Last edited 04 Dec 2014

Self-build home: Develop a delivery strategy

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Having selected the preferred plot, a strategy should be prepared that sets out how the project will be taken forward. Expert advice may be beneficial in developing a delivery strategy.

Choose a procurement strategy.

There are a number of different ways a self-build home can be procured:

(1) Appoint consultants to design the home, then get a contractor to build it.

This is the 'traditional' form of procurement. Consultants are employed, such as an architect, structural engineer and possibly a cost consultant. They develop a design, submit a planning application and prepare a set of tender drawings which are used to obtain prices from contractors. A contractor is then appointed to construct the home. The design team may continue to be employed to carry out site inspections during the construction process and to administer the construction contract. This system gives certainty in terms of cost, quality and programme at the point when the contract is entered into. However, it can be slow, and changes that occur after the price has been agreed can be costly.

(2) Appoint consultants to design the home, then manage the construction yourself.

This involves directly contracting all the trades necessary to construct the building, rather than appointing one main contractor who then appoints sub-contractors to construct the building. Providing it is well managed, this offers the greatest opportunity for savings and some flexibility for changes during construction. However it carries the greatest risk in terms of keeping to budget and programme because responsibility is fragmented among many different parties. The biggest problem is sequencing the work to minimise return visits, delays and disruption which can result in claims for non-productive time. If properly managed however, this route can save money on all the mark ups on the supply chains of goods and services that accumulate under traditional forms of contracting. It is also possible to benefit from discounts available on building supplies. See Self-build homes negotiating discounts for more information.

(3) Appoint a design and build contractor to design and build the home.

A single contractor is appointed to design and construct the home. This has the advantage of a single point of responsibility for delivery, but the price may reflect the contractor’s risk, and the absence of independent design consultants can result in lower standards of quality. Design and build can be procured as a two-stage process, with an initial appointment for design only, and then when the design has been agreed, a further appointment to construct. This has the advantage of not committing to the full contract until the design has been agreed, but as there is no effective competition when the construction contract is entered into, it can be more expensive.

(4) Purchase a kit house.

Prefabricated kit houses vary widely in cost and quality, but are quick to install once the foundations and incoming services have been provided. Design liability lies with the manufacturer providing and installing the kit. The end cost is unlikely to change from the initial quotation and quality should be consistent from one project to the next. However, kit houses generally involve works outside the main contract, such as utilities supply, construction of the slab foundation, landscaping and so on. See Kit house for more information.

(5) Work with others

It is also possible to work with other organisations such as social landlords, developers, or community groups to develop a self-build home, however, these projects are likely to follow a plan imposed by the lead organisation and so they are not covered here, although many of the project stages will be similar. Working with a developer is sometimes called ‘custom build’ rather than ‘self build’. See Custom-build home for more information.

Develop an organisational structure

Once the procurement route has been selected, it is important to establish an outline organisational structure for the project setting out the roles, responsibilities and authorities of the people that will deliver the project.

The project management of design and construction can be undertaken by the self builder themselves or may be contracted out to a professional consultant. Do not to under-estimate the time that needs to be devoted to a self-build project. The construction stage in particular can be very time consuming and benefits from experience.

Next stage: Raise finance.

List of all stages.