

* You need money to build the new house.

* If you need to sell your current house to pay for the new house, you need somewhere to live during the build.

Overall the probability of meeting all the requirements is close to zero.
Or am I being pessimistic?
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emordnilap



Joined: 05 Sep 2007
Posts: 14549
Location: Houǝsʇlʎ' ᴉʇ,s ɹǝɐllʎ uoʇ ʍoɹʇɥ ʇɥǝ ǝɟɟoɹʇ' pou,ʇ ǝʌǝu qoʇɥǝɹ˙

PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems to be somewhat easier where I am, in rural Ireland. In fact, the east of my county is known for so-called 'hippies' Laughing who build all kinds of unorthodox structures hidden from view.

Not that I'm suggesting anyone move here, no way, there are far too many people here already, the weather's shíte, taxes high, no jobs, land is dear, no decent curry houses, oh, all sorts of reasons why no-one should ever come here.
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vtsnowedin



Joined: 07 Jan 2011
Posts: 5329
Location: New England ,Chelsea Vermont

PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm in the States so not as difficult. We built our own now some thirty years ago. It would be tougher today as rules have changed and tightened up.
Going down your list my first quibble would be needing the time. You have weekends where you can put in two ten hour days plus you can put in an hour or two every night as can your partner if they are not tending three toddlers. Over a year or two that adds up and you probably have a vacation week or two to add to it. You won't have the money to co to the beach anyway.
You will need a good set of plans and some building experience or at least a steep learning curve. I wore out a "cat's paw" prybar tearing apart mistakes I made on mine. Embarassed
On land and planning permission you have it right but as to the money you need money anyway for rent or the payments on your current house so switching over to paying for the new one is a reallocation not a new extra expense. The overlap while you are working on the new while still in the old is a sticker but if you are living with in-laws you don't care for you will find it focuses you on getting the project done.
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is buying a shell/dilapidated building any kind of an option? Again, it is here - in fact a local 'estate agent' specialises in them, giving quite honest, accurate and off-putting descriptions.

Quote:
Basic three-room, stone-built cottage on circa 1.16 acres. The dwelling has been left empty for over a decade, and is in need of refurbishment , modernisation, and probably extension. At present there is no water supply, no bathroom, no modern kitchen, no septic tank and no central heating. Located on quiet country road.


Source.

or this, start from scratch:

Quote:
Circa 2 acre site, sold subject to planning. Situated on a dead end road between Scarriff and Feakle, with fine hilly East Clare views. This plot wraps around a small cottage, not included in the sale. Planning was once granted P081015, for a Scandinavian Scanhome. This has since lapsed.


Source. €35,000 - cheap for a site, dear for farmland.

Set yourself up in a portakabin/mobile home and work on the building when you can. I know many people who've done this/still doing this.

I know one guy who just bought some land in the middle of a forest and built himself a very good 'eco-home' with his bare hands, from found materials, scavenged stuff, Freecycle and straw bales. Just rainwater, a few solar pv panels, a wood stove and he's happy as Larry. He's no postal code and I don't think the 'authorities' know he's even there. More power to his elbow, I say.

OK, you need to be reasonably young - you want to imagine spending a good few years at the end of your life not working but in comfort.
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Vortex2



Joined: 13 Jan 2019
Posts: 233

PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
OK, you need to be reasonably young - you want to imagine spending a good few years at the end of your life not working but in comfort.

I suspect that the majority of new smallholders / selfbuilders in the UK are approaching retirement age.

Their kids have left, they have built up some money and/or our house equity, they may have more free time and it's becoming 'now or never'.

The downside is of course that turning sheep over, moving logs etc is difficult when you are in your 50s or 60s.

This delay is primarily due to the scarcity of suitable land and most importantly the strictly enfoced rule that you cannot build in 'open countryside'.

('Open countryside' can even be WITHIN the surburbs in some areas, thanks to planners who wish to restrict all development to UK population centres)

So if you want to work a rural smallholding or farm in the UK it really helps if it ALREADY EXISTS.
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clv101
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Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 8134

PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vortex2 wrote:
Quote:
OK, you need to be reasonably young - you want to imagine spending a good few years at the end of your life not working but in comfort.

I suspect that the majority of new smallholders / selfbuilders in the UK are approaching retirement age.

Their kids have left, they have built up some money and/or our house equity, they may have more free time and it's becoming 'now or never'.

The downside is of course that turning sheep over, moving logs etc is difficult when you are in your 50s or 60s.

This delay is primarily due to the scarcity of suitable land and most importantly the strictly enfoced rule that you cannot build in 'open countryside'.

('Open countryside' can even be WITHIN the surburbs in some areas, thanks to planners who wish to restrict all development to UK population centres)

So if you want to work a rural smallholding or farm in the UK it really helps if it ALREADY EXISTS.


Situation in Wales is very different. The issue you outline was recognised well over a decade ago, new planning policy was introduced in 2010 to facilitate new smallholdings in the open countryside. It's working well and there's interest in England. Last month I was invited to give a presentation to Forest of Dean council, they are updating their local plan and are interested in the Welsh approach to rural development.
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Vortex2



Joined: 13 Jan 2019
Posts: 233

PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting.

Forest of Dean, eh?

IIRC I made a formal complaint about their approach to the NPPF several years back.

In England the relaxation of planning restrictions for conversion of barns to houses seems to be the way to go ... but of course landowners with barns now realise the increased value of a field with a broken barn and are either converting the barns themselves or asking a premium on the land price.
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kenneal - lagger
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Joined: 20 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I pretty much agree with Vortex above and would reiterate that if you want a Zero Carbon or near ZC house get someone who knows what they are doing to design it for you. The detailed knowledge, or knowledge of the details, is the important thing because those details are the difference between an average house and a true ecohouse. But then I would say that wouldn't I.

Don't get a house designed by an architect/designer and then take it to an eco designer "to make it green" because eco design doesn't work that way. Eco design starts from the very basics: the form and proportions of the house; the orientation; the orientation of the fenestration and the amount of glass. These all have a profound effect and are ones that an architect won't necessarily take into account unless they have a good background in eco design.

It would be good to talk to your designer about any plot that you buy before you buy it because a north facing slope with trees to the south (northern hemisphere) is a pretty bad start for an eco design. If you're into Fung Shui that is a good start because many of the basics of Fung Shui siting for a house are also the basics for good eco design; a site sloping towards the sun and shelter from the west wind for instance.

If the only site that you can find/afford is not an ideal site buy it because you can build a house on the site that won't be ideal but will be a damn sight better than any house that you can buy from a developer and will probably be cheaper than making a properly functioning ecohouse from an already existing building.
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Vortex2



Joined: 13 Jan 2019
Posts: 233

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Grand Design style South facing mega eco house on the top of a hill with two new private plate Range Rovers parked outside isn't reality.

Most of us are lucky to get ANY land with planning permission!

In our case, we have a huge neighbour's barn to the North shading our entire tiddly barn.

Literally 95%+ of our design/location/build technique/rooms layout etc have been fixed due to legal, technical, planning regulations etc.

We have followed Passiv Haus rules as best we can - but we won't bother with certification.

Real life gets in the way of best laid plans.
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fuzzy



Joined: 29 Nov 2013
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Location: The Marches, UK

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just don't end up like Albert Dryden
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Vortex2



Joined: 13 Jan 2019
Posts: 233

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fuzzy wrote:
Just don't end up like Albert Dryden

To be frank, I can see how something like that could happen.

Local government workers worried about their jobs and/or with an air of superiority reinforced by being part of a mutually reinforcing group can act totally unreasonably - and there is little/no redress.

Such behaviour in a corporate environment would be career limiting.
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