31 August 2021

How to build a house on a budget

By Brooke Crisp Manager

Building your own property can be an exciting and hugely rewarding adventure – and, for some, the most realistic way of getting onto the property ladder. But if you’re on a tight budget, you will need to be precise in your planning and spending – and possibly prepared to make a few compromises along the way. Here, we take a look at how to get the most from your money when self-building, from style tricks to self-build insurance.

Plan ahead

Your first challenge is where to build: if you’ve already got your plot, then you can dedicate your whole budget to constructing the building, but if you need to buy the land you should choose carefully so you don’t undercut how much you can spend on the house itself. For example, consider buying somewhere off the beaten track, which will be much cheaper than building near a commuter route or built-up area, and secure a flat and serviced plot if you can, as this will save you time and money on groundworks.

Simply does it

When it comes to design, simplicity is key. Keeping the square footage down will reduce the necessary structural groundwork, which will in turn help with your budget so, with that in mind, a house can often be more cost-effective than a bungalow. A simple four-sided box shape is the cheapest design, with costs creeping up as soon as you start adding more complicated features such as chimneys, gables or anything involving architectural glass. This might sound dull, but just take a look at the traditional elegance of Georgian architecture for your inspiration.

Style it out

That said, if you are keen to achieve an eye-catching contemporary style, you can use clever tricks of the trade to achieve your desired aesthetic while still working within the parameters of your budget. For example, you can design glass features – whether glazing for gables or skylights to let the light in – around standard sizes rather than bespoke sizes, ensuring you get the same effect for less money. Similarly, there are ways to keep prices down for internal fittings too, such as using reclaimed cabinets in the kitchen and painting them yourself.

Invest where it matters

However carefully you plan and design your new home, inevitably there will be areas where investing more upfront will be more economical in the long run. Getting your architect involved early on will ensure there are no nasty surprises on the design front – and the same goes for your structural engineer. Carefully plan which parts of construction you can confidently carry out yourself and where you will need an expert to come in and help – and don’t rush straight to the cheapest option for your building materials. Instead, consider how long you expect to live in the property and take your time to research what materials will offer the longest lasting quality for your budget. And above all, make sure you take out a good self-build insurance policy.

Protect yourself

Even with the best laid plans, things can still go wrong during construction – whether it’s an accident that leaves you liable or damage to your materials that isn’t your fault. And when you’re on a budget, every penny counts. That’s why self-build insurance is so important.

When it comes to taking out a policy, don’t be tempted to cut corners or automatically choose the cheapest policy – self-building can be risky and if something goes badly wrong, your project could be written off completely and you could end up unable to restart or even recoup costs. The right self-build policy protects against that. Look for a policy that covers your public liability, all your materials and tools and total loss of your project – meaning your insurer will pay for you to get back on your feet.

At Renovation Plan, we insure self-build projects on our ‘All-Risks’ policy, so you know you’re covered in the event that anything happens. We will insure the new works and public liability, plus you have the option to add a range of optional extras such as tools, plant, a caravan, contents and more. Plus, if you want to keep your premium down, you can always choose a higher excess, so you know you’re covered for any larger-scale catastrophes while paying less for the upfront policy. It could be one of the most important purchases you make before you build your house.


Share your self-build projects

Whether you’re looking to create your dream home, or you simply need a more affordable way to step onto the property ladder, you can still build a breath-taking home on a small budget. If you’ve built or you’re currently building your own property, we’d love to see.  Send us some shots, along with your social handle, and we’ll share them on our Instagram account.


Want to find out more about our self-build insurance cover?

You can find further useful information on our self-build insurance page. If you’re not ready to get a quote yet and would prefer to speak to someone you can find the right details by clicking here. We can’t wait to find out all about your project!