Starting from scratch when building your home is one of the biggest financial decisions you can make, so, naturally, undertaking a new build project can feel like a leap of faith. Knowing where to start can be a challenge, but we’re here to guide you through each step of the process.

Find a plot

First things first – you may have a great idea, but you won’t be able to carry it out without the necessary space. When looking for land you’ll need to consider the slope of the ground, the rock or soil you’ll be dealing with, infrastructure and services available in the area. Planning permissions and town planning guidance along with any legalities such as covenants that might affect development of the land and what you can do with it will also need researching. You should always commission a  professional survey of the plot which will help you determine its suitability for building before you consider a purchase.

Choose a builder

Choosing the right builder can make all the difference when it comes to taking the stress out of a new build project. A good place to start is to get referrals from friends and family and then meet with the builders themselves. Find out what relevant experience they have and how long they’ve been in the business. You can then start collecting quotes from builders, including pricings for maintenance, clearance and materials as well as labour. These costs should then be set out in the contract when you instruct a builder, so that there are no hidden or surprise payments further down the line. Make sure the builder you choose has the correct insurances; they should be covered for property damage and personal and public liability to make sure everyone’s protected in the event of an accident or injury.

Design your home

It may be that you’ve already got a lot of ideas, but professional, formalised design is the next stage in the process. For this you will need to engage the services of a architect with whom you will work to help bring your concepts to life, as he or she will discuss the possibilities of your build with you and eventually set down the blueprints for builders to follow. You should bear in mind that architects as well as being highly qualified technicians, are also creative people who will wish to put their own stamp on the design of any project – be prepared to fight your corner, as they will certainly fight theirs! Remember too that they will also be able to judge the practicality of your ideas, so it’s in your interest to take good notice of any warnings and advice. This is the creative stage of the process, but you’ll still need to keep the project within budget and to work around any problems you may encounter with your plot or with planning permissions.

Once the design is complete, you can instruct your builders to start work (provided you have the correct permissions). A main contractor, like Nutshell, can coordinate every stage of the process, making sure the right professionals are doing the right things at the right time. What’s more, we can work collaboratively with you and your architect to ensure your big ideas are brought to life in a way you envisage them.

Apply for planning permissions

Planning applications can be a long, drawn out process, but your research when buying your land and a properly considered design from an architect should make acquiring permission easier. If you’ve bought a plot of land that comes with planning permission you’ll need to make sure your designs fit into the scope of what’s already been granted. If your plot doesn’t come complete with permissions you’ll need to do some research on local planning policies and take into account around an extra eight week period whilst your application is processed and approved. At this stage it’s a good idea to talk to some of the people who the council will consult before granting permission. These include neighbours and local authorities who have the power to delay your application or even have it refused. Once you’ve got your planning permission understand the conditions that come with it. If you step out of these you’ll be asked to change the structure which will result in you needing to spend additional time and money making your home compliant.

Start the building process

Once everything has been finalised and approved you can get started on the main event; bringing your ideas to life. Make sure you keep up plenty of communication with your main contractor, to ensure that everything is going to plan and you’re kept in the loop. This will help to make the process less stressful, even if there are some stumbling blocks along the way. Have your builder provide you with a timeline of work (which should also be agreed in the contract) to make sure everyone is agreed when it comes to measuring progress.

At Nutshell we’re always thrilled at the prospect of a new build and the chance to work from a blank slate. If you have a big idea, we’d love to hear it, and we’re always happy to offer help and advice in any way we can. Get in touch today to talk to the professional Nutshell team and get your big project underway.