Our Process – Self-Build Homes
Have you had enough of uninspiring houses that don’t meet your expectations? Are you interested in building your own home? If so, Self-Build might be the option for you.
Self-building is the action of commissioning your own home, the design tailored to reflect your requirements, your life style and your budget. Your role within the process can be as varied as the designs. So, if the thought of digging footing in the rain or tiling the roof in a force nine gale leaves you cold, fear not, you can leave this to a build team.
Designing and building your own home allows you to avoid the issues of the mainstream, to achieve a beautiful, comfortable and functional home. It gives you the option of exceeding building regulations to avoid draughts, design out cold bridges and minimise heating costs. We believe that Passivhaus is the best standard to build, it ensures you home is comfortable and economical to run without compromising on design.
As Architects and environmental consultants, the Eco Design Consultants team are perfectly suited to provide the required architectural support to your project. We understand the difficulties faced by self-builders so we will endeavour to guide you through each step of your project. While working with you to tailor our service to match your requirements to ensure that you successfully achieve your dream home.
The process begins with a free initial consultation to allow us to develop an understanding of your requirements and strategic brief. Getting to know you gives us an appreciation of what your dream home consists of, an understanding of the way you live and allows us to begin tailoring our service to these.
The consultation gives you an insight into the process and the way we work, to see if we’re a good fit to your project. You’ll have the opportunity to ask lots of questions about the self-build process, environmental standards and the role of the architect, please allow an hour and a half for this meeting.
Eco Design Consultants fee proposals are split into stages, with fixed prices. The fee is a reflection of the time we believe that we will need to spend on each stage. Our fees are fixed in advance so that you know the costs before committing. We believe this is a fairer method then the more traditional percentage based system which calculates fees based on build cost.
We would encourage you to speak to more than one architects and ask for a fee proposal from those who you feel you could work comfortably with. The self-build process will take a minimum of 18-months, much more in some cases, so it is important that you are confident in your architect and their team. Fees are important yes, but it is also important that the fee proposal reflects the subtleties of your project. Ensure that the document reflects the points that you discussed during your initial consultation, your objectives for the build.
Concept design is where your ideas start to become a design. We’ll work with you to develop a briefing document that will be used throughout the life of your project. We will challenge you in some areas so that we can get a full understanding of your requirements. We will also carry out a site analysis highlighting the locations constraints and opportunities. A measured site survey and topographical survey may also be required and we will help you in procuring this. As environmental consultants, we will avoid cold bridges and optimise form factor, while still achieving the aesthetic you require.
We will produce two design options, which reflect your requirements and preferences then meet with you to agree a final option, usually this is an amalgamation of optional. This final design will form the basis for a pre-planning discussion with the local planning department.
Once we have had a response from the local authority we will update the design if required, and suggest that we model your design in Passivhaus (PHPP) software to enable the design to be optimised for solar gain whilst balancing the thermal performance, function and good design. We will explore with you the effects of alternative window and insulation choices, and the effects any architectural features.
Using the PHPP information and the updated drawings we will produce a basic specification, enabling a quantity surveyor to provide an outline costing to ensure its financial feasibility. We will then develop your design into a full planning application, including a design and access statement.
“Your planning application document looks very professional and strikes just the right tone explaining, and justifying the design to the planning officers. I was very pleased, however not surprised, to see it pass in one go.”
Bart H, Client
Working drawings are the technical design of your home, this is where we break down the design into detail. Each detail will contain the architectural, structural and building information need to build your home on site. We’ll coordinate work with the structural engineer and other specialists involved in the design to develop the construction drawings and discharge planning conditions.
Eco Design Consultants working drawing package includes the additional information required by a Passivhaus self-builder, the technical detail to ensure a thermally efficient build. The package will include specifications for insulation and details on achieving a continuous airtightness barrier. This is where our drawings really differ, they include the information required to achieve the aesthetic finish and environmental standard you have specified rather than leaving it to different trades on site. It would be impossible, for example, to achieve the airtightness required for Passivhaus if this was not agreed in advance with each trade assuming a different plan, resulting in gaps where one trade leaves and another starts.
As your project begins on-site as your architect we will continue to support your design through contract administration, including regular site inspections and review of progress. We would be responsible for ensuring that the contract documentation is accurate, appropriate and all items under the contract such as variations and certificates are properly signed and issued. This usually involves visiting site monthly.
To assist with the certification process we will finalise the PHPP model and collate information on the performance of the building. It’s important to collect data through the build to avoid certifiers having to assume averages. We would also liaise with the certifier throughout the process, assist with snagging, liaise with certification bodies.
This final stage in the RIBA plan of works has the catchy title of “handover and close out.” As a self-builder, you’ll see the construction teams leave, the dust levels reduce and you can move in. Depending on your role during the build process some of the decorating and interior design may be outstanding. The hard landscaping such has the driveways may be complete but the garden is ready for a makeover. We will help you understand how your building and controls work and generally be available to address any questions you have. We also ask you how the project went, and how we can improve our service for others.
Design Process Infographic
As an indication we have set out our fees for a 4 bedroom, 2 storey, 170 m2 home, built to Passivhaus standard. The build process took 9 months. The budget for the project as approximately £350,000. The figures are quoted without VAT. Application costs and other consultants fees are excluded but our specialist Passivhaus analysis is included.
Concept design – £4,000
Planning – £4,500
Working Drawings – £16,500
Site support – £8,700
Are you considering a self-build project? Book a free project feasibility call. On this 20-minute phone call, we’ll ask you lots of questions so you can identify any potential project roadblocks and spot any risks. You’ll get clarity about what you need to do right now to build the foundation for a great project. If we can help you, we’ll tell you about how we work so that you can see if we’re a good fit — if not, we’ll recommend someone who can.