What to Consider Before Undertaking a New Build Project

Architects South West Exeter Devon

The new series of Grand Designs reappeared on our televisions recently, and once again spelled out the age-old story of poor planning, unreliable contractors, diminished finances and cries of ‘we’re never doing this again’!

But the results are always magnificent and, believe it or not, building your own project (whether a whole home, an extension or refit) doesn’t need to be a nightmare. So here’s our handy guide to ensure that the new builds Devon and its brave homeowners create are on-time, on-budget and a job well done.

Find a plot of land

The first episode of Grand Designs this series focused on a family who were convinced they had found the perfect plot of land. Why? It looked out onto a field that made Malvern look like New Zealand. Each to their own, but it didn’t change the fact that the plot was on a 45-degree-angled hill.

The slope of the ground is key. With greater steepness, the prices of groundwork will be… well, even steeper! Similarly, make sure you understand the type of rock underfoot; is it soft clay or tough rock? The length of time required to excavate for foundations may increase with the difficulty of the rock – and that means more cash to pay out.

As well as the geographical and geological attributes of the plot, remember that facilities such as gas, water and electricity will need to reach the house. This should be looked at before you acquire the plot, as the budget can go seriously haywire if not properly investigated. Similarly, check up on restrictions for new builds Devon councils enforce BEFORE you consider buying.


This is where your imagination can run wild… or, at least, sensibly wild. Inspiration can be drawn from traditional techniques such as viewing other new builds, or consulting designers and architects. Alternatively, why not head to Pinterest, Instagram and Grand Designs to get some ideas for your project?

It is always good to approach an architect with ideas already up your sleeves – and it is almost impossible to create a solid home without an architect, so try and view the fees as a necessary expense. Be prepared for them to offer their ideas, and take time to mull them over, as they may make the new builds Devon residents wish to create much more practical than some of the weird and wonderful ideas we come up with.

Formalise and find a contractor

This is when the architect takes all the plans and ideas and creates a series of sketches, each more specific than the last, in order to produce a blueprint that will instruct the contractors on what to do, as well as what materials are required for the project to go ahead. At this stage, certain decisions may impact your ability to get a contractor on board such as the size, location or length of time needed for the new builds Devon residents hope to create.

Remember – the plan can change after formalisation, but communication between the architect, the contractor and yourselves must be pin-sharp at this stage, and you could incur greater costs needed to change materials.

Following this, find a contractor. Here at Loft Exe, we can create a loft conversion, build an extension or do new builds Devon residents will love. Present your plans, and get approval.

Apply for Planning Permission

If you’ve followed our advice on the importance of knowing your stuff when acquiring land, you should have very few difficulties at this stage. If not, watch out! Lack of planning permission can render the whole project impossible, which can come at a great cost.

If your plot of land already has planning permission you will need to make sure that your designs fit within these regulations.

Applications for planning permission may need the help of consulting professionals to ensure that all the paperwork is filled out properly. Similarly, consulting neighbours and local authorities about the project can get them in support of your project, ensuring they don’t object to it at a later stage. The time-scale of the application process should also be considered – leave at least eight weeks to allow for this to happen.

Start the building process

And now the building can commence! Make sure to stay in regular contact with your contractor, understand the schedule of the build as well as keeping a keen eye on the finances. If possible, visit the building site in order to experience the project coming together and see its transformation into one of the great new builds Devon has to offer.