The Self Build Self Help Site Build Process Outline

There is obviously an overall logical order in which a house is built, and we have shown the main steps below. Within the overall logical order, the order of some tasks can be varied - for example, drains can be put in almost at any stage, although it is much better to get that job over and done with sooner rather than later. Some of the steps below can also be done in parallel, and we hope this is obvious. Of course the design and style of the house may also affect the order in which certain tasks are done.

And, of course, one big factor in getting things done in the order you wish is the availability of the various trades, so do some nifty forward planning. Some considerations have been highlighted for you below.

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Tasks Notes Some non-obvious things needed
Setting out Before putting in the profiles, get the topsoil taken off - otherwise the profiles may get flattened.

The profiles are set so that string lines can be attached to indicate the trench sides - these can be lowered to the ground and then lime or a marking spray can be employed to transfer the line to the soil to guide the excavator. For the blockwork, string lines can be attached to indicate the face of the outer leaf.

Pegs (2" x 2") and 4" x 1" boards
Groundworks Footings - otherwise known as foundations - the concrete strip which supports the weight of the house.

There are 3 main options for providing the concrete:

  • mix it yourself -only really practical for limited size foundations, such as for an extension
  • readymix prepared off site - usually comes in loads up to 6 cu. metres. Calculate the volume as accurately as you can
  • readymix prepared on site - see our page on volumetric mixing

If your site is not best placed to get the readymix lorries where the concrete can be poured into the trench then you may have to consider using a pump. You will probably need to hire this yourself but the companies are used to working in conjunction with the local readymix companies and the process usually goes remarkably smoothly. Tell the readymix company that you are using a pump and they will make the appropriate mix that will flow more freely. The pumps come in different reaches, typically from 16m to 42m and some companies even go up to 60ish metres.

They are actually not that expensive, the cost usually being related to the number of readymix lorries you have. It certainly makes the work much easier.

You will need space to get the readymix lorries in behind the pump lorry and space to the sides for their outriggers. The pump lorry will need to dump some concrete at the end of the process from its hopper so you will need to plan what to do with this.

Battens cut into short lengths to gauge height of concrete, and a metal spike if the ground is very hard or rocky to make preliminary holes for the lengths of batten.

Wellington boots - preferably with steel toe caps

Foundations (Blockwork up to DPC) - ideally should be at least 675 mm of blockwork below ground level before DPC Lintels for the entry of services - unless the width is large, 4" x 3" concrete lintels suffice. The services, and foul drainage, are contained within 4" underground - also get some bends. As well as concrete blocks, get a pack of concrete brickettes - 256 or 512 will be a good start.
slab - usually 100mm of concrete poured onto DPM (Damp Proof Membrane) and 150mm for a garage.

A block and beam floor is also often used instead of a concrete slab

DPM comes in rolls usually 4m x 25m - get the thicker gauge of 300mu instead 250mu. You will also need tape for joining DPM. A good few bricks or pieces of block to hold the membrane down at the edges until the concrete is poured. See also our FAQ section

For beam and block - beams, probably insulation blocks and slip blocks
drains - Foul and surface water. Provide a soakpit if there is no public system to take surface water and a cess pit or septic tank if there is no public sewerage system (you may find that your local authority prefers a cess pit). For a soakpit you will need a geotextile to cover it and clean 40mm stone to fill it.

The Hints & Tips - Drains pages lists the requirements for foul and surface water drains.

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