21 May 2020

Thinking of undertaking a self-build?

TRADA image

Peter and Sheila Lowe secured planning approval for a one-level retirement home in Meadowhill, Aberdeenshire, in August 2018 and, by March 2020, they’d moved in.


Their new home, which was built on a 1.3-acre plot located on farmland and surrounded by forestry, rests on a lovely hilltop which gives a complete 360-degree view of the area. It features two wings which each lead off a central entranceway. To the right is an open plan living, dining and kitchen area, plus snug. To the left are three bedrooms, including a master with ensuite, and a further bathroom with a ‘Jack and Jill’ entrance. A utility room and double garage complete the property. The external cladding is a mixture of stone, timber and render with a metal roof, all designed to minimise future maintenance.


Peter and Sheila opted for timber frame specialist and TRADA member Scotframe, because they knew they wanted their new home to be energy-efficient, maintenance free/friendly, and able to be built to an agreed build schedule.


Peter says: ‘Baxter Design Company suggested Scotframe and, specifically, their Val-U-Therm PLUS closed wall panels for their thermal properties and speed of construction. The panels come to site ready to be assembled with insulation already fitted – so that saves so much time.


‘We really appreciated that Scotframe had an office in Inverurie and, from a technical perspective, this construction method seemed to fit the bill very well. It was a more expensive option initially, but we know that in the long term we will recoup this additional cost via significantly lower energy bills.’


He added: ‘Scotframe supplied the wall and roof panels, plus absolutely everything else required for the fit such as skirting boards, shelving, wardrobes, internal doors – even down to the fixings and nails to put it all together.’


Top tips for undertaking a self-build

  1. Do your homework before you break ground. Learn about building processes, jargon, terminology, so that you have a better understanding in discussions with your contractors.
  2. Get as many bids as you can: Ask companies if they will bid – don’t assume they will just because you send a tender to them.
  3. Use a Quantity Surveyor to keep a handle on costs. Your architect can advise on who to use. A QS will help construct the bid package, bid evaluation and help manage expenditure throughout the build.
  4. A lead contractor cuts down on the amount of paperwork you have to manage personally and they also take care of the VAT, saving you having to claim it back at the end of the project. Try to find one who is skilled at his trade and also good at managing sub-contractors. You need both skill sets.
  5. Paint a picture: Show the tradesmen images of your finished kitchen or bathroom. We pinned ours to the walls, so they could see what we wanted the end result to be. They told us it helped.
  6. Decisions: be prepared to make decisions all day long!