Building your dream home in Kent

With the likes of Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs taking us through the emotionally-charged and eye-watering expense, not to mention painstaking time and heartache it can take to build your own home, why are we seeing an increase in popularity for building plots in Kent?

From the shores of the White Cliffs of Dover, the county of Kent has been a historic gateway from Europe either through its waterways or via the pretty countryside. Because of its abundance of orchards and hop gardens, the county is proudly titled ‘The Garden of England’.

The familiar sights of Oast Houses (hop drying buildings) dotted through the landscape adds to the charm of this pretty county.  28% of the county falls under the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty title and therefore designated for conservation. In addition, there are over 200,000 listed buildings with approximately 435 Grade I and 971 Grade II* properties in the area – far above the national average.

So, with the general mix of traditional Kent peg farmhouses, converted barns, oast houses and quaint white weather-boarded cottages –  why is there such a strong need for Kent buyers to ‘build their own’?

Maybe it is exactly because of these old, historic buildings that we are seeing this trend. With the ability to replicate the character features of these buildings with the use of old and recycled materials yet being able to include the modern standards of insulation and ecological systems, we can enjoy a bright, spacious, draught free and economical home without losing the character.

Renovation verses New Build?

Certain era’s and styles of period properties lend themselves to small box-y rooms, small windows and heavy dark beams.  Leaking heat, lacking in light and constant maintenance can be the main driving force to wanting to build your own home however when faced with the decision to renovate or start from scratch.

Ensuring the house orientation benefits from the most hours of daylight; designing spacious living spaces with large triple glazed windows, minimum maintenance of the property, low running costs and not having to pay VAT on new build properties, building your own home sounds very attractive.

Trying to insulate a period property to such standards means stripping the property right back to the structural fabric which can be done sympathetically and could require multiple necessary building and planning consents. Ensuring the orientation of the house is correct as well as opening up the box-y rooms and incorporating the ecological systems and suddenly, being able to design a home to your exacting standards seems more feasible and less expensive.

Vision to Reality

Designing your own home is the simple part.  Making this vision a reality requires a huge amount of research and up-front funds.  There are many constraints to consider such as, most importantly, finding the right plot of land. Following that, choosing the right architects and builders, ensuring the perceived visual and landscape impact of the replacement dwelling is acceptable to obtain the necessary planning permission, carrying out both ecological and topographical surveys that are required to assist and support your planning application and then obtaining the planning and building regulations, are all factors to go through before considering.

Adopting Kent’s motto ‘Invicta’- meaning undefeated, will encourage those looking to embark on their own property journey.  Research, preparation, caution, time and money is required but most importantly, surrounding yourself with the right team is essential to ensure you’re getting the correct advice and find you the right property or plot. This will ensure that every step is carefully considered so that time and money is not wasted turning your vision into a reality.

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