Should We Rent, Buy or Self-Build?

Hannah and I have been thinking of self-building for as long as I can remember, but only in the sense of “we would definitely like to self-build one day”, followed by consuming all the usual TV shows. We would critique the latest Grand Design, with all the benefits of hindsight. Funnily enough, that was all nice and easy.

However, now we are at a crossroads in life where we must make a decision – continue to rent, as we have been doing until this point, buy a house, or build a house.

Option 1 – Renting

Renting has served us pretty well all in all. Financially we’ve been able to do it without straining the budget. We’ve been lucky in that the houses we’ve rented have all been lovely places, and good value compared with the local competition. Our landlords have always been next door, which means we’ve been able to get to know them, and we’ve never had any issues.

BUT, the fact remains, a rented house is not your own and you can’t change it in any meaningful way. Also, whilst the houses themselves have been really nice, we’ve never had a proper garden. Add the fact that you could, in theory, be given 2 month’s notice to move out should the landlord decide they want the house back, then all in all we’re coming to the end of the renting road.

Option 2 – Buying a House

The obvious choice for most, buying is something we’ve flirted with over the years, but never seen a property that grabbed us, and told us we must put all of our hard earned savings into it. We have enjoyed living in our rented cottages, with all their rustic charm and character. Whilst we are renting, it’s easier to ignore the damp, and small amount of mould that seems to go hand in hand with such places. But I’m not sure I’d want to own such a house, and be responsible for sorting it all out. So, we’d be looking for something a bit more modern. Problem there is that most houses built in the UK aren’t really built to a very high quality. They typically lack any kind of character too, so, that doesn’t seem like a great option either.

Option 3 – Self–Build

If the problem with renting is lack of ownership, and the problem with buying is a lack of quality and character, then surely the only option left is to kill two birds with one stone, and take the self-build path. As an engineer, this feels like the ultimate project. The ability to start with a blank sheet of paper, decide exactly what you want, and then carefully build up the design to deliver your exact requirement, is highly tempting. No compromise needed.

But, if the other options have their downsides, then self-build is certainly not lacking in challenges. When it comes to convenience, renting wins easily – sign the rental agreement, move in. Buying a house comes next, albeit with some additional hurdles, but once you’ve bought the property, you can move in and carry on with life as normal. Self-build however requires a huge effort on many fronts – financial, design, structures, local planning, timing to name a few. Not for the feint hearted, but surely a price worth paying in the long term?

Self -Build it is then

The decision is made. I’m sure there will be times when we come to regret that decision, if only temporarily, but it makes sense now, and I hope will make sense even when the going gets tough…



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