Self build homes are becoming an increasingly popular choice for a lot of people but large plots of land are becoming scarce and they can be expensive. So how do you manage to get the size of home you want at a price you can afford? Could the answer to this be to choose a smaller plot and dig down?
Buying a plot of land that is on a slope may not seem like such a great idea but if your self build home can be ‘submerged’ into the slope then you could reap some rewards.
Earth integrated homes are not very common in the UK but in other countries there are many fine examples of how a self build house can almost disappear into the countryside. This maybe a way to provide country living without the environmental damage.
These homes, although expensive to construct, have the advantage of low exterior maintenance, lower heating bills due to the insulating nature of the soil, high resistance to fire and a longer life expectancy due to heavy masonry construction.
Why Are They Expensive?
Earth sheltered self build homes are not in any way a DIY project. Engaging a professional architect and a structural engineer right from the planning stages is essential to get your project off to the right start.
So although you will incur initial costs you may fine the savings to your bills and to the environment worth it.
So what if you are not in the market to self build but simply want to extend your current living space?
If your current property benefits from an existing cellar area this could be the space you are looking for.
Many cellars do not provide sufficient head room and will require some excavation but using a specialist company to carry this out will endure that no damage occurs to the existing building.
Extra damp proofing many also be require and some method of directing natural light into the underground area may need to be found as this will increase the value of the additional space and give it the feel of just being another room in your home.
No Cellar? No Problem
Even if your home does not currently have a cellar, for a price, one can be dug for you.
This may involve any or all of the following:
• underpinning of your existing home
• possibly digging through difficult soil conditions and below the water table
• diversion of existing services
• poor access
Costs can rise into the region of thousands of pounds per metre squared so it is best to get a few quotes before deciding that this is the option for you.
If extending, developing or a self build home is a route you want to take, you would be best advised to get in touch with an architect local to your area. They will have expert knowledge of the landscape, will have built relationships with the local planning office and quite frankly be worth their weight in gold.
Kenneth Martin is the owner of Block Architects, a successful architectural practise based in Lanarkshire, covering the whole of Scotland specialising in self build homes. Kenneth has over seven years experience in the area of self build homes and a wide variety of other architectural fields.