Self building can have many technical and confusing aspects, even at a self build development such as Graven Hill. We hope that this checklist will go some of the way to demystifying what the key aspects you should be thinking about for your self build are. You can download a PDF version of the full checklist here. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it will be a great place to start and to make sure you are considering your self build project from all angles. Our hope is that this checklist benefits all kinds of self builders.
Part two will cover everything up until the build being completed on site. It’s good to have an idea of this part of the process from early on. You can find part one of the checklist here.
Part Two: Plot Passport, Golden Brick and Building On Site
Some of the first major milestones along your Graven Hill self build journey will be getting planning approval, something that is called ‘Plot Passport’ in Graven Hill language, and sorting out your VAT exempt ‘Golden Brick’ price (basically receiving your plot from Graven Hill so that you can begin your self build). Here are some of the main points to keep in mind for this stage of the self build process. Remember, the technicalities here can only be properly navigated by a professional who understands the Graven Hill processes. Make sure you are comfortable with the architect you have chosen to guide you through the process so that they can shed light on the process and keep you in control.
The final stretch, and one of the most exciting parts of the self build journey, is seeing your design come to life on site. The procurement route you decide to go down will be one of the biggest factors in how you navigate this part of the self build. Make sure that your architect can filter the noise and is keeping you informed so that you can be involved with important decisions on site. With a good Architect you can be in control throughout the build rather than a passenger. Here are some key things to be thinking about as you start to consider the on-site build.
Your Plot and Your Plot Passport
☑ Graven Hill will give you a programme, but your designer will help you navigate it
☑ Make sure you are spending enough time at the beginning to get your design locked in, it is not easy to change your design past this point
☑ Read through your Plot Passport before you buy a plot, but also remind yourself as you enter the design stage. Your architect will help you to pick up on the key parts of the plot passport, but here are the main things to keep an eye out for
☑ Remember each plot passport is unique so read it carefully
☑ Check the foundation types
☑ Check what materials you can use and what the design code is
☑ Check the rules on the height of the building (this can vary between different parts of the same plot, so watch out for that)
☑ Check the maximum area you’re allowed to build (this also affects the maximum basement size you can have)
☑ Check what landscaping you might need
☑ Check the invert levels for the drains
☑ Remember about bin stores and bike stores as well
☑ Your architect will take the time to carefully check through your plot passport and relay back to you the most important points that might affect your particular self build
☑ Remember that a plot passport is designed to speed up planning, so instead of the usual 8 weeks it should be signed off in 4 weeks, if you can comply with it
☑ You can, in some cases, go beyond plot passport specifications by doing a reserved matters application (this is treated like a normal planning application). A good example might be widening the driveway.
☑ The main reason behind Golden Brick is to allow Graven Hill to sell you a plot without incurring VAT. They do this by handing over your plot to you with part of your home built, up to ‘Golden Brick’ (or in technical jargon, DPC level which is two bricks up from ground level)
☑ Remember that Graven Hill are responsible for all these works up to this point and will use their own engineers, but your designer needs to coordinate with them
☑ Keep in mind that if you change your mind on certain factors after this point, there might be additional costs if you have to go back through the Golden Brick design process
☑ You will find out the Golden Brick price just before you exchange and after Graven Hill has completed all of their technical work
☑ Don’t worry – your architect will help you to think about the right things at the right time
☑ lapd Architects set out your programme with clear deadlines for when various key events need to happen to keep in line with Graven Hill’s expectations
Exchanging with Graven Hill, choosing Build Methods and On Site Management
☑ Once the price has been confirmed, the Golden Brick works will then be carried out on site within 12 weeks. After this the plot and site are handed over to you to start your above Golden Brick construction with your chosen contractors
☑ By this point you should have considered what build method you want to use. Your architect should be able to help you to pick what procurement route is best for you.
☑ Option 1, traditional procurement: making one payment to one company. You hold a retention sum as incentive for your contractor to complete the works to an appropriate standard
☑ Option 2, full self build: responsibility for the construction will lie with different trades who carried out the work. This can mean it’s difficult to pin down who’s responsible for what (for example, a settlement crack in the wall – decorator blames plasterer who blames wall builder who blames foundations). A main contractor route stops this happening as the blame stops with them. You are also responsible for health and safety and scheduling sub-contractors which is a large time commitment. If you do go this route then you will need someone to help you manage the site.
☑ Option 3, Design and Build: it’s meant to be a fixed price from day one. Negatives are that you are limited on design options and all your eggs are in one basket, with little choice on how it’s built. Architects can work with these systems to push them to their limits and get the best possible designs out of them.
☑ lapd Architects offer on-site services
☑ We can fully project manage your self build
☑ We can also offer site intervention, not offering the full administrative contract admin service but giving you and your builder reassurance that we are still involved
☑ Make sure that you allow yourself more time than you think you will need to allow yourself once your build goes on site. It is more time consuming than you think.