Many think about building their own home but few ever get beyond the dream or even the TV property programs that stimulate the dream. If you do look a little harder finding land, getting planning permission and commissioning a competent architect are hurdles that stop many in their tracks.
Let's start with the issue of finding land; always a good place to start. For many self builders the popular place to look is for old bungalows instead of open spaces of land which have become increasingly difficult to find. The advantage here is that a dwelling already exists on the land possibly with water, electric and gas already supplied. Assuming the property has little interest to the local authority it could mean you're in with a chance of getting permission to demolish and replace it. The internet also offers plenty of plot finding sites which are definitely worth checking. These sites will at least give you an idea of the going rate for building plots in the area you plan to build. Check out plots which may come up for auction and possible attend on auction day in order to get a feel for the prices they go for. Obviously you'll need to do your sums before committing to anything. Do you have much equity in your current house, or additional savings? Remember auctions will require almost instant payment and you need to have agreed you'll get permission to build before you get too carried away and start bidding.
Planning permission is possibly the step people dread most. Gaining permission can be a little less stressful if you present a plan which echoes local styles and possibly uses local material. This is not to say you can not push the boundaries a little, but it's often better to remain something conservative with your ideas. If you present an ambitious plan, good for you, but keep in mind a fallback position if it's wholeheartedly thrown out by the local authority. Again the internet offers lots of advice as to how to go about getting permission. Home-build magazines are also great for chase studies and stories of how people deal with their local planning office which will both frighten and motivate you in equal measure.
Engaging the service of an architect is the next important step. You'll need to push hard to get them to give you an idea of the costs involved in building your dream. Many will be happy to take you into project over-runs with plenty of additional expense. A lot of architects see budget increases almost as part of the course. So choose well and try to strike a balance between those who understand your budget restraints but can still deliver great design that's well worth building.
Do not over look the costs of moving once you decide to take steps towards building. If you have a house to sell you'll need to factor in the cost of estate agents, solitors and removals firms and possibly storage. If the build requires capital locked up in your house then these costs will need to found upfront. Conversely, if you can fund the build through other means you need to keep something back to cover these costs at the end of the project.