We have sat down here at lapd Architects and pooled our knowledge about Graven Hill processes and self build journeys to create a checklist for all self builders (and specifically those who are thinking about purchasing a plot at Graven Hill). You can download a PDF version of the full checklist here. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it will help you to think about some of the key decisions that you will encounter along your self build journey. We believe that the best way to self build your dream home is to work with a knowledgeable self build Architect that you trust. Our hope is that this checklist benefits all kinds of self builders.
Part one will cover everything up until the concept design stage, so even if you haven’t even reserved a plot at Graven Hill yet you can be thinking about all of the points you find on this page. You can find part two of the checklist here.
Part One: Preparation before Concept Design
The longest period of any self build is the point from which you begin to think about the possibility of your dream self build to when you first meet an architect. This part of the journey can take anywhere from a year to a few decades. This checklist is a good starting point for making sure you are thinking about all aspects of your self build up until deciding to commit to a Graven Hill plot and work with an Architect you can trust to guide you along your self build journey. You only self build once. Make sure it is a home that works for you and your life.
Design: your life and your plot
☑ Be ambitious at the beginning, everything will be tempered and tested throughout the design stage and cost control stage
☑ Create a collage book
☑ Create a Pinterest board
☑ Read magazines for inspiration, such as Build It Magazine
☑ Read design and self build blogs
☑ Think about must-haves and would-likes
☑ Look for ideas about buildings you like and home styles you think would work for you
☑ Your ideas don’t all have to be buildings: they could be crockery, paintings etc. – your architects will worry about specifics
☑ Visit the Self-build Education House at Graven Hill
☑ Think about how you will live in your home: what are your habits?
☑ What are the busiest times in your schedule?
☑ What gets in the way of you having that valuable family time/ me time?
☑ Do you normally relax in the kitchen or in the living room?
☑ Consider Indoor-outdoor flexible living space such as bi-folds, sliding panels and level thresholds
☑ Think about outdoor kitchens, outdoor lighting and seasonal design features
☑ Consider how to best use natural daylight and sun paths to your advantage
☑ Think about what you want from a plot when choosing which one to reserve
☑ Check the plot passports of the plot you are thinking of buying
☑ Visit Graven Hill and talk to their team at the Plot Shop
☑ Does your plot slope and will this affect your build?
☑ Where will the sun rise and where will it set in relation to your plot?
☑ Are you nestled between other plots or will you find windy days particularly affect you?
☑ Where is your plot’s nicest focus points/ features for a view?
☑ Think about how you will build your home. Work with flexible Architects who are comfortable with all procurement routes and build technologies
☑ Remember: this stage is not an exact science, working with an architect who can design around your life will ensure that all these things and more are taken into account
Costs: financial and non-financial
☑ Think about how you will budget for your home
☑ Engage with mortgage advisors
☑ Use Build Store as a useful financial resource
☑ Remember that lapd Architects offer a cost plan
☑ Your realistic budget should include: build cost, golden brick cost, professional fees, other consultant fees, landscaping costs, contingency money, acknowledgement of future running costs
☑ Consider long term running costs, can you lump this in with your main mortgage?
☑ Running costs, after the initial hit of the front end expenditure, are especially important for people in the later years of life
☑ Future proofing: running costs, sustainability, having the option to create a downstairs bedroom in the future
☑ If you are at work all day maybe an electric heating system would suffice?
☑ Don’t just think spec, think application.
☑ How sustainable will your home be? Passivhaus or a fabric first approach?
☑ Read our simple guide to sustainability
Architects: a guide you can trust
☑ Speak to an architect. lapd Architects offer a free initial consultation
☑ Are your architects listening to you?
☑ Are they affordable (relative to the expense of self building and the expertise they offer)?
☑ Remember architects are there to help you and guide you toward your finished dream home
☑ You should be confident that your architect can deliver great design, which is ultimately the whole point of self building your own home
☑ Your architect will also mediate between other professionals, such as Structural Engineers and Contractors
☑ lapd Architects offer cost control, are your architects thinking realistically?
☑ Architects should be skilled and knowledgeable in technical design, sustainability and procurement
☑ Do they have expertise and experience at Graven Hill specifically? Graven Hill is not the same as self building elsewhere. lapd Architects have extensive knowledge concerning Graven Hill.
☑ Graven Hill will give you a massive programme with loads of information – don’t be overwhelmed, work with professionals who know the process
☑ lapd can guide you through Graven Hill processes without feeling rushed
☑ As soon as you commit to a plot your clock starts ticking, so make sure to commit to an architect at this point as well so that as much time as possible can be spent focussing on design and cost control.
☑ Remember that changing things further down the line will be costly in terms of time and money.