Skip to content

Project Planning for Self-Builders

Success or Failure will Depend on it

After planning consent has been granted, it is necessary as a Self-Builder to make sure that the Project is under control. This must include:

Decide if you would like to build the project with ICF, Cavity Wall, Timber Frame or SIP construction. We believe the main benefits of choosing ICF are that it is a very fast safe system which is ideally suited for self-builders on single plot sites. This is particularly true when it may be difficult to get the skilled labour required for Cavity Wall, Timber Frame or SIP construction.

The self-builder is far more likely to keep to his Construction Schedule if he uses ICF for the following reason:

• Timber and any supporting steelwork has to be ordered 3 / 4 months in advance of delivery to site and so does the glazing. Both are made to suit the design dimensions and if the timber or steel is out of tolerence the windows will not fit and need to be remade or changed on site. If the window installation is scheduled immediately after the frame installation it is likely that both teams of installers will end up on site at the same time doing remedial works – leading to very costly chaos.

• ICF can be built up to the eaves in a week or so. The openings csn be measured and the glazing made to suit – this takes all the pressure off the selfbuilder and means that the Construction Schedule will be met with no extra costs.

There are plenty of firms that offer complete packages for Building Regulation Approval or you can appoint an Architect and Structural Engineer. If self-builders are going to use ICF, a Design Team that is experienced in its use will minimise potential site problems and costs.

Structural Warranty Insurance can be provided through the NHBC, LABC or any of the other insurers that offer these policies and every Self-Builder should put this in place to underpin the value of the property development.

They should provide a 10 year guarantee against structural failure and various other faults such as water infiltration through the walls or around the windows etc.

Professional Indemnity Insurance provided by Designers should never be relied on because any compensation will only be paid after the Building owner has won a court case against an insurer that will always vigorously refute their liability. Furthermore, it relies on the consultant continuing to pay the insurance premium for years after your project is completed.

Approved Inspectors can also carry out the structural warranty inspections, thus reducing the number of costly site inspection visits. The NHBC has its own Building Control Services department that undertakes both responsibilities and the LABC works the same way with Local Authority Inspectors.

If you decide to use the Local Authority you will also need to decide between applying for Building Regulation Approval by giving a Building Notice or by submission of Full Plans.

Local Authorities must respond within 5 weeks of submission of the Full Plans, whereas under Building Notice the work can commence 48 hours after submission of the Notice.

Approved Inspectors can often carry out the approval of plans more quickly.

It is fair to say that in general the Local Authorities will be able to provide a more organised service and can often make unscheduled visits at short notice in a way Approved Inspectors cannot due to the travelling distances involved.

Local Authority Inspectors may also be more rigid in their interpretation of the Regulations than an Approved Inspector and this can be problematic for self-builders. But the LA inspectors will normally have more local knowledge of ground conditions and how to deal with problems that can arise from this and this can be of great benefit it reduces the cost of foundations.

If you have planning permission and want to get started with the project, you will need construction drawings for Building Regulations. You will also need drawings and quantities for pricing by a builder. You will need to source quotations from builders and tradesmen and then place contracts for the full project – ensuring as far as is possible that nothing has been omitted because this will need to be carried out on daywork and not to a fixed price.

When getting quotes as a self-builder you should ensure that every trade provides an estimate of how long their work will take. These estimates can be used in a simple bar-chart to provide a project schedule. Allow for plenty of time for weather and other unforeseen stoppages – this is called the float in the following typical example.

Simple bar charts like the one below, drawn up using an Excel spreadsheet, are all that are required for a self-builder. The thick black line is the critical path and any delays in the work on this line will result in completion being delayed as well.

When you have all required quotes, you can prepare the Project Budget for the structural works and exterior finishes. At this stage a lump sum estimate can be inserted for finishes and kitchen/bathroom fittings.

Under the Construction Health & Safety Regulations the Site Owner is responsible for the Site Health & Safety File until a Contractor is appointed and can undertake this. Alternatively the Site Owner can appoint the Architect or Structural Engineer to assume this responsibility.

Planning Drawings are all about what a house looks like. Building Regulation approval is all about how a house is built to ensure that all new homes and extensions are safe, accessible and energy efficient. They have evolved over the years and have become increasingly complex. The Regulations currently consist of 16 Approved Documents, each covering a specific area.

The following Approved Documents all require the preparation of drawings and any supporting calculations.

• Approved Document A – Structure.

• Document C – Site Preparation etc.

• Document H – Drainage etc.

The other Approved Document requirements can be met by the use of text documents but they are often added to the drawings as notes by the Designer. The only exception to this is Document L – Conservation of Fuel and Power. This will require a qualified SAP consultant.

What can we offer Self-builders?


We can supply the ICF blocks you need along with installation documentation and technical support on the phone during construction.


We specialise in using the unique structural advantages of ICF to develop Design Solutions for our customers that are both safe and economical to build. For customers looking to use PolyBloks ICF, we can provide design services and support any self-builders in Project Planning as part of the structural design services.

ICF Construction

Call us if you need more detailed information for your ICF project, browse our technical library and FAQs for construction details using Polybloks.