Home Building and Renovations in the UK

From building a new home for your family to renovating a property for re-sale, there are a number of reasons to undertake a house building or renovating project. These types of projects can be rewarding and at the same time intimidating. Being prepared for home building and renovation projects will help ensure a successful outcome.

Planning Permission

Planning permission is needed when undertaking certain types of building works. It is granted or refused by local planning authorities such as a planning department or council, who may also impose certain conditions when approving a proposed project.

Party Walls and Building Work

Party walls are typically found in semi-detached and terraced houses. Any works that affects these walls can result in serious structural problems and inconvenience to neighbouring properties. There are certain rights and responsibilities that homeowners...

Choosing a Qualified Builder

An experienced builder is essential for any project, particularly when a homeowner's DIY skills go beyond the complexity of certain projects. Builders help prevent mistakes that can be costly and take a lot of time to fix. Hiring a well-trained and experienced builder is vital. To find a reputable...

Home Building and Renovations in the UK

Home building and renovating is big business in the UK. According to AMA Research's Building and Home Improvement Products Distribution Market Report UK 2013-2017 Analysis, the sector was worth approximately £37.5 billion in 2012 while overall construction output was valued at around £115 billion. In 2012-13, construction started on 101,640 new homes in England and Wales according to the Home Builders Federation. In the same period, 107,820 homes were completed. In Scotland, 14,815 new homes were completed in 2013 according to Scottish Government. Although there has been modest growth in recent years, the UK continues to experience some of the lowest house building rates recorded.

Be Prepared

Before undertaking any project, do research into the land or property and have a survey done. If buying land, make sure you consider the location carefully and connections to existing and planned amenities and services, including transportation links, utility connections, medical and education services, shops and recreation. You should only undertake a project that you can afford or that you expect to get a profit when selling.

Having clearly defined objectives and goals is also crucial. Knowing exactly what you want will help with establishing a realistic budget. It will also help to know what you want when you have discussions with builders, contractors, architects and others. If you are undertaking a home building or renovation project for the first time, try to start off modestly with a new kitchen or bathroom or redecorating and modernising an interior space. Attempting a complete building or rebuilding project without expert help could become a daunting and time-consuming task, as well as a potential money pit.

Employing Qualified Experts

In most cases, amateur developers will need to seek advice or assistance when building a new home or renovating a property. Many builders and tradespeople will provide free estimates that can help you establish a realistic budget before undertaking the work yourself or hiring experts. Hiring qualified builders and contractors has the benefit of giving you the peace of mind that works will meet building regulations and other safety standards. You will also avoid making costly mistakes with the help of an experienced builder or contractor. A contractor should have a local office and been in business for several years. Always check customer references and request examples of previous work, and avoid contractors that request full upfront and cash payments.

Important Resources

Certain work will require planning permission and must comply with building regulations. The government's online Planning Portal provides valuable information on what type of works require planning permission. The gateway also features tips and considerations for specific types of projects. The Energy Saving Trust provides details on how to undertake building and renovation works that are environmentally sustainable and energy efficient, which will save homeowners in the long-term on energy bills. Local authorities are also a helpful source of information about planning and building requirements.

According to the National House Building Council, 80 per cent of new homes in the UK are built by registered builders. Finding the right builder or contractor will influence how well a project goes. It is important to find someone that can be trusted. A number of resources help homeowners and property developers narrow their choices, including Buildernet. The Federation of Master Builders and the National House Building Council are also excellent resources to find registered builders. Qualified contracts are also listed on the government's Competent Person Register.

Certain work might need a specialist, like an architect, plumber, roofer or bathroom installer. There are a number of organisations that certify tradespeople in specific fields, many of which are affiliated with the Federation of Master Builders. Trade associations include the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors, the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineers, and the British Institute of Interior Design. The Gas Safe Register also lists qualified and certified contractors that are legally permitted to work with gas, including boiler and heating system installers.

The Joint Contracts Tribunal provides standard forms of contract as well as guidance notes and other documents for the construction sector. The standard and user-friendly contract can be used between property owners and builders. Having a contract is important since it outlines exactly what work is expected, as well as out terms such as price, payment schedule, working hours, guarantees and dispute resolution.