Ever wondered what it’s like to buy land and build your home from scratch?
For this week’s What I Own, we are chatting to property developer Richard who did exactly that.
He bought land for £236,000 in 2017 and spent £500,000 building his dream home.
Richard had to get a self-build mortgage to build the house – this is what he has to say about his property journey…
Tell us about yourself Richard.
I’m 46 years old and live on the Suffolk/Norfolk border. I am a property developer and podcaster who talks about property buying, owning and developing.
Where is your property?
South Norfolk – I love it here, 15 minutes from Norwich and 90 minutes from London (by train). The surrounding countryside is lovely, we have the Norfolk Broads on our doorstep and the local village and villagers are brilliant.
When did you move in?
I moved to the site in August 2017, then built the house as it is now and moved in June 2020.
How much does your property cost?
The site cost £236,000 – but it had a derelict old bungalow on it, which we lived in while our home was being built.
The house I have built cost around £500,000 to create.
How much was your deposit?
When I moved here I hadn’t sold our previous home so I bridged – it was expensive. I had a 10% deposit back then.
What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills?
All in, it costs about £2,500 a month. The mortgage is small and the interest rate is low – so we are making overpayments which increases our monthly expenses, but does substantially erode the size of the mortgage.
How did you save up for your deposit?
Hard work. Taking on additional ‘freelance’ work in addition to our jobs and cutting back on ‘luxuries’ we could do without to ensure we had the money to buy.
What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you? Did you find any parts challenging?
The self-build mortgage to build the house was very challenging.
The lenders don’t want to be left with a half-built house, which they can’t sell on if you fail or abandon the project. Since completion, the house has been remortgaged on a normal domestic product with a known lender and that was very straightforward – I used a broker to source the best deal for my circumstances.
Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family?
I lived in North Suffolk and had just finished renovating a 500-year-old listed cottage.
What made you want to buy rather than renting?
I’ve only ever rented when I first left home aged 21 and was looking for my ‘first time buy.’ I’ve always been a home lover and know that renting wouldn’t allow me to improve a house in a way that I would want to.
How did you find this property? What made you choose it?
Pure luck and a random internet search. I knew I wanted to move, but also knew I didn’t think I could because my existing home hadn’t sold.
I chose the land because of the location on the edge of a village, by a river, with a flat plot to build my forever home.
How have you made the property feel like home?
Some of the rooms have been designed to take the furniture I love. I love lots of natural light, so the house is designed to make full use of the sunrise, daylight and sunset.
I’ve learnt that bedrooms should always have fabrics that feel nice on the side of your face (like when you’re sleeping) so the bedrooms especially are furnished with suedes, chenille and faux furs.
What’s the inspiration for your interior decor style?
Classic and casual. Soft and welcoming. I’m not a fan of overly clinical looks, I like a sofa to be one you can soak into rather than perch upon.
What’s your favourite room and why?
I’m delighted with how the master bedroom and en-suite bathroom have evolved. They were the last rooms of the build and I wanted to spend a huge amount of time making them just right. Comfortable not cavernous and a space to seriously relax.
Do you feel like you have enough space?
Absolutely. The house has three bedrooms – it doesn’t need any more space.
Do you have plans to change the property?
Not the house, attention is now turning to the garden and terrace areas. The house-front has open countryside, a wood and a river. The wildlife is amazing so it’s a real challenge getting any design to be sympathetic.
Are there any problems with the property that you have to deal with?
Everything is brand new and under warranty so, in a word, no.
What do you want people to know about buying a home?
It’s not easy and it’s not meant to be easy. If it was straightforward, and people treated buying a house like buying a new coat, the industry and market would be in chaos. Be patient and if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.
What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing? Do you plan to stay here long term?
I’ve had people turn up at the gate and ask to buy the house. It’s not for sale. Building your own home is such a huge journey I don’t think I could do it again. I adore this house, the location and our local village.
As a developer I’m always looking for run-down houses to turn into something special, that’s my business and talent which is showcased on my website.
Shall we take a look around?
Do you want to feature in What I Own?
What I Own is a Metro.co.uk series that takes you inside people’s properties, to take an honest look at what it’s like to buy a home in the UK. If you own your home and would be up for sharing your story, please email [email protected]
You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’ve paid to live there and how you afforded the deposit, as that’s pretty important.
If you’re renting, you can take part too! What I Own runs alongside What I Rent, which is the same series but all about renting. Again, if you’d like to get involved just email [email protected]