Sips Eco Panels budget-friendly

Sips Eco Panels Provides Help from Beginning to End

Sips Eco Panels knows how crucial it is for builders and developers to make use of the best materials being a budget-friendly yet highly-valuable material for home and building construction. Its structural insulated panels can be used for various construction and building projects, and now, it provides invaluable help from beginning to end to self-builders as well.

UNITED KINGDOM – Structural insulated panels have taken the building and construction sector by storm, being a budget-friendly yet highly-valuable material which is used for walls, ceilings, roofs, and more. More home- and building-owners now use SIPs as a replacement for traditional timber, and they have proven their integrity and durability in more ways than one.

Sips Eco Panels is one company which has helped numerous customers make use of eco panels for their homes and other structures, but its service extends to more than just SIPs supply. The company now helps more customers by providing premier guidance and assistance for self-builds as well.

According to Sips Eco Panels, it can now help customers with the design of their homes as well as the erection of their properties. As the company explains, “With over 40 years helping individuals, we can provide a complete service from design, planning permission and Building Regulations, through to supplying your super-efficient Sips Eco panels frame. When needed, we can even put you in contact with independent Project Managers to provide a complete build service for self-builders and small developers alike.”

Sips Eco Panels even provides videos for self-builders as well as a variety of design options for self-builds using structural insulated panels. But apart from this, Sips Eco Panels also provides brochures and installation manuals, construction manuals, and structural design guides which customers can request right on its website.

The uses of SIPs are varied, and this is one reason why structural insulated panels have become an excellent alternative to traditional materials. Structural insulated panels can be used for new builds as well as home and building renovations and roofs and extensions. Sips Eco Panels confirms, “We supply and manufacture both kits and blank panels to your specification. They’re inexpensive, easy to build and delivered straight to site.”

Customers who are keen on learning more about these structural insulated panels and how they can make use of them for their homes can also request a free quote from Sips Eco Panels through the company’s website.

About the company:

Sips Eco Panels has been supplying structural insulated panels to homeowners and building owners in the UK for many years. The company also assists self-builders and developers who need help with home and building design as well as installation and erection.

For more information on this SIP UK supplier, visit the website.

Media Contact
Company Name: Sips Eco Panels
Email: Send Email
Phone: 01592 631636
Address:5 – 7 Boston Road, Viewfield Industrial Estate
City: Glenrothes
Country: United Kingdom

Get planning permission for self-build projects first time

How to get planning permission for self-build projects first time
by sarahchilcott on October 16, 2017

You have found the site or the renovation project and are keen to get started. The last thing you need are delays with processing your planning application. Whether your plot comes complete with planning permission or you need to apply for approval, understanding the process, as well as the requirements and concerns of your local authority, will help you to achieve your aspirations and ensure your project complies with both the planning and building control requirements.

In this article, we introduce you to our Professional Portal; a central online hub for finding guidance, information and tools for managing any project. We also offer some handy tips on getting planning permission for your self-build first time, below.

Submit a valid application

Planning applications take an average of two months to process and your local planning authority will not begin to process your application until you submit all the necessary documentation and payment. Even professionals who submit applications still occasionally make errors so if you do choose to do it yourself, check and recheck your application form before submission. Make sure you include all necessary reports and forms to support the application – and that you pay the correct fee.

Provide a compliant map

When you apply for planning permission, your local authority will usually require a planning map, or maps, to support the application. One of the most common reasons for a rejected application is an invalid or incorrect planning map. Buying the correct map from a reputable source increases your chances of a successful planning application and will save you time and money.

You will need to supply a location plan which shows the area in its surrounding context and depending on the nature of your project, you might also need a site or block plan which shows the project in a wider scale and includes access routes, amenities, pylons, trees etc.

The following errors can invalidate a planning map:

Incorrectly marked location
Incorrect or missing scale label
Out of date information
A reproduction rather than original supplied
The map does not fit correctly on a A3 or A4 piece of paper
The map does not show the direction of north.

How can I ensure my site location plan is compliant?

Ensure markings for both the property boundary and other land owned are clear and current; (showing the land as it is today) with a red line around all the land that is required for the development and blue line drawn around any other land owned by you
Use an identified standard scale – 1.1250 for urban applications and 1.2500 for rural or larger applications
Clearly mark the direction of north
Make sure that the plan can be scaled to fit A3 or A4 paper
To demonstrate that the map does not breach copyright, clearly show the date of both plan creation and purchase
Show relevant roads and buildings.

How can I ensure my block/site plan is compliant?

Use an identified standard scale – 1.200 for urban applications and 1.500 for rural or larger applications
Clearly show the proposed development in the wider environment including the site boundaries and other buildings in the area
Clearly show all access routes, public rights of way, buildings, trees and footpaths on land adjoining the site that will affect the development
Show the type and extent of any hard surfacing/hardfacing.

Understand your local authority’s requirements

Unlike building control, planning rules can differ considerably from council to council, so gaining an understanding of your local authority’s local requirements is vital. Research the local council’s policy as well as national regulations and consult your council’s planning department or a Chartered Planning Consultant, architect or other professional, who can advise on the requirements and/or process.

If you’re still in the research stage of the process, take a look at the development plan policies of your local area for insights into plots that are more and less likely to get approval. Your local authority may offer supplementary planning guidance, giving more detailed information about their expectations and the external factors you need to consider such as the structure and layout of the neighbourhood. Talking to your prospective neighbours about any concerns they have can also help.

It’s important to note that policies can change over time, so what wasn’t permitted in the past may be considered today and vice versa. Don’t forget that you can track the progress of your application with the local authority and if you receive a request for further documentation or your application is rejected, use their expertise and ask for advice.

Get the support you need

Visit our Professional Portal for the resources you need to support your project; these key tools can be all be found in one central area of our website.

The planning system can be confusing so getting the right support and advice is vital. The aforementioned planning consultants or architects can help with guidance and once your project has been approved, make sure you recruit the right professionals for the job. The Federation of Master Builders can provide details of accredited, audited organisations and the RTPI has a comprehensive directory of Chartered Planners in your area.

Once you have been granted planning permission, don’t forget you also need building regulations approval to make sure you build to the correct standards. Find out more about building control on the Planning Portal website.

Visit our self-build hub for guidance on Community Infrastructure Levy, financing your project, brownfield registers and much more.

please note: this post was updated on 2/11/17]

Could you Project Manage your Self Build Home

This marvelous article can be found in the Home Building & Renovating magazine by the equally marvelous Mark Brinkley who is the author of the acclaimed “House Builders Bible” being required reading for potential self builders. By Mark Brinkley on 25 January 2018

From managing the neighbours to clearing up the site ready for the next subcontractor, Mark Brinkley explains what you need to know if you decide to project manage your self build

Self building does not necessarily mean constructing your home single-handedly, brick by brick — although some aficionados wouldn’t dream of doing anything else. In reality, you are going to need some help to either run the site on your behalf or assist you in your elected commanding role.

Lots of self builders choose to project manage themselves, often without realising just how much work is involved. If you decide to project manage your build, you are committing to a lot of work, stress and daily site visits for at least a year — but as you can save around 20% on your build cost doing so (as you’re taking on the role of the main contractor and keeping his 10- 20% added cost), it’s an appealing option.

Are You Prepared to Get Stuck In?

As project manager, you’ll be responsible for hiring subcontractors. However, one of the weaknesses of hiring trades to undertake the bulk of a building job is that there are many actions required that don’t fit easily into the standard subcontractor job descriptions. Tasks such as keeping the site tidy, stacking and storing materials, site security, taking in deliveries and temporary weatherproofing all fall on the project manager.

Anything that you’ve overlooked is unlikely to get done by anyone except you, so you rapidly find yourself building up a tool box of shovels, wheelbarrows, ladders and portable screwdrivers to fix those little in-between jobs to get the site ready for the next set of subcontractors.

It is here that the role of project manager gets conflated with that of being a site janitor, sometimes referred to as ‘management with a broom’. Be aware that running a building site requires lots of hours spent on site. If you can’t be there, then make sure that there is someone covering for you.

Do You Have Professional Friends to Call On?

Unless you are a very experienced builder, you would do well to have some support from someone who is. However much you can glean from books and articles, there are still aspects of the trade that you cannot know about until you get your hands dirty on site. If you do decide to go ahead without professional support, then prepare for it to take a lot longer, as you are likely to make a number of sub-optimal decisions that will add to costs and time taken.

The obvious person to have as a professional friend is the architect who designed the project. However, many architects are somewhat reluctant to fulfil this role – some like to just draw the plans – and the ones that do will make a significant charge.

Another route would be to have someone fulfilling the role of site foreman, someone who is very experienced in the trade who can spot the pitfalls before they happen and can also be around to lend a hand on the many in-between jobs. Again there is a cost, but often many things simply can’t be done by one person so you need to be realistic about this.

Are You Confident in Buying Materials?

Be aware that many subcontractors work on a labour-only basis and expect you to have purchased all the materials they need and for them to be ready on site at the scheduled hour. This is especially true of two of the critical trades — bricklayers and carpenters. You need to know both the quantities needed and to have an idea of what price you should be paying.

If you haven’t a clue, then this would be a useful moment to hire the services of a quantity surveyor who would create a bill of quantities with indicative prices. Also avail yourself of the local merchants and introduce them to the job you are undertaking. Organise credit facilities with several of them so that you can order without having to use a credit card every time you make a purchase.

Will You Be Able to Keep Track?

It is important to keep on top of the money side of things. If you choose to project manage the build and you are working to a budget – you should be – then keep expenses on a spreadsheet, broken down into the relevant cost centres to see how your job is doing against budget. Another very useful idea is to keep a diary of what happens when, who was on site and any unusual events that might later be of significance.

You also need to keep all paperwork in order to claim VAT back if it’s a new build or a conversion that qualifies for reduced or zero-rated VAT. The VAT rules are complex but potentially very beneficial to organised self-builders so you should familiarise yourself with relevant VAT notices and guidance. You need to keep all the original receipts to make a DIY reclaim, so you must organise your filing.

Are You Organised?

Running a good to-do list is key to every successful project. Some miraculous people do this entirely in their heads, but most of us need to write it down in order not to overlook items. The to-do list needs to be updated frequently, and also to be acted on.

For instance, it is all very well noting down the date the bricklayers plan to start, but you have to keep the bricklayers in the loop by ringing them every so often and letting them know how your schedule looks. Communication with suppliers and subcontractors is vital.

Start a new worksheet every couple of weeks and copy the previous list onto it before editing it to reflect the changes that have taken place in the meantime. Writing the list down adds discipline to the whole process. The list itself is divided between immediate tasks and longer term goals, which include a schedule of works that may be many months ahead.

Can You Manage the Neighbours?

It is well worth taking time out to chat to neighbours and explain what you are doing and when you plan to do it. They tend to be far more amenable if you can give them confidence that you are managing the process properly so that it will be as quick and painless as possible.

Sometimes a contentious planning application can sour the relationship before you even start on site and nothing you can do will make this better. But most people are realistic and understand that once planning permission has been granted, the building will take place and it’s actually also in their interest to get it done amicably.

Depending on how near your neighbours are, you may have to parlay with the Party Wall Act, for instance, which sets out ground rules for the responsibilities on both sides of the fence, and puts forward a mechanism for resolving disputes accordingly.

Do You Have a Handle on the Budget?

Have a realistic budget. Decide early on what sort of finish you are going for: the difference between the cheapest and the most expensive is staggering and while we might all want the best, realistically we have to make a lot of sacrifices if we want to stay on a reasonable budget.

The budget must also include a realistic contingency sum at the outset, probably around 15% of your overall budget. A contingency sum may well be spent before the project has even got out of the ground, as this is an area where unpredictable extras are commonplace.

After this stage, the contingency is more manageable and, in general, the better managed the project is, the less likely the contingency sum is going to get used up on unexpected costs.

In such cases, you will almost certainly spend it by upping the specification of the finishes, something that is all too easy to do. Look at it as a reward for spending all that time managing the project.

Can you handle it?

Only if the answer to all of the following questions is yes, should you consider it:

  • Are you able to spend time on site almost every day?
  • Do you feel confident at the thought of hiring, firing and negotiating deals?
  • Are you an expert at organising?
  • Will you dedicate time to researching products, trades, prices and materials?

Build Management options

Should You Project Manage Your Self Build?
By Jason Orme on 02 March 2017

An up to date and exceptionally comprehensive review of “Self Build” routes to managing your build by the Homebuilding & Renovating magazine:

There are a variety of different routes you can take to construct your dream home, says Jason Orme. But how do you decide which one is best for you?

For most individuals building their own home, the actual level of physical DIY build is next to nothing. ‘Self building’ encompasses a whole range of different approaches, but as long as you do any of the following, you can proudly wear a badge that says ‘self builder’ on it:

The level of involvement you choose is entirely up to you, but of course there are financial benefits of taking on as much of the work as possible, and project management is an area where this is certainly true.

Our project management guide covers the pros and cons of using a main contractor, being your own project manager and using a package company. It also includes advice on cash-flow and tips for successful project management.


It helps to clarify exactly what it is we’re talking about when we refer to individual roles in the building world:


subcontractor is a tradesperson who works for a main contractor. They are the electricians, brickies, carpenters and plumbers who are not paid directly by the self builder. If a self builder is project managing the site, these tradesmen actually become contractors, as they are directly employed.

Project Manager:

One of the functions of a main contractor. Project managers do not necessarily get involved physically on site but are likely to be constantly on the phone, organising trades and materials deliveries. They are responsible for bringing in the building project on schedule.

Main Contractor:

The individual who employs individual tradespeople (such as brickies and electricians) when necessary on a building project. They are likely to have a wide range of local contacts and be able to call on tradespeople at short notice. They are also likely to get involved with work on site and fill in the gaps.

Be Your Own Project Manager

How it Works

The self builder is responsible for the smooth day-to-day running of the building project. This involves:

  • interpreting the building drawings on site
  • finding, scheduling and directly paying tradesmen, from groundworkers to plumbers
  • organising and running the site, from hiring toilet facilities and security fencing to managing health and safety, keeping the site tidy and dealing with the grey areas between trades
  • taking deliveries and working out where to store materials safely
  • ordering and paying upfront for materials and ensuring they get delivered when needed
  • liaising with warranty and building inspectors.

Your Input

As above. You’ll need to be able to visit the site before work starts (8am is the traditional start of a tradesman’s day) and once work has finished, every day until the end of the project. In addition, you’ll need to be able to get to the site at a moment’s notice to deal with deliveries, meet building inspectors, service providers and so on. There is also likely to be some DIY involvement as you’ll need to fill in between the trades.

Cost and Cash-flow Implications

Project management requires early contact with trades and materials suppliers to come up with a realistic budget — critical if you need to arrange finance, and important to manage properly and keep a tight rein on cash-flow during the build.

As many lenders offer release of stage payments in arrears of work being done, you’ll probably need to arrange temporary bridging finance to pay tradesmen at the end of every week. Alternatively, you could investigate specialist advanced funding through BuildStore or Advanced Flexible Selfbuild Mortgage, which will provide money up front.

You’ll be able to save the builder’s profit (anywhere between 20-40% on labour and materials) but bear in mind that experienced local builders are more likely to be able to negotiate better discounts/trade prices on materials and, to an extent, on labour. Ensure that you establish a relationship with a local merchant and set up credit terms to help with cash-flow.

Risk Implications

Risk has a cost implication, and the ownership of that risk has the same monetary value.

When you employ a main contractor on a design and build basis you are pushing all design and risk ownership on to that company. When they price your project they will be building in money and provision to deal with any potential risk they can spot, using their experience and knowledge to try to understand the level of risk, possible costs, and still remaining hopefully competitive in a tough marketplace.

If you are the project manager you are holding ownership of that risk directly. If you manage to mitigate or reduce the risk, then you have saved money and can bask in the plaudits that this brings. But if the risk does become material, and escalates, you do not have any contract or agreement to hide behind, and must pay the costs accordingly.

Typical risks can relate to ground conditions, refurbishment of existing buildings, asbestos, position and conditions of drainage systems, and so on. If you pass this risk down your supply chain, the individual who ends up responsible will make financial provision in their price for this potential cost. So if your appetite for risk is low, then look at a comprehensive contract as soon as possible to pass the risk on, and pay the costs.

If you are a project manager and can fully understand the scope of potential downsides to specific identified risks, you could retain control of these and reap the potential savings.

Management Implications

As project manager, you need to know technical details, resources, and stage your project is at. How is it built? How does the frame tie in to the foundation? How is the cladding held up? Do the windows sit flush with the external façade, or in reveals? When does the kitchen require ordering to make sure the end date can be met?

You may not know the answers, but you need to know to ask the questions. As project manager, you are there to make sure that the people and resources you require are working together and fitting into your overall plan. Remember that if you let everyone guess or assume things, you will never ever get the result you had planned.

What resources do you need? For example, who will prepare the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for your finished house? The two aspects you need to manage here are: what is an EPC and who can do it? Once these have been addressed, the principle is established and the resourcing to get the EPC can then be put in place.

Similarly, not asking the warranty provider to let you know what stages they want to inspect the works can be costly when you call them at the end and want them to issue the warranty — the more ‘covered up’ the scheme is, the more expensive the policy.

The status of the design is a vital part of your project management thoughts. The more loose and uncertain the design, the less robust and predictable the costs, the timings and the ability to place pre-orders, book manufacturing slots, etc. Hold regular and frequent design team meetings (and minute them with action points!) and make sure you always keep track of what is left to do or is as yet unknown — every unknown aspect will reduce the ability to procure effectively.

Nothing should be left until later, until it has been analysed for critical path impact, cost certainty and availability. Once you understand the process and the programme/flow then you can decide its importance or urgency, but not before you have done this analysis.

Project Manager Pros

  • You are the boss. Everything that happens comes under your control and you should get exactly what you want.
  • You control the programme, which can be tailored to match your design development — the need to know the tile colour is less critical when the foundations are being dug.
  • Direct management of the work can give you greater flexibility. You can accelerate or slow down the works to suit your individual requirements — if cash flow is putting pressure on, slowing slightly or delaying the work for a month may well ease this.
  • You know you are getting best value when you procure, because the process is open and transparent.
  • You will save levels of profit and overheads by eliminating the main contractor — anywhere between five and 15 per cent is possible
  • The final fit and finish and specification is as detailed as you want it to be — as the project manager, you can look at the design, the drawings and the specification, and add as much additional detail, samples, mood boards and technical support as you feel is necessary to avoid any miscommunication/‘want of knowledge’ issues with the trades contractors doing the work.

Project Manager Cons

  • Are you ready for the level of input it requires? The time required to manage the scheme is always more than anyone planned — your build will require you to be on site each day (or at least a fair part of each day), and your evenings will be spent scheduling, procuring and planning.
  • The emotional investment required is immense — for every happy, fulfilled day on site, you will have a dark, depressing and debilitating day to match. The nature of co-ordinating trades, supplies, deliveries and site logistics is challenging, and is demanding even to those who have done it for years.
  • Do you have the right temperament for the role? If you can’t bear the thought of conflict with sometimes irate tradespeople, maybe you need to think again. If you know your admin and paperwork skills are poor, you may need additional resources to help you. Do you have a good head and patience for managing and predicting the interface between trades, materials and subcontractors — firefighting is not only exhausting but seldom successful.
  • You need to be sure of your contacts and links to the industry — how will you find bricklayers? Do you know a reliable electrician? Recommendation is useful, but research and more research is vital.
  • You are funding the scheme, and are responsible for each payment to each subcontractor and supplier individually — you will need to set up a payment ledger to manage this, along with the hassle of individual valuation and measurement of works done every month/week.
  • The lack of credit line facility may require greater cash flow consideration when self managing. You will need to make upfront payments for goods and fittings, and in many cases the availability of trade discounts will be less than for an established contractor, subsequently negating some of the savings achieved by self managing the works.
  • You will need to carry insurance for the site — individual trades will hold their own insurances, but these will be normally be limited to the value of the works they are carrying out.
  • Self-management requires a level of technical knowledge to ensure you understand the implications of the information you are dealing with. You also need to be confident that you can appreciate the subcontractors’ requirements, information and demands, and balance this with the legislative and practical demands of the wider scheme.
  • You need to be confident with scheduling, programming and preparation of short-term works programmes.
  • Health and safety on site will become your responsibility overall — the site is in your control.
  • Logistics will require planning — toilets, craneage, phone line, water, electricity, etc.

The self-managed route is ideally suited to:

People with plenty of time – or a lot of flexibility in their full-time jobs – who can handle stress and uncertainty; those living close to site and able to understand the building process.

Tips for Successful Project Management

  • Find and contact local tradesmen during the planning process and get them organised ready to start when you need them.
  • Run a site office with copies of plans, standard site equipment, a phone and shelter.
  • Keep a diary of each day’s events and organise your quotations, certificates, plans, receipts and contacts meticulously.
  • Draw up a project schedule which will help you organise when labour and materials are required.
  • Organise materials deliveries so that you don’t have expensive materials lying around in unlocked places.
  • Keep the site tidy each day — it will speed up work the day after and minimise accidents.
  • Find time to plan. Don’t get caught up in the detail of each day’s progress — you’ll need to be constantly thinking ahead.
  • Make decisions early and stick to them — the hubbub of a busy building site is no time to be making snap decisions about kitchens, flooring and design issues.
  • Plan ahead and use the slow months before work commences to research materials and ideas thoroughly.
  • Account for the VAT reclaim in your upfront cash-flow plans. You will get much of the VAT you spend back in the months after the build has finished, but you’ll still need to find the cash to pay for it upfront.

Build It Yourself: The DIY Route

How it Works

You physically build the house from scratch yourself. While there are some tasks that you can’t carry out without the help of qualified professionals (unless you intend to take training), it is in theory possible to construct a whole house using your own labour. You’ll also be responsible for interpreting design drawings, ordering materials (and, therefore, having a good grasp of quantities), liaising with warranty and building inspectors, taking deliveries and organising the day-to-day running of the site.

Your Input

See above. You’ll need to combine the physically demanding tasks of groundwork, bricklaying and roofing with skilled tasks such as plumbing and plastering. There is nothing to stop you mixing your own labour with bought-in labour where required. Bear in mind that your own lack of experience might mean that you are likely to be slower than those around you and you’ll need to ensure that you’re not holding up the build process.

Cost and Cash-flow Implications

DIY is the only way to build individual houses for incredibly tiny sums of money. Cash-flow implications are much easier to manage than with the other routes, as the only outgoings are for materials, for which you should arrange credit terms. You’ll need to factor in the lost earnings you’ll miss out on — particularly if you’re giving up work for a couple of years to take on this role.

Build It Yourself Pros

  • Massive cost savings.
  • Complete control over the project and no worries about finding labour.
  • Huge sense of achievement and knowledge of every detail of your finished house.

Build It Yourself Cons

  • Factor in the lost earnings you’re sacrificing.
  • Progress will be a lot slower than with professionals.
  • The quality of work produced might not be to professional standard.
  • Warranty and building inspectors are very likely to be a lot more stringent in their checks.

The DIY route is ideally suited to:

Either people who have been around the building industry and are willing to give up their time, or retirees who have a practical mind and can view the project as a hobby.

Mix and Match

Many self builders decide to mix and match several approaches. Projects can be split into different sections – commonly up to, and after, weathertight stage is reached – and different approaches taken for each section.

For instance, some package companies might let you take their design services and materials supply up to weathertight stage only. You might feel that you can handle the decorating and landscaping yourself but need a builder to manage the rest of the project for you. You might want a project manager for the critical first half of the build but feel you can handle organising the internal trades yourself.

It is up to you to work out an arrangement that works best.


Compromise: You can save money, save time or ensure top quality, but you can’t have all three. Decide on your approach and accept that you will have to invest something.

Be Realistic: If you’re both running fulltime jobs, managing a building site is not for you. Assess your own situation.

Put Something In: Regardless of your route, you’ll need to manage your project.

Using A Main Contractor

How it Works

The self builder employs a main contractor to run the building site on a day-to-day basis. This will usually involve the main contractor being responsible for:

  • organising a smooth flow of labour onto the site when necessary (and paying them directly),
  • dealing with the unloading of deliveries,
  • organising warranty and Building Regulations inspections,
  • running the site itself (e.g. health and safety, toilet facilities and so on),
  • working from the design plans.
  • The main contractor might also be responsible for ordering materials and ensuring they are on site when necessary.

Your Input

You will be responsible for hiring the main contractor in the first instance — so choose well. In addition, you’ll need to ensure that the main contractor has detailed building drawings to work from and, crucially, a detailed specification of materials – whether he is ordering them himself or not – as early as possible.

You should be prepared to visit the site at least once a week to check on progress, and to ensure that the drawings are being followed, and that the main contractor has everything he needs. It’s also important psychologically for the main contractor to see that his work is being appreciated and encouraged.

You will still need to be able to maintain telephone contact at any time for emergencies or questions as they arise — communication is critical to the success of this route.

Cost and Cash-flow Implications

Although the main contractor will be responsible for paying the subcontractors, you will need to ensure a regular payment to the main contractor. Many main contractors will give a fixed price quote at the tendering stage and will present you with a monthly invoice (showing the balance still owing along with any ‘extras’) that you should be prepared to pay promptly.

If you are leaving materials purchasing up to your main contractor, be aware that while many contractors have trade accounts (and, therefore, long credit terms) with many key suppliers, you might be required to pay upfront for some items. If this is the case, ensure that you get them ordered in your name.

A main contractor will rely on a percentage uplift or ‘add-on’ to the quotes he gets from his subcontractors to pay him for his own time. This varies according to the market, but is likely to be around 20-40% on top of labour and materials prices. However, many self builders who go down this route view the main contractor’s margin as money well spent to avoid the stresses and strains of running a building site day to day.

Main Contractor Pros

  • A good contractor will have experience and insight into the build and pre-empt many issues before they arise.
  • They’re experienced in programming and procurement scheduling.
  • They are responsible for health and safety on site.
  • They’ll carry insurances for the works.
  • Payments and cash flow of the trades are the contractor’s responsibility.
  • The contractor’s credit lines ensure efficient cash flow.
  • The range of contacts and sources of materials is extensive and generally very reliable.
  • The use of a fixed-price contract gives an element of cost certainty, which helps both your planning, and the lender’s level of comfort.
  • Logistics and day-to-day running should be efficient and timely, and the site left clean and safe each day as part of the contractor’s working practices.
  • You make one payment each agreed period (usually monthly) to the contractor, which cuts down the complexity considerably.

Main Contractor Cons

  • Added cost: the contractor will have built in a level of profit into your contract price.
  • The scheduling and programming is out of your control.
  • The additional level of communication between you and the trades on site is held by the main contractor, which can give rise to cost increases to cover the contractor’s overheads and management of any changes.
  • The solvency of the contractor is essential to the smooth running of the site.
  • The contractor may make assumptions in the event that you are not around constantly — your specification documentation must be as comprehensive as possible to avoid unexpected issues.
  • Your control over the supply chain stops with the main contractor, which is less hassle for you, but more reliance is then placed on your documentation and specification to ensure you get what you think you are getting.
  • If you delay or stop the work for whatever reason, the contract may well contain provision for payment of loss of profit to the contractor — generally once the contract starts, it is financially vital that it finishes!
  • The feeling of empowerment you get from managing the process is lost when a main contractor is engaged — equally, the feeling of despair when it is stressful is lost too!

The main contractor route is ideally suited to:

Busy full-time workers and those who live a long way from their building site; people who have never built their own home before and might not be confident of the process. While you’ll still need to be able to get to site at short notice and field telephone calls, it takes the daily stresses away.

Package Company

How it Works

Package companies – also called ‘turnkey’ suppliers or ‘design and build’ companies – provide a one-stop-shop solution to the housebuilding process. They usually offer design, labour/construction and material supply as part of a fixed price contract. While most package companies operate in the timber frame sector, where they offer manufacture of the frame and erection, a few package suppliers offer traditional masonry construction.

The good news is that the traditional view of these companies – that they offer a limited range of standard house designs and tie the self builder into a complete and expensive onestop solution with a modest choice of finishing materials – no longer applies. Most now offer an effective bespoke approach that can be individually tailored to a self builder’s requirements and circumstances. For instance:

  • offering bespoke designs from an in-house designer
  • having a list of approved contractors to choose from rather than a staff team
  • the ability for you in some cases to opt out of parts of the package and choose your own finishing materials.

The reality is that the self builder can find a package company that will assist their project in any way they require.

The usual route is for the package supplier to:

  • carry out an initial site assessment
  • come up with a design and deal with planning issues
  • either manufacture the frame or arrange for materials to be delivered (or both)
  • arrange labour or assist in finding it (and liaise directly with the labour)
  • provide finishing materials.

Some may be willing to carry out project management services.

Your Input

Limited — which is the key reason why people choose this route. In theory the self builder can get as involved as they would like to, both on a project management or physical basis.

Cost and Cash-flow Implications:

Most package companies in the timber frame sector require payment upfront before the manufacture and supply of the frame (this was one of the initial reasons behind the conception of the advanced funding mortgages described earlier). Generally package companies, while offering free design services, will require regular payments (as a percentage of the total fixed price contract) throughout the process.

The package company route is likely to cost more than supplying materials yourself and is comparable to getting your builder to supply materials for you. You will save the significant early payments that an architect would require and benefit from the knowledge that the package company’s designers are well versed in relating their designs to your build budget — something independent architects are not necessarily renowned for. This alone makes the extra costs worthwhile for many self builders.

Package Company Pros

  • Saves dealing with architects and ensures build costs are realistically tied in with the house design.
  • The most hassle-free way to build.
  • Many package companies have lists of approved contractors, bypassing the difficult issues of finding labour.
  • Package companies provide reassurance and moral support during the process.
  • Their buying power enables them to negotiate discounts with key materials suppliers that individuals might not be able to enjoy.
  • Some package companies provide assistance with initial issues, like finding and assessing land, planning permission and Building Regulations, that would otherwise be left to the self builder.

Package Company Cons

  • Limiting your own input invariably means paying for someone else’s — this is not a cheap alternative, although it might be cost-effective.
  • The quality of the design depends on the skills of a limited choice of in-house designers — some are great, some are moderate.
  • Some package companies offer a limited choice of finishing materials.
  • Many require significant upfront payments.

The package company route is ideally suited to:

Self builders who require a helping hand with their project, because they are busy or inexperienced in the building industry. Package companies provide solutions to the numerous problems that self builders face: from finding and assessing land to finding labour.

Build Calculators

A wealth of advise is available online for calculating your self build costs and correctly they all say “each build is different” and Flosh Meadows management have an article which rather harshly has the title “Self Build is not for wimps”.

Most sensible calculators show a wide range of costs from £700 to £1500 per square metre where the costs are fully dependant on how much work you personally intend to do.

Our favourite calculator still remains “The Housebuilders Bible” Mark Brinkley has produced the best reference book frequently updated for all self builders and he is a helpful nice guy as well.

Other excellent self build cost calculators can be seen at:

Estimating your self build costs is fundamental to your project planning.

The Self Build Guide



Let’s look at the factors that affect self build costs and how to work out how much yours might be.

Calculating a ball-park figure allows you to:

  • Decide if it is economically viable to build your own home.
  • Work backwards to calculate how much you can afford to spend on a plot of land.
  • Assess your borrowing needs.
  • Get an idea of the house you can build within your budget.

Factors Affecting Self Build Costs

The cost of building a house is affected by many factors including:

Build Method

Most build cost calculators work on traditional masonry or timber frame build costs. If you are interested in a specialist build method you should contact specialist companies for estimates. Have a look at the house construction methods available to you.

Geographical Location

Variations in material, labour and equipment prices affect the total build cost. As you’d expect, London is the most expensive area, followed by the South East. The Midlands, Yorkshire, Wales and the North East are the cheapest.

Build Route

The more you do, the more you save. Employing a package company increases the price but reduces the stress. Visit our build route page to look at the options.


Economies of scale apply. Pound per square metre build costs reduce as the size of the property increases. Each additional floor becomes more cost effective than the last.

Materials and Design

Your choice of materials and bespoke design items will have a considerable influence on the cost of building a house.

  • Build Quality
  • Better quality = more expensive
  • Site Conditions

Contaminated ground, a steep slope or a location in the back of beyond can all wreak havoc with your budget. The actual impact on your build costs are often difficult to predict.

Garages and Outbuildings

Garages and outbuildings must be accounted for. It is usually recommended to budget the same £/m2 for garages as for the main house.

The Building Costs

Build costs are referred to in Pounds per square metre (£/m2) with m2 being the total internal floor area of your proposed home.

Depending on the influence of the factors mentioned above, a traditional masonry or timber frame build in the UK can range anywhere from £550/m2 to £1700/m2.

This variance is by no means restrictive and a cutting edge design and build could come in well above the top figure. If you are considering this, speak to your architect or designer about cost implications.

Build Costs Calculators

To achieve an accurate estimate, have a look at build cost calculator. It is found near the back pages of their magazine and is a great tool. Their figures are regularly updated in line with the Build Cost Information Service (BCIS) of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) who provide the industry standard in estimating rebuild costs for insurance purposes.

H and R’s calculator generates an initial figure based on floor area, build route, standard of finish and area of the country. It then takes you step by step through adjustments for factors such as slope of site and use of basement or roof space. The result is a good build cost estimate that reflects your plans.

There are some simple and free calculators available online including Buildstore’s – Build Costs Calculator which can quickly give you a rough idea of overall costs.

Other Costs to Remember

People often like to add up the actual build costs and pretend that some others don’t exist. This is bad practice, always budget for everything and remember to include:

  • Land purchase – Solicitor’s fees, stamp duty, other costs.
  • Professional fees – Architects, Planning Consultants, Engineers, etc.
  • Borrowing costs – Interest payments and set up costs. Click for more on mortgages.

The significance of these costs will be specific to your individual project. If they are relevant then the cost implications should be noted.

The Next Step

By estimating your self build costs you can assess the feasibility of building, set a budget for your plot or begin the design process in earnest. As you move forward you’ll need an accurate set of projected costs which can be used to assist with the design and project management of your build. Our money matters section looks at all things financial in more detail including building up your cost projections.

All this talk of self build costs is a bit draining! It is good to remember that by doing it yourself you can save up to 25% of the value of the completed property.

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