View Full Version : House building costs in the UK

Loose rivets
30th Jun 2010, 16:21
Would really appreciate some guidance.

I'm looking at a cute little bungalow with a cute little garden in a quiet road. It'd give me a base by the sea near my old town. I like it. Trouble is, it's falling into a hole. Most of it looks fair, but one area is definitely going somewhere. Estate agents have advised 'Severe Structural Problems.'

I've just come back from taking some measurements, and I'd guess that across the 23' width, it's gone down 3 1/2" Okay, I've been in Inches Land for too long, but you remember those.

Clear errors can be seen with a level when applied to the brick line. 5% of the bubble perhaps over 4' in some parts.

The worst part is that the loo and bath and foul sewer man-hole are in the epi-centre of the problem. Could be that it was causal.

I wanted to move in for a while, and think about what to do next. The Rivetess will be going back to Texas, so it doesn't matter if it's a bit basic. However, I have to bid against local builders.

It really does look newish and well kept. The garden is lovely, with only trees behind.

Plot 120 X 35'

I need to bid based on my competition demolishing. No sane person would live in it - but that's not a problem to me :}

What do you reckon it would cost to pull it down, then pull the old foundations out of the ground? About 40 X 23 feet, it's a simple rectangle - not counting the garage.

What are the building costs for a one-story simple house these days? When I was last involved, it was about 56 quid a square foot. Not including the foundations. BTW

If I can save the windows and doors, they look new and are of high quality PVC thick double-glazed, with sizeable French windows and an extra lobby door with sliding rail. Do windows normally figure in the square foot cost?

I have to have my bid in by tomorrow, but really am flying blind. Been out of the game for far too long to really know what I'm doing. I could bid, influenced by the cosy look of the place - even got a real fireplace - but I have to get something based on business rather than emotions. It has to be better than a wild guess at what the professionals are going to bid.

I doubt that one of them will try to repair the house, as it's unlikely that anyone would be able to insure it until the foundations have been replaced.

30th Jun 2010, 16:44
You don't say where this is and apparently don't know the cause of the subsidence. That's worrying. You also don't say whether the house has one or two floors, a traditional brick or a concrete foundation and what kind of soil it is built on or whether such subsidences are common locally. You also don't tell us how old the house is.

My concern is that local builders are considering demolition because it would be cheaper than restructuring or partial demolition, in which case you may find yourself paying more than the cost of rebuilding the whole to rebuild part.

The obvious advice is "Get a long barge pole and still don't touch it." But then I speak as a chap who has bought is just such a situation and walked away both 1000% better off (literally) and 50% poorer on other occasions.

If you are still attracted and need a building cost, call local developers, (they are sometimes surprisingly helpful) google it, compare cost of land and cost of equivalent houses locally and take of 5 to 10% (developers profit margin.) All a bit ad hoc, I know.

Best of luck either way, we`re taking the roof off half the house next week so I know it is addictive!

30th Jun 2010, 16:47
Loads more information needed even for an informed guess.

It sounds like a sealed envelope auction? I might bid in an open auction but I'd stay away from that type in those circumstances.

Good luck, anyway.

30th Jun 2010, 16:53
You're not talking about Cornwall are you? I assume not, or you'd be well aware of the possibilities. In the last 10 years my neighbour has had 2 very old mine shafts open up on his land near his house, the second one a good 20' in diameter and 50' deep. Shudder to think of the costs if there were something like that lurking under the bungalow!

At our sort of age I reckon arthritis, poor eyesight, hearing loss and just the general disinclination to get up in the morning present us with enough worries in life without purchasing a potential money pit!

BAMRA wake up
30th Jun 2010, 17:01
Sounds as if there are too many uncertainties and too little time to get some answers.

If the subsidence is due to something greater than a shallow soft spot below the foundation then remedial work could add significantly to rebuild costs, say if you had to have a raft or piled foundations. Until you know that it's impossible to establish a total new build cost.

30th Jun 2010, 17:14

Google 'rics build costs'.

Good info there.

Or, library first thing tomorrow, 'Building your own home', Murray Armour. Updated every couple of years, so pretty on the ball. There'll be a build cost digest in it.

Little houses cost more relatively.


PS Don't assume you can demolish it!

30th Jun 2010, 17:30
Or, library first thing tomorrow, 'Building your own home', Murray Armour. Updated every couple of years, so pretty on the ball. There'll be a build cost digest in it.

Or see if they have a copy of:- THIS BOOK (http://www.housebuildersbible.co.uk/) which has costs for building various styles (budget, executive etc.) and is pretty up to date.


Low Flier
30th Jun 2010, 18:47
Have you checked with your local planning authority as to whether they would let you rebuild on that plot?

In lowland Scotland there are thousands of small abandoned coalmine and claymine shafts. The planners have maps of most of them and they draw an exclusion zone around every one of them and won't let you build within that circle, even if there's been a house there since the mine was abandoned.

30th Jun 2010, 19:45
please walk away from this it sounds like a huge gamble.
ask yourself do i need the aggro of all this at my age (with respect).
you say you have to put your bid in by tomorrow,it seems to me that you are rushing into this.
why not bide your time and look around im sure there will be other cute little bungalows to suite your needs without severe structural problems.
good luck which ever way you decide.


30th Jun 2010, 19:57
As well as the 'will they let you demolish' question is the question of whether it sits on a (recently established) flood plain.

If so, you will be unlikely to get permission for a new build.

Lon More
30th Jun 2010, 20:10
Visit a show, such as this (http://www.homebuildingshow.co.uk/) or maybe better this (http://www.buildstore.co.uk/mykindofhome/index.html)
Subscribe to one of the building magazines, they have tables of costs for various areas and specs.
Finally take a look at some of the sites specializing in building ground like Plotfinder (http://www.plotfinder.net/).

This one sounds like a money pit. If it's too cheap it's because it's going to be too expensive, walk away from it

Ancient Observer
30th Jun 2010, 20:57
as you well know, anything animal that you touch is fine.

Anything mechanical and/or electrical that you touch is always a disaster, and when you recover the disaster, you find another one.

What you are addressing is a cvil/mech and elec. problem

er, by my reckoning, that is a problem cubed.

So it won't just go wrong, it will go incredibly mega-wrong.

Sounds like a job that even Sprogs would not take on.

30th Jun 2010, 21:09
Knocking walls about & rewiring is one thing...Subsidence, planning applications & demolition are quite another.

Why buy trouble? I wouldn't walk away, I would run away.

30th Jun 2010, 21:23
Without the resources of a commercial property developer, it would, IMO, be unwise to proceed.

I have seen how CPDs operate, summoning subcontractors experienced in all manner of problems - and, usually, at very short notice.

In short, if you aren't in the trade - forget it . . . :=

There will be those who are who will have surveyed this property and assessed roughly the extent of the job and its worth and whether it will be profitable. They will pitch accordingly, and, if you outbid them, you will be struggling to manage to match their costs (as you will have to pay someone's profit). You will also be subject to 'speculation' by contractors unless you know precisely what is necessary.

Loose rivets
30th Jun 2010, 23:44
Just look at the garden.

2 bedrooms bungalow walton on the naze gouldings avenue,8 (http://www.rouse-estates.co.uk/showProp.aspx?pid=2733)

There's a pony walk owned by the local farmer just behind the trees. I've always been without anything behind us, so this seemed to shout out at me.

Probably clay soil.

It's a difficult one. I'd intended to put a bid in around 100k cheaper than the 180k one sold for up the road. This was based on being able to live in it for a while without any real problem from the sloping floors and odd door frames. But with the drain having dropped so that it's neutral slope or even back flows, I now don't know if I need that hassle. Only a short run to the footpath where the pipe I'm sure would be fine.

I've dug drains and indeed huge foundations, and wheeled the Essex clay down to the farm, with permission to get some back when I needed it. The ditch was 1m wide and two deep, and surrounded a 300sq ft kitchen. This is probably why I have a bad back now.

There is, or was, nothing I couldn't do on a building like this. Black pipe thread cutting, wiring, general plumbing. Just love woodworking. Brick laying...a bit slow, but accurate. But now, me back's just crap. Have to just wave me arms about while kids do stuff. I still do quite a lot, but just can't lift. Soooooooooooo frustrating.

I'll look at that link above and see some real prices, but 180k is pretty solid info.

As I said, the drains may have been causal. The manhole is part filled with sand and ballast! No one knows just what process took place to cause that. I'd just assumed back flow from a break but I don't know.

The real danger is that I'll get what today is a bargain, and then find prices slump, and I'll be sitting in a bungalow that needs pulling down, that cost not much under the prices of a good one. But, and it's a big but, I need somewhere right now. My stuff from a sizeable house is still in storage and I need a garage and spare room to sort and or sell items that I value. I've achieved almost nothing in the succession of flats we've used since straddling the Atlantic.

So sad. All the old lady's things are still there. It looked a bit like when my mum left her apartment at age 93. One almost feels guilty about sitting in the comfy chair.

glad rag
1st Jul 2010, 00:26
So sad. All the old lady's things are still there. It looked a bit like when my mum left her apartment at age 93. One almost feels guilty about sitting in the comfy chair.

Please walk away from this old chap, I really feel that from your posting above some things are affecting you more than they should, I know from dealing with close family.

Kind regards


1st Jul 2010, 01:19
dont do it. read back over your last posts, you have nothing but doubts about the whole project yet you sound like your trying to convince yourself its a good idea. you also give the impression that you intend to an ammount of the work yourself! with a bad back.look around take your time property's like this will come on to the market all the time,when you find one find one without any major work that needs doing think about how much time you can spend in the garden and not rebuilding the house.
whats the saying, "only fools rush in":=

1st Jul 2010, 06:58
There will be another opportunity which is a better proposition if you apply a little patience. This one sounds like one best left to someone else. Don't let your dream turn into a nightmare!

1st Jul 2010, 07:05
Looking at similar properties on that agent's website, I don't think the numbers stack up anyway.

I see a non sinking bungalow with a conservatory on the back & similar garden for 190k. Assuming yours has to be pulled down, rebuilt & purchased for the touted 100k which it may exceed being an auction, you're leaving yourself 90k for demolition, clearance, materials, rebuild, planning, mortgage, fees etc. etc.

Doesn't look feasible to me. I would not go for that at all, it looks like a money pit.

1st Jul 2010, 07:12
As a very, very rough rule of thumb, a competitively priced build should cost about 1200 per square metre for extending a property, less when building from scratch as it's quicker. That's to get the shell up, roofed, plastered and fit averagely priced doors and windows. Add more for bathrooms, kitchens, electrics and plumbing. Bigger tends to be cheaper and two floors cheaper than one.

As I say, thats very a very rough figure around which there can be any number of variables.

G&T ice n slice
1st Jul 2010, 07:31
As a very very rough guide....

House insurance (buildings insurance) is calculated on the costs of demolishing the building, clearing the site & rebuilding the house. (i.e. worst-case scenario)

In my case my little 'dunroamin' the insurance includes 'rebuilding' cost of 135,000

So if you take your approximate valuation of a "good similar house" of 180,000
then if you offer 45,000 for what (in effect) is an uncleared building site
then you stand a chance of not being out of pocket.

Otherwise.... walk away

1st Jul 2010, 08:41
Also, builders/developers will offer more than repaired market value less repair costs as they'll add substantial value by extending the property as much as planning allows. Unless you're looking to do the same, it won't be viable to match their offers in terms of your realisable purchase/building cost to end value ratio.

Loose rivets
1st Jul 2010, 09:43
Thanks for all the replies. They contained not only physical and financial items, but some of the psychology that shouts loud and clear why I'm drawn to this particular place. Having said that, anywhere that is as quiet, and at the back at least, secluded, is a bit of a gem. Also, if I paid rent on flats for some years, that money would be in the pocket of some canny landlord. Don't like that idea at all.

Yesterday was a 'Good Back Day.' For some reason, I felt like Superman. Most days, I feel like the guy in Twilight Zone I think it was, that had to be made to accept he was dead. (When his nose fell in his soup, he conceded the point.)

The aged couple next door are very nice. We chatted for some time, then found we were at school together down the road. Oh, my.:uhoh:

This is me coming up to 60. Raised and fitted a pitched roof over a dormer. It transformed the room. Love doing it, and did it single-handed. I imagine I can still do stuff like this . . . until I go to get out of me comfy chair.:{

Fact is, I'm happier doing things like this that going on typical holidays and the like. Can't understand why the Rivetess doesn't like her new set of overalls that I got her for Christmas.


I'll probably throw in a low bid and mosey back to Texas. Never know. I'll post again if anything happens. One day I'll put a blog together about the house I 'altered' in Frinton. If ever there was a way to go back in time and give myself a good beating over the scull, it would be on the day I bought that.

1st Jul 2010, 12:05
I'm just (slightly) relieved it didn't turn out to be in Jaywick!

1st Jul 2010, 13:40
I think putting in a cheeky bid is probably a good idea.

I suspect that the sinking can be fixed by utilising a good structural engineer and "under pinning" firm. You may not have to rebuild.

Having compelted a major building job at Cherokee Mansions two years ago [loft conversion] you will need nerves of steel, the cunning of a fox, and at least 12hours a day to keep the "construction professionals" you employ out of the pub, and on target to deliver on their promises in the timescales they guessed at, within an order of magnitude of the work of fiction these people call estimates.:ugh:

I negotitated a 15k 'extras' bill down to 700 by simply nailing some 2x1 battoning on a wall and installing a 15 extractor fan myself. It took half a day. I kid you not.


Loose rivets
24th Jul 2010, 05:22
Well, I put a bid in, and as I said, headed off for Texas. I learned that one builder went in some 12k above all of us. There was church money involved.:*

I'd taken the advice of an architect friend, and two experienced builders. Then added a bit cos I liked it so much. What I knew that others perhaps did not, is that it hadn't gone anywhere for some years. I was just going to live in it and admire the lovely garden. Sliding downhill in the bathroom would have been fun.

Ah, well. Can't win em all. Funny how history repeats itself though. It Wrankels a bit when I remember, cos the Rivetess and I lost a vast house in Norfolk in the early 70s. So big, that after 3 visits, I still couldn't find me way round it. Built of redbrick and stone, it was kinda solid. It made 18,500 quid along with its 3 acres. Gazumped on the day we were to change contracts. Sold to the Methodist church.

Now, all I have to do is find somewhere I really want to be for sub 100 k. Yea right, with a flat in my old town fetching 2X the price of one of my kid's 5 bed 3 bath home here.

It was so nice walking along the beach in the late evenings. Often not a soul about. Who the heck invented homesickness. :{

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