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How to build your own home If you’ve watched one episode of Grand Designs too many and have been bitten by the self-build bug, be prepared for a bumpy ride. While you’ll (hopefully) build the home of your dreams, it can be a long, stressful and expensive process and there are lots of things to consider before the building work can begin. Unless you’re able to section off part of your garden and get planning permission to build on it, you’ll obviously need a plot of land. Finding a plot that already has detailed planning permission for a house will remove much of the risk, but, of course, it’s unlikely to be the house you want. Unless the plans can be changed, you may prefer to take a risk on a plot without planning permission, or with outline planning permission - this grants permission on the principle that the land can be developed, while detailed planning specifies the design of the building. Finding a suitable plot can be a struggle, especially in big cities. You can search for land on property websites such as www.zoopla.co.uk and www.rightmove. co.uk, where it’s for sale through estate agents. Land agents, who specialise in selling land, and auction houses are often a better bet, as are specialist plot websites, such as PlotSearch at www.buildstore.co.uk. Local newspapers and property magazines may contain ads for land for sale, or you could place a ‘land wanted’ ad. You could even drive or cycle around your search area, looking for land that’s for sale or may be suitable as a building plot. Don’t discount derelict buildings - knocking something down and starting again can be a good way to get a great plot, and sometimes the property doesn’t have to be derelict for the numbers to stack up. As well as the location and chances of obtaining planning permission, consider the value of the land (or rather its value to you) and how you can get services and vehicles to it. Poor access will make the project harder and more expensive, and could even stop it from getting off the ground. As well as a plot, a good architect is essential. Not only will they translate your vision into reality, they can also enhance it with ideas of their own, coming up with things you hadn’t thought of and solving problems. Even once the plans are done, a good architect is invaluable, as they can help you obtain planning

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permission, can manage the build and the prebuild process, and can source and manage the various professionals and contractors needed. While you can do this yourself, it’s not something recommended for novice self-builders, although it doesn’t deter most of those featured on Grand Designs. By Julia Gray

TOP TIP If your white melamine furniture looks tired because it has yellowed over time. Re-whiten it by sanding it, cleaning it and painting it with melamine primer, then apply melamine topcoat or use standard (water-based) white gloss, satinwood or eggshell - it’ll look like new.

Living Along The Thames Maidenhead June/July 2013  

View our latest Local Lifestyle magazine for residents for Maidenhead, Cookham and Bray in the Thames Valley. With regular features and art...