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United Kingdom (UK) - Building Your Own Home

No regulations in the United Kingdom keep an expat from building their own home. Like any property purchase, there are steps that must be followed. Procedures are in place to ensure that there are no problems during the building of the house, or after it has been constructed. New builds in large cities like London are possible, however most of the planning and construction is conducted through a building society and contractor. In more rural locations there is a higher possibility of finding land for a new build. There will be choices between community neighbourhoods where planning requirements can be strict and rural areas that have not been made into neighbourhoods. If there is a neighbourhood planning association, they will need to grant permission for your home. This permission is often based on the style of home, where you want to set it on the land, and whether you want a fence. Covenants in a historical neighbourhood may require a new build to stay within the same style as the older homes rather than allowing a more modern look.

As long as you use an agent and conduct due diligence with regard to the surrounding area, you should not encounter issues with planning permission. Your application should be accepted, or you may be requested to make minor changes before acceptance is given. You will need to file a planning permission application with your local council and then gain your right to build.

Build Your Own or Have it Built

Building your own home comes with a lot of responsibility. You are still required to follow UK building regulations for all aspects of the home. Permits are necessary at several stages of building a home, from the foundations to the roof. Inspectors will need to ensure that each stage has been conducted according to plan. Electricians and plumbers are subcontractors that need to have licences in order to work on your home.

Builders should also be licensed, however the Health and Safety Executive states only that contractors working with substances such as asbestos should have an appropriate license. It is better for your safety to only allow licensed workers in your home. Your contractor can also ensure that all the building permits you require from the local authority are in place and that inspections are conducted at the appropriate times so that the build can move on to the next stage.

You can search for builders through the National House Building Council. This online website and licensing body offers a list of contractors in each region of the United Kingdom to help you choose a registered and licensed expert to build your home.

Hiring a Solicitor

You might want to hire a solicitor for your own build during the land buying phase. A solicitor will set up a contract and help you with pricing, boundaries, and any planning restrictions that might be in place.

Finding an Architect

An architect may be necessary for your own build if you have decided to go with a custom home rather than a planned community. There are also plans already drawn that can be purchased from home magazines if you wish.

Architects are most easily found through the Royal Institute of British Architects. Working with an architect is not difficult in the United Kingdom. Architects are licensed and knowledgeable about building regulations to ensure that you obtain a feasible plan for your home. Architects can be searched for based on your preferences, as some offices specialise in more historical designs whereas others work solely with modern concepts.

An architect will charge a separate fee from the building contractor. If you choose to go with a contract in a development, they may already have an architect on their payroll which could save you some paperwork.

Resources for Builders and Architects

National House Building Council

This is the standard regulatory body and a leading insurance and home construction warranty company in the United Kingdom. A list of contractors can be found through their website.

Royal Institute of British Architects

Several international architects are members of the Royal Institute of British Architects, as well as those hailing from the UK, helping you to find the right person to design your home.

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