What to Look for When Choosing a Self-Build Company

If you’re in the process of looking for a new home but are struggling, we understand just how frustrating it can be. Nothing ever seems quite right, does it? No matter how hard you look, you just can’t find that ‘perfect’ house. Probably because it doesn’t exist… yet. Well, there’s a reason that programmes like Grand Designs are so popular! Creating your own individual home from scratch can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.

Of course, a lot of research must be done before you embark on such a journey; this blog post is simply a stepping stone to help you on your way. Unless you are a qualified builder yourself, you’re likely to want to enlist some help from a registered company. And that’s where we come in! But we wish to offer you some advice first… here’s what you should look for when choosing a company to self-build with.

Do they offer a comprehensive, ‘turnkey’ service?

Of course, how important this factor is to you will depend on your own experience and skill set. But if you’re looking for a company to completely take over and do everything for you, a turnkey service should be high on your list of priorities. A company who offer this type of package will have experts in every area of the self-build process – from design to planning permission to the physical build and management of the site. Any problem that arises will have to be solved by them, not you. Essentially, you’ll sit down with them to discuss what your vision is and they’ll truly take the reins from there. Obviously, it’s still your project and your house but their expert knowledge will make the journey a smooth and easy one for you.

How good is their customer service and care?

First impressions count. If a company is making you feel welcome and informed from the get-go, chances are that this will continue throughout the entire process. By the same token, if you feel confused and unappreciated when you first contact a self-build company, this may be a sign that they aren’t the right people to choose. After all, you will be putting a lot of your own money and time into this project. It’s only logical that you should go with a company that offers excellent customer service to make it worth your while. This will become especially clear during the build process; a good company will keep your informed and updated on a regular basis. In fact, you should have at least regular update meetings where choices and the build process should be discussed. This is not counting the various site visits you’ll certainly want to make. After all, this is your dream, your house. If a company is not willing to be transparent about what’s going on with your build then they might not be the right one for you.

Will they give you a fixed price quote or add sneaky costs?

When you have had your initial design meeting and consultation, your chosen self build company should propose a fixed fee. Ideally, this will include everything from planning requirements and building regulations to full build costs.

This is how we operate at CB Homes: you will receive a comprehensive fixed price quote. Best of all, any additional costs that are incurred through our mistakes are not your problem or responsibility to pay. So, ensure that you always compare like with like when checking your quotes – you definitely don’t want to have to pay for something that has just “cropped up on site.” And don’t forget, once your chosen builder has started on site, swapping builders might be much more difficult than anticipated. So get it out in the open from the moment go: who’s paying for what and most of all, what’s included in the price.

Do you like their previous work and will they understand your preferences

Whilst your self-build project should be entirely tailored to your preferences, not every company is going to be understanding and listen carefully. Make sure that you choose someone who will be completely open to your dreams and ideas, whilst using their expertise to think logically about the outcome. If you are a fan of the company’s previous self-build projects or developments, there’s every chance that you’ll find it easy to work with them.

Is their work up to scratch?

Each self-build company will have their own level of standards and quality. This is key! Have you had a look at previous work from the company you’re considering? Do their houses look up to scratch? If there are lots of lovely images on their website of past builds, it’s a good sign that they’re proud of their work and happy to show it off. Have they won any awards? Are they commended by registered bodies like the NHBC? All of these questions are important to ask.

And finally, are they willing to let you meet previous clients? Here at CB Homes, we always offer meetings between new and old self-builders to give you that peace of mind and face-to-face recommendation!

How can we help you with your self-build?

If you need any more information or guidance on self-build, we can give you free, impartial advice. Don’t hesitate to get in touch and see how we can help you! And if you’re looking for a suitable plot to get started with, why not check out our available plots?

5 Chester Restaurants You Should Definitely Try!

Our CB Homes office is based in the beautiful, rural heart of Cheshire. Tarporley, to be specific. Although our surroundings are green and peaceful, we’re just a stone’s throw away from the buzzing city centre of Chester! We’re massively grateful to be in such a great location and it got us thinking. Many of our housing developments are located in similar areas – fields on the doorstep and exciting cities not much further away. That’s the great thing about residing in Cheshire, Shropshire and the surrounding counties: you get the best of both worlds!

So, we started thinking about the best bits of living so close to a city like Chester. And the first thing we thought of was, well, the food! The walled city is bursting at the seams with great independent eateries; you’d never have to eat at a boring chain restaurant again. Here is our list of five Chester restaurants that you should definitely try:

Nine Elephants Thai Drink & Dine

Nine Elephants may be a newcomer but it’s burst onto the food and drink scene in a way that we’ve not seen for a while. There weren’t many Thai restaurants in Chester (just two) so Nine Elephants had a good chance. The eatery is based just outside the city walls on Northgate Street, so it’s in a prime location for people popping into town. There’s an incredibly extensive menu with everything from stir-fries and curries to street food and sizzling noodles.

Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan or have other dietary needs, the freshly-cooked food will be altered to your preference by the attentive staff. For lovers of Thai food and a great night out, we couldn’t recommend Nine Elephants more. Oh, and they do great cocktails, too!

Atina Kitchen

With almost 700 reviews on Trip Advisor, it’s safe to say that this tucked-away gem is a favourite amongst both locals and visitors to Chester. Atina Kitchen is located on Foregate Street opposite Primark, Wetherspoons and Revolution, so it’s in a pretty popular area of the city centre. However, you’d never know it was there! Stepping into Atina Kitchen is like stepping into a small slice of heaven.

The staff are great, the drinks selection is impressive and the menu is one of the tastiest we’ve ever tried. From breakfast and brunch to a lovely evening meal, the kitchen is open all day long so you can come and go whenever you please. They’ve got burgers, sandwiches, pasta dishes and breakfast specials (including plenty of avocado and halloumi) – you’ll be spoilt for choice.

La Fattoria

Image sourced from Chester 360

Another favourite amongst locals (see a pattern here?) is La Fattoria, delivering an authentic Italian restaurant experience. If you’re a fan of Italian cuisine then we recommend stopping here for lunch or dinner, where you will be greeted by the friendliest waiters and tastiest homemade food. Step into the cosy restaurant on Lower Bridge Street and you’ll see that the decor is extravagant but with a real Italian vibe. You’ll be made to feel right at home here.

From the creamy carbonara to the fresh Caprese salad, all your favourite foods from Italy are on this decadent menu. We’ve never seen so many pasta dishes in our life; there’s something for everyone from seafood linguine to ricotta cannelloni. Dining at La Fattoria is a real experience – you’ll know what we mean once you’ve tried it.

Gate of India

Travel to South Asia and become immersed in fantastic flavours and warm hospitality: Gate of India is one of Chester’s most-loved Indian restaurants. You’ll find this delightful tavern of tastes on City Road, just a short walk from Chester Station. So it’s located incredibly conveniently for those who’d like to indulge in a beer or two!

The best thing about Gate of India? It is extremely well-priced, you’ll get double the food for the same money you’d pay in a similar restaurant elsewhere. Whether you fancy a lamb pasanda or a king prawn balti, you’ll find exactly what you’re craving in this old-school curry house. And the entire time you’re enjoying your meal, you will be served with a smile. Guaranteed.

Porta Wine & Tapas Bar

Last but certainly not least, next up on our list of top Chester eateries is Porta Wine & Tapas Bar. This hidden gem is tucked away just underneath the Northgate Street city wall entrance, so you’re pretty close to everything else in town, too. Porta is perfect for those looking for something a little bit different. If you’re visiting Chester with your other half, this is a great place for a special treat.

The wine list is fantastic so you’ll be spoilt for choice when choosing your tipple for the evening. And as for the food, well, it’s simply stunning. If you’ve never tried tapas before this is definitely a great place to start. From the traditional tortilla and Jamon Iberico to delicious Portuguese custard tarts, you’ll be dying to come back for more.

Check out our current properties and plots for sale near Chester

How to Get Planning Permission for a Garden Plot

When it comes to self-build projects, we often dream big and think outside the box. However, the answer sometimes lies just on our back-door step. If you are lucky enough to have a large garden, you might consider using this space as your plot! Of course, we don’t all have sprawling lawns under our ownership. But it’s important to remember that there are garden plots everywhere around the UK and they can make excellent bases for your self-build project.

So, what is the deal with garden plots and building upon them?

Generally speaking, it’s much easier to get planning permission in built-up areas such as cities, towns and villages. You will find the details of this specifically in your council’s Local Plan – often referred to as an LP. In said LP, there are policies which usually allow new developments and construction as long as they follow specific criteria. When it comes to rural areas (including settlement edges and hamlets), LP policies can be stricter and not fond of new construction projects. However, gardens in and around smaller settlements can be approved for self-build if there is no five-year housing land supply owned by the council.

To be really clear on this, it’s worth checking out your council’s LP and policies to see what their position is.

What should you consider when applying for planning permission on a garden plot?

First things first, you need to remember that you will be pretty close to another house if you are building on someone else’s garden plot. The council are also likely to request that any new developments are in fitting with the existing property – focusing on design and development style. It is also worth considering that one-storey homes such as bungalows may work better on garden plots. Now, let’s get down to business. Here are the key points that you should be working towards when planning your garden plot self-build project:

Available space

Perhaps the most obvious factor but one that certainly shouldn’t be taken for granted. How much space is available for the new property? Does the garden plot offer adequate space without creating too much of a cramped environment? The council will take space very seriously. However, if your new building is well designed and well thought-out, space doesn’t have to be a barrier.

Town politics

In small towns and especially villages, the local politics can be quite an issue when it comes to influencing councils. Get friends and neighbours on your side from the start. You never know who is friends with council members and how local relationships can affect the outcome of your planning permission.

Entrance and parking

Will you have appropriate access to the property once it has been built? Take into consideration the impact of building a new drive and entrance route on the garden plot. Make sure you aren’t obstructing the existing property or any neighbours’ access and that the new entrance route is safe and easily accessible for all.

Block outlook and sunlight

You may think this is an obvious one but it can often be overlooked when dealing with the stresses of planning permission. Councils greatly frown upon any new development that might block the outlook or sunlit areas of an existing home. Of course, sunlight won’t be as much of an issue if your new property will be built to the north of the existing one. However, bear this in mind when drawing up your self-build plans.

Local area and style

As we briefly touched upon, it is highly recommended to keep your new designs within the parameters of any local styles there might be. You don’t have to build a carbon copy of the surrounding homes, but take their design and materials into consideration. Remember that style is subjective and you don’t want to upset the council or officer you are dealing with.

Tree removal and protected species

It’s important to remember that your garden plot development might have a negative impact on the surrounding ecology and nature. Will any trees need to be cut down to accommodate your self-build? Make sure you get a survey carried out to truly understand any significant trees and how your build will affect them. By the same token, if there are any protected species living in and around the garden plot, you should ensure an ecological survey is carried out. This will greatly help your planning application.

Sewage system

Whilst it’s not the most enticing subject, you really must consider the drainage system for the new property. Whatever solution you come up with, you should definitely include all options on your planning application show that you’ve really thought it through. This may mean opting for a private sewer system.

Neighbour privacy

With any new house, councils can be very strict about the distance between new properties. This is especially true if your new walls will contain windows that clash with the neighbour’s windows. Take the privacy of your neighbour into strong consideration when planning your self-build. It’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to such issues.

Looking to build on a garden plot?

If you are considering a self-build project on a garden plot or elsewhere, do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We can offer free, impartial advice on the best route to go down when it comes to your exciting new self-build journey!