Building one’s own home is a dream for many of us. I regularly watch Grand Designs and daydream of all the possibilities a self-build holds. There’s a hill behind our home and up until recently there was a dilapidated bungalow with a huge crack in the middle. It’s been knocked down and I’ve enviously watched as the new owners have built a house from scratch on the plot. What a dream to be able to design your own home!
Since purchasing our own family home almost four years ago, there are several features I absolutely wish it had. As a busy mum to two who also runs a business from home, our house is far from the perfect layout. With two young children and our finances tied up in our current property, we could not self-build at this time in our lives, but in the future would I consider it? Absolutely.
The scariest thing about starting a self-build has to be the unexpected costs and the unknown disasters one could face. Most of the self-build programmes on TV show people going way above their original budgets, severe weather halting builds and cowboy builders disappearing or overcharging.
Luckily there are all sorts of things you can put into place to reduce the risk, such as contractors all risk insurance. This is an optional extra that can be added to a builders or tradesman policy if you’re carrying out work on a contract site, which if you’re building your own home and helping on site, you may very well be. There are risks of weather damage such as flooding, theft and third party injury claims, but the right insurance policy will cover you for all these eventualities and more.
Checking out reputations of all the professionals involved has somewhat become easier with the internet and reviews can be found with a click of a button. Getting your finances into shape beforehand and having a reasonable safety net, will mean you can afford any unexpected surprises. Don’t max out. Leave room in your budget for the unknown.
Ten years ago I’d have probably wished for a mansion with a heated indoor pool, but now I have my own home and a family, my priorities have changed. I no longer want a mansion, but a more practical family home. If I could self-build a family home, these are the features I’d want it to have:
A boot room/utility room
In our current home we have little space to store our shoes and muddy boots when we enter the home. Plus I hate the wet muddy boots coming indoors and making mess. I’d love a boot room/utility room with its own entrance where we can walk in and take our muddy boots off in a dedicated space. There would be room to hang all our coats and stack all our shoes. The room can double up as a utility room with a washing machine, tumble dryer, hanging rails and sink for washing muddy items, paint pots and all the mucky stuff I hate having to wash in our kitchen sink near food preparation.
We’re already struggling with one bathroom and the children are only five and two. I can see this becoming more of an issue as they get older and there are four of us wanting a morning shower or some private bathroom time. I’d love a downstairs toilet and an en-suite for me and Ben. That way the kids can have the normal bathroom to themselves and there will be no arguments over bathroom time in the future.
A self-contained studio
One of the best ways to make passive income is through property rental. I’d love a spare room that can be used as a guest room and rented out on AirBnB or similar. I’d like it to have its own entrance and be a self-contained studio with kitchenette and en-suite. It can also double up as a guest room for our family and friends.
I love the extra privacy a porch gives a home, without having to step directly onto the street from the front door. It’s also a brilliant place to be sheltered from the elements whilst I fumble through my pockets and handbag looking for my door keys!
A large kitchen-diner and family room
We currently have a small kitchen and a separate living-room/diner, which is the worst layout for young family life. Whilst I’m preparing lunch boxes, cooking dinner and doing the laundry in the kitchen, the kids are in the living-room/diner free to fend for themselves without me keeping an eye on them and chaos ensues. It’s the part of our current home I complain about the most as even a kitchen-diner would give me the ability to entertain and keep an eye on the children as I slave away in the kitchen! In my dream self-build home however, I would have a large kitchen-diner-family room. There would be sofas and a TV at one end, a large family table and a kitchen with an island so the children have space to help me prepare food and learn to cook. We can all be a family in the same room together and the kitchen really will be the hub of our home.
More eco-friendly features
I’d install as many solar panels as possible and link these to our hot water system. I’d also link a log burner to our heating system so we can heat our home by ourselves as much as possible. I’d harvest rainwater and use it for washing and toilet flushing. I’d also check out my options for using eco-friendly building materials to lessen our impact on the environment.
There we have it. These are the features I would want most in my dream home. Now to find the finances and plot of land!