Which Build Route do Self Builders Choose?

The term self build encapsulates a variety of different build routes — the consistent thread being that the homes are all commissioned in some way by their eventual owner.

To better understand the self build market and those who choose to build their own homes, Homebuilding & Renovating commissioned and produced a report following a comprehensive consumer survey of 500 self builders who had finished or were close to finishing their projects.

Most of self builders choose one of four main routes – either project-managing the build themselves (where the homeowner coordinates their own labour and materials); choosing a main contractor (builder) who manages it on behalf of the eventual owner; building their own home by hand (DIY) or outsourcing to a design-and-build package company, who co-ordinate everything from design concept through to completion.

The reality is that most self-builders use a combination of all four of these approaches, but the survey asked for the primary build route — how most of the house was constructed.

The Results

The conventional wisdom has previously been that around 40% manage their own build, 40% use a builder, 10% DIY and 10% use a package company.

But the survey results suggest that more self builders are more actively involved in their projects through either the DIY or project management route (73%) than previously thought (50%).

  • 57% of self builders surveyed managed their own project
  • 16% chose to go down the hands-on DIY route
  • 22% used a main contractor to manage the project on their behalf
  • 5% chose a package supplier

The results show that self builders were more actively involved in their projects than many had anticipated: some 73% either managed their own project or built the house themselves.

How Does Build Route Affect Other Factors?

As you might expect, those not paying for the services of a main contractor or any labour at all made significant savings on build costs compared to those who used builders. People building their own home through DIY saved 25% on the build costs against someone managing their own project. Taking on the project management saved self-builders 17% against people using main contractors.

DIY self builders had lower incomes than other self builders (an average of £47,261 compared to an average of £102,242 for those who used a contractor), and their houses were much smaller. Those who chose to DIY, built to an average size of 205m², while those who managed their own project or used a contractor built houses 260m² and 271m² in size respectively.

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