Ben Adam-Smith runs through the main options of where to live while your new home is under construction. While there's potential to save a lot of money it should not impact significantly on your comfort, state of mind or key relationships.
Money spent on temporary accommodation is not necessarily wasted
A lot of this depends on your personal situation.
With sufficient funds the decision becomes so much simpler, but if your self build is only going to happen with you living in a caravan on site then make sure you're not romanticising what this will be like.
Consider who is involved and how they might be effected
Here are a few questions that might be useful to run through:
Who will this impact?
If it's just you then you are likely to have a realistic sense of which route is right for you. With a family, there's a lot more to balance . . . and a lot more at stake!
What are your needs?
Whenever you buy (or rent) a house the location, price and availability are at the heart of the decision.
Consider proximity to work, schools and all importantly your building site.
What is your mental attitude like?
If you're someone who needs luxuries and space just to survive then sleeping in a campervan may be easy to rule out. However, even if you go camping every weekend would living this way for a year be viable?
How long will you be living in temporary accommodation?
Even with the best intentions projects can overrun. So envisage yourself living in your chosen accommodation for double or triple the time you have in your head!
And do you still feel good about it when it’s cold, raining, and it's been a bad day on site?
1. Stay where you currently live
With the funds available, by far the easiest option is to stay put in your existing property. This minimises disruption with just one move (from current house to completed self build). It's also likely that this is a comfortable environment.
Other than the cost implications, the only other down side is if your existing property is a long way from your plot.
If you anticipate being on site every day then this reason alone may be cause to move.
2. Move into a rental property
Although this is likely to involve you moving twice – once from your existing home and then again into your new build home – it shouldn't be too disruptive once you're settled and in a level of comfort that suits your needs.
You'll also have the ability to get closer to your land.
The downside here is that money is going out on a monthly basis and if your project is significantly delayed this will soon add up.
It also might not feel as homely because the landlord may not be open to excessive personalisation (painting walls, adapting spaces, etc.).
Don't overspend on the rental property
The cost of rental properties will vary hugely. It's worth visiting a number of properties to get a grip on the market and what is good value for money.
If you are selling your existing home, also be aware that you may not have much time to make this decision. We found that the choice of houses available in our price range was far more limited than we expected.
3. Move in with family or friends
Potentially this option could save you a lot of money. However, it really comes down to how strong that relationship is with the person you intend to impose upon.
If the house is large enough then maybe there is room to have your own space. Even then, perhaps there will still be an element of being on your best behaviour!
Other things to consider is the distance to your plot and the fact that if things do go wrong you are probably in danger of damaging a valuable relationship.
4. Erect temporary accommodation on your site
We've all seen it on Grand Designs . . . the family that thought it would be a good idea to stay in a beaten up caravan on their plot for the duration of the build! Hmmm.
Well staying on your site doesn't have to be primitive: you have a few options.
There are considerable savings to be made by doing this but one other benefit is that you can keep an eye on the site as work progresses. This is of course a double-edged sword! You won't have a retreat away from site and will have to endure the noise.
If you have young kids it is entirely possible that they may have an accident somewhere. Yes, the site will be fenced off but kids have an uncanny ability of gravitating towards things/areas they shouldn't!
Where your project has permission to construct an outbuilding, such as an office or garage block, if it offers enough space this may be a good option for staying on site. You'll also be confident with the specification of the building (during the depths of winter!).
A caravan or static home
Living this way does not mean it has to be damp and dingy. They come in all sizes and to all levels of comfort.
The question is really whether to rent or buy.
Buying could be cheaper . . . but only if you are confident you can sell it on afterwards.
A mobile home or campervan
Slightly different to the last option but again offering varying levels of comfort.
Don't forget about storage
If you are building a new house then hopefully it's got all the space you need.
If your existing home is fairly modest too then just watch out for ‘downsizing' during your project!
Hopefully you'll see it coming but it's amazing how much stuff you can actually have.
And even with the best intentions of sorting through what you need, you may discover – like I did – that time flies by and then you just have to pack up to clear the house.
Secure storage units are usually easy to find, but they aren't always cheap. So factor this in if you haven't got storage space in your temporary accommodation.
When should you move?
In some respects you want to leave this to the last minute! Nobody wants to compromise their living environment until they have to. In reality it is a balance though. You don't want the stress of needing to pay bills and not have the cash flow.
As you won't be paying for services upfront your money will go out gradually during the build.
Just remember that selling your home may take longer than you think. For Mike Coe it took about a year!