Member story: building our family home from scratch

In the summer of 2018, Simon and Lindsey Lawson, a chartered engineer and A&E doctor from South Bristol, embarked on their self-build journey with the dream to create their perfect family home. 

This meant finding the right mortgage which met their needs and project timeline. 

How did they finance the build of their home?

After extensive research, the couple turned to Newbury Building Society who helped turn their self-build project into a reality.    

Below, you can read their story:

What is your self-build project? 

Our project included the demolition of all the existing buildings on the site and the erection of a four bedroom detached country house in South Bristol. The permission included a double garage and swimming pool but this will not be built in this first phase.

The project started in July 2018 with an estimated completion date of September 2019. 

Why did you decide to build your own home?

The plot which contained a bungalow was bought off market after some careful negotiation. We did not set out to build our own home but the plot and location is perfect for us in every sense.

What advice would you give to other people interested in self-build?

We decided to go to tender using a main contractor. The best advice for this type of build would be to ensure that the drawings, detail and specification are correct and complete in every sense before submitting for pricing, for example, when the prices come back add 10% to the lowest tender. 

In addition, be realistic with your expectations and do not underestimate the cost of professional fees. You will get what you pay for and although we invested heavily in the design process; to date we estimate professional fees are in excess of £80,000.

Simon and Lindsey Lawson outside their property in South Bristol.

What part of the process were you most concerned about?

Naturally we were concerned about unexpected costs and the overall cost of the build. With all the best planning in the world there is no way of knowing what the groundworks might unearth.

What part of the process were you most looking forward to?

It would be naïve to believe that building a home is a ‘smooth’ and ‘enjoyable’ process. Of course, with unlimited funds you can hand the process over to a turn-key but this adds a large premium to the overall build cost. We need to keep tight control of costs and with that brings stress. While it is exciting to see progress, moving in is what we look forward to most!

Did you find getting a self-build mortgage as difficult as you expected?

While there was quite a lot of detail required, this was expected due to the nature of the risk for us and for the building society. In addition, we did not use a broker and found the process relatively simple. 

Why did you choose Newbury Building Society as your lender?

Researching on the internet led us to Newbury and we decided that their fees were competitive and the terms of the mortgage seemed fair and flexible.

What was your experience with Newbury Building Society like? 

To date – excellent.

If you’re thinking about undertaking a self-build project, read our article “Self-build success doesn’t need to be difficult” for further information. 

If you would like to discuss your mortgage options, please contact us or visit your local branch to arrange an appointment. We offer face-to-face, telephone and video advice mortgage appointments for those who cannot make it to a branch. 


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