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We are in the process of buying a btl with a little added bonus - a small building plot for 2 small houses on a derelict plot of land that comes with the house. The intention is to build, refinance and let. We are full of good intentions and need to keep momentum. We are not expecting to complete for another 2 - 3 months (probate, covid etc). 

We want to use this time to educate ourselves on building houses - we won't be doing much of the work ourselves but know that we want to project manage rather than have a turnkey build. We've had a general google - does anyone have any recommendations for books and websites that will help us in building our knowledge? Also if anyone has any experience of doing similar, we would be really grateful for you to share any tips or pitfalls. 

Many thanks

Helen (and Steve)

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The first thing is to check if you already have full planning or its a pre-planning approval. Having been through the process I would say the actual building of the house is the easiest part and has th emost predictable cost. The challenges (and additional expense) are likley to be in 3 areas

1. Planning conditions : The councils are increasingly puttig in lots of environmental and safety conditions that can be time consuming and expensive to have cleared. Not to mention things like electric charge points which are increasingly becoming a key requirement as well as energy efficiency measures

2. Utilities and access : I had horrendous quotes for these with all the utilities but sewage was the most costly as its not as simple as simply linking into existing connections.

3. Ground conditions - getting foundations correctly done depending on the ground can throw up all sorts of issues

Lastly I found that the costs of 'professional services' was much higher than anticipiated with all sorts of specialist companies neede dto produce specs and reports to get to the point of being able to start building

Good opportunity but not for the faint hearted



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Hi Helen (and Steve),

For complete clarity - I am a Planning Consultant, so can assist with these things in a professional capacity if required, but happy to give informal advice on here for others as fully understand that planning is a real nightmare most of the time!

I think the key thing to do before you have completed is to understand the likelihood of getting planning permission for the new houses (unless you are buying the land with a permission). If it does not have permission, the risk is obviously paying over the odds for a BTL and then being stuck with a piece of land next to it you can't do much with!

If there is no permission then a pre-application meeting with the Council might be beneficial (most are doing these virtually in these Covid times) to ascertain whether it is likely that permission would be granted. You normally have to pay for these but the amount pales into insignificance compared to the cost of property and the potential risk that you can't build anything there. You can do a pre-app meeting even if you don't own the land, and you would not need full drawings etc, although the more information you provide the better. Depending on the response from the Council, you can decide if it is worth going ahead with the purchase/build.

If the land does have permission then I would echo what says about conditions - check that there aren't a load that have not been discharged but require a lot of information to be provided. Things like Construction Management Plans, Energy Statements, Ecology reports etc can be expensive, not to mention the time it takes to submit information to the Council and get a positive response! In addition to this, check when the permission was given and when it expires - usually within 3 years of the decision date. After that you would need to re-apply along with all the cost that goes with it!

I hope this helps, and happy to discuss further if you want to send me a private message


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