How much of the build can I do myself?

Hands-on selfbuilders can do much of the labour themselves, using what building skills they already have, learning new ones and working alongside tradespeople hired for specific jobs. This is the cheapest approach to self build, but also the hardest.

Most selfbuilders fall between the two, buying, for example, a timber-frame design off a package company who erect it, but then hiring in subcontractors to clad it, roof it and fit out the interior.

Many selfbuilders manage their own projects. Others, less confident or experienced, prefer to hire a professional project manager. It is advisable to have access to someone whose expertise and judgement you trust – if only for reassurance.

Traditionally, architects have fulfilled this role, but other building professionals, such as a building surveyor or a retired building inspector, can help. Professional project managers – sometimes experienced selfbuilders – also exist. Many people, however, hire a single contractor often on the basis of having worked with them before, or having seen examples of their work.

If you fancy the hands-on route, there are many specialist courses in everything from bricklaying to plumbing. Each month there are details of these are in the Diary section of SelfBuild & Design magazine, and general self build courses are offered by the National Self Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon.

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