Self Build Guide

Finding a Plot of Land

Finding land for sale and establishing whether it is right for your needs is one of the hardest steps in the self-build journey.  With over 10,000 people undertaking a self-build project each year, finding a plot of land in an ideal location at the right price to build your dream home is not as simple as finding a home via the usual methods, therefore, alternative options may need to be explored.


The internet

  • Plot finding websites: Plot-Browser; Plot-Finder; Plot-Search
  • Conventional Property sale sites:  Prime Location; Rightmove; Zoopla; OntheMarket

Direct Contact

  • Local Estate Agents, Architects or Surveyors
  • Land Agents

Proactive Approach

  • Visit the area you like, are there any potential sites or existing properties which could be demolished
  • Planning application pages on local council websites
  • Regularly check Auctioneer websites

Self-Build Community

  • National Custom & Self-Build Association
  • Local Self-Build Register
  • Magazines
  • Exhibitions

Appraising the Plot

Before taking the step and putting in an offer there are a few things to consider to  see if the plot you have found is right for you.


  • Is the proposed site within the development boundary of the village/town
  • Potential re-sale value considering other properties in the area; transport links, shops and amenities
  • Is the local council planning any major developments in the area?


  • Is there appropriate access?
  • Is the site on a slope?
  • What services are available and the costs to install
  • What and where can you build
  • Is the site large enough for the home you wish to build?

Planning permission

  • What type of planning permission does the plot have:  No Planning, Outline Planning or Full Planning
  • Are there any restrictions such as the type of building, the location of the new build in relation to adjacent properties, any covenants attached to the permission?
  • Are there any specialist conditions detailed in the planning decision?


How much are you prepared to pay?

The reason for the self-build, will this be your forever home? or do you intend to build and sell?

It may be important to consider the potential equity

The total build costs



Planning & Building Regs

Building Regulations set the standards for the design and construction of your building, they are a set of statutory instruments which apply to self-build and focus on the use, structural integrity, and safety of the building.  They are implemented by building control and carried out either by the local authority or an approved inspector from the private sector.  Companies who provide structural warranty schemes often offer a building control service.

The regulations set out:

  • What building or work are covered
  • The standard that must be met
  • The role of the inspector
  • How the regulations are enforced

Following planning approval and before any work on site can start, you need to decide whether to make a Full Plans Application or submit a Building Notice.

The Building Notice option lets you start building on site without prior approval allowing you to address the building regulations through the building process. The responsibility of ensuring the work fully complies is with the builder. The work will still need to be inspected.

The Full Plans option will need to include a set of technical plans that demonstrate what is being proposed conforms fully.  Choosing this option, you will know that the working drawings have been checked and approved by the Building Inspector and that they are fully compliant with Building Regulations.

The Inspection Process

Work on a new build or extension may proceed before formal approval, nothing can proceed beyond inspection stages without approval from the inspector.

Inspection Stages:

  • Foundations
  • Ground and floors
  • Damp proofing
  • Roof Structure
  • Drainage
  • Structural Beams and Openings
  • Insulation
  • Completion

When the building is completed to the satisfaction of the inspector and all the relevant certificates have been passed to the inspector a completion certificate will be issued.  The relevant certificates may vary from one project to another, but they usually include:

  • Electrical Safety
  • SAP Calculations
  • Air Pressure Test
  • Boiler Installation
  • Remediation of contaminated land
  • Chimney and open flued appliances

The completion certificate is an important document along with the planning approval documents. These are required at the point of selling the property, to obtain the warranty certificate and for lenders to release funds.

If applicable, the completion certificate will be required to reclaim the VAT on your self-build project


In Scotland, the process of satisfying building regulations is known as a ‘Building Warrant’.  Work cannot be started on site until a stamped, approved building warrant is received.