There is more than one way to build a house or extension. This means that, if you're looking to undertake a project of this sort, you need to work out which route is best for you.
It's not just a matter of whether you have any building skills or not – but more a case of assessing how much time you have to offer, your own ‘transferable’ skills and also how much control you want to have over the project. The good news is that you can have as much or as little involvement as you want.
Using a Main Contractor:
What it Means – While you will be responsible for the design process, a main contractor will be responsible for getting the house built.
The Demands – Because you're outsourcing more of the involvement in the work to someone else, this route places much more emphasis on finding the right main contractor.
The Benefits – This is a way of still being involved in a building project that is ideal for those with time constraints or a lack of experience.
The Negatives – This isn't a worry-free option. You will still need to visit the site regularly, as employing a main contractor on your behalf merely shifts the burden of responsibility from you hiring good tradesmen to you hiring a good main contractor.
What it Means – You take on the role of project manager.
The Demands – You will need to be a supremely good organiser, both of short term schedules (looking to the day ahead) but also, at the same time, the bigger, long-term picture (looking to the next month). You will also take on the filling-in tasks – such as keeping the site tidy – that fall in between the task lists of each trade. This is a huge ask in terms of time and stress – but ultimately very rewarding.
The Benefits – There are potentially big savings to be made by using this route.
The Negatives – Running a building site takes up a lot of time and effort. You 'll need to be on site at the very least twice a day and ideally would be able to appoint someone – perhaps a friendly joiner who is around the site a lot at certain stages – to sign for deliveries. You will be on the phone a lot, too.
Design & Build:
How it Works – You will commission someone to take on the design and build of your new home. They will handle everything from concept design to planning permission, construction and, in some cases, internal finishes.
The Demands – This is the most hands-off, stress-free self-build route.
The Benefits – If anything comes close to the concept of hassle-free self-building, this is it. Everything is predesigned and predetermined, leaving very little to chance on site.
The Negatives – The more hands-off you are and the more other people shoulder the responsibility, the more you pay. This is the most expensive of all the routes.