We have created homes in London for many years but find that our work is appealing more and more to homeowners outside of the capital, in towns such as St Albans in Hertfordshire. The space is often very different to those in London but this creates an exciting opportunity for us to create everyday scenarios within homes with a different footprint.

Choosing to build a house yourself is a great idea if you would like to live somewhere that is perfectly tailored to your needs and preferences. However, building a house in St Albans presents a few challenges to consider. St Albans is mostly a conservation area so you will need to consider your planning application carefully and begin early liaisons with the council to ensure you can go ahead with your self build. We’re successful architects in St Albans and can help you with your project.

Below we’ll go into more detail about how you can begin your self build journey in St Albans.

Read more about building in St Albans


Securing Planning Permission In St Albans


Planning permission is the first thing you will need to consider before any self build project. Securing planning permission in St Albans, especially for designs of a more complex nature, can be tricky.

Being able to design a home that strikes just the right balance between new and contemporary and blending in with the current surroundings is a fine art. Working with a design practice (such as Scenario) who aim to gain the support of St Albans City and District Council planning department right from the get-go is essential, as this will be reflected back in our designs submitted, planning statement, and 3D visualisations. By doing this you may be able to get support from the council even before the full planning application has been submitted – an accomplishment that we have achieved in the past with our clients.

Once you have planning permission, it’s imperative to pay close attention to the conditions attached. If you fail to do this, any work carried out will be deemed unauthorised.


Finding Land To Build On


Finding land to build on is another unique challenge of building in St Albans. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of free land to purchase, and this often means that self builders must demolish a house before replacing it with a new, contemporary design. This isn’t the easiest feat, but it is possible.

You may also use plot finding services online to see if any plots become available. Scanning through planning applications, and scouring the area looking for potential opportunities may also be an option. You’ll need to be smart to find a plot of land to build on. Make sure you also register with your local authority under the Right to Build, which requires local authorities in England to keep track of the demand for serviced plots in their area.


Controlling Costs


Keeping costs controlled when building a house needs skilled project management, but again, there are a few steps you can take yourself. The bigger the house you want to build, the more costs you need to control. A carefully-considered design will help you to keep control and we will work closely with you throughout the process to help you understand where changes will impact the budget.

You’ll also need to think about the materials you’d like to use, it’s simple maths that premium finishes will incur a premium on the budget. We will never cut corners to save costs but we will always discuss with you where premium finishes are best used to achieve the desired result. You can be involved or as hands-off as you like, whether you want to take care of the final decor elements or involve us closely.

The majority of projects are handled by a main contractor/builder or subcontractors project managed by the homeowners, but you can choose different routes for different stages of the project. This will depend on your skills and budget.


Financing You Project


In order to finance your project you’ll need to do a thorough assessment of your current situation before contacting lenders. A self build mortgage is often different to a traditional mortgage as the funds are usually released in stages. For instance, money will be made available after each stage of the self build is completed, or in advance of a stage being started.


Finding a St Albans Architect


Working with the right architect is imperative to ending up with a finished design you’re happy with. This requires research and portfolio scouring; we have experience in St Albans and will help you to prepare and plan your self build project.

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