28 Jul 2023 - Self Build

How to self-build profitably in an economic crisis

Despite the UK economy avoiding recession, it remains the only G7 country not to have economically recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. While this may leave some self-builders concerned, there are still many profitable opportunities to be found in embarking on a self-build project.

Here, we provide practical insights and strategies for navigating a self-build project during a cost-of-living crisis, exploring key factors, budgeting techniques, and resourceful approaches to help stay profitable despite rising costs.

1. Assess the financial and plot landscape

First things first - research the market thoroughly. Investigating up-to-date financial statistics in the self-build industry can help you identify plots, areas, and opportunities to position your project within, and, ultimately, figure out your potential return-on-investment for a self-build venture.

2. Budget and plan finances 

Meticulous planning and budgeting is crucial to avoid the common self-build pitfalls, and make maximum profit. For example, if you’re working on an existing build, you’ll still have to pay VAT for works carried out, whereas entirely new houses are zero-rated for VAT. When it comes to discussions with architects, give them the most detailed brief you can, along with a completely honest budget.

3. Research grants, initiatives, and financing options

From self-build mortgages to the Right To Build scheme, there are a number of initiatives to help individuals building their own properties. A helpful place to gain information and support is through a self-build association or community group in your area. The NaCSBA members directory is invaluable for helping to find plots and other self-build services. And of course, our own self-build resources can provide advice and guidance.

4. Consider cost-effective design and material selection

Where can you save and where does it make long-term financial sense to invest? This is important, because while cost management is vital in an economic crisis, so is ensuring that your investment will pay dividends in the long run. It's a good idea to research different manufacturers and suppliers, especially for materials such as bricks, lumber, tiles, and flooring, which can often be cheaper when bought in bulk. However, nothing can compromise on superior quality and durability when it comes to wood and ironmongery - a contemporary, high-security front door, for example, can maximise first impressions and kerb appeal.

5. Upgrade your self-build skills 

Taking a DIY approach can save a lot of money on labour costs, and can sometimes even be enjoyable! For instance, simpler tasks in the developmental process, or those such as constructing cabinets, shelves, or furniture might be more cost-efficient to take on alone. Unless you have the training, it’s important to consult the professionals for aspects of the project such as designing and joining. Our assisted fit service allows you to hire a Deuren installer for the day, who’ll demonstrate and teach you exactly how to fit your doors. You can then easily fit the rest yourself in confidence and save money, which previous clients say has been beneficial.

6. Leverage technology and innovation

Self-builders have a huge range of technologies to make the design and construction process easier. For example, making modifications during the physical building stage can have huge financial repercussions, but technology such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) can show you a detailed 3D model of your project, while virtual reality and augmented reality can help you visualise your project before construction begins. There are also self-build kits, which can be a potentially cost-effective option for those who want to build their own home without consulting an architect or builder. However, while these might appear to be a low-cost option at first - generally starting at an average of £24,000 - it is worth noting that is only the cost of the kit itself. Additional expenses can include site preparation, permits, utilities, labour, and any customisation or upgrades to the kit home.

7. Always think about long-term sustainability 

While saving money is important, compromising the quality, longevity, and safety of your self-build project is crucial. And home buyers are especially interested in energy efficiency in a cost-of-living crisis. From insulation and solar panels to windows and doors, energy-efficient features both appeal to more environmentally-conscious buyers and generate cost savings over time, adding more value to your self-build.

Undertaking your own self-build project? Read our top tips for self-build success for further information. And if you’re renovating your self-build home, explore the key features to add the most value to your property.

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