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Last edited 18 Dec 2020
Self-build home: Appoint a supplier to design a kit house
Kit homes will tend to be procured through a process of research or recommendation, rather than through a competitive selection process. The supplier of the kit house is offering a product and it is the self builder’s responsibility to determine whether the product is likely to suit their needs or not. It is important therefore when purchasing a kit house to visit a similar completed kit house to get a sense of how the building is likely to feel and to assess the quality of workmanship that can be expected.
Other than the style, quality and flexibility of the kit offered by a supplier, it is also important to consider the extent of the service being offered. Some suppliers will simply provide a shell for the self builder to fit out, whilst others might offer a full, turnkey service, even helping to arrange a mortgage.
- Obtaining necessary statutory approvals (such as planning permission and building regulations approval).
- Providing utilities to the site (such as water, electricity, gas, telecoms, drainage and so on).
- Providing a foundation slab.
- Fitting out the interior.
- Landscaping and providing access to the site (this might include; paths, drives, ramps, steps and so on).
The supplier may be able to help with some of these tasks (for example consulting with the local planning authority and obtaining building regulations approvals) or may be able suggest contractors or consultants that can help.
At this stage, any formal appointment should only be for design services, with agreement to purchase the kit house delayed until the design has developed satisfactorily, and a price and programme agreed.
Payment terms will vary depending on the supplier. Sometimes fees are required for design, planning application and building regulations applications as well as stage payments during fabrication and installation. Payments that have been made for design fees are sometimes deducted from the overall price when the main supply contract is signed.
It is important to ensure the kit house comes with a suitable warranty covering design, materials and workmanship, and that any fixtures and fittings are covered as well as the buildings fabric (albeit they may be covered by a separate, shorter-term warranty).
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