Self-Build Design

We create custom plans for truly unique builds.

We understand why some self-builders feel restricted when they are asked to choose a design from a range of standard alternatives, even when those designs can be extensively modified.

At Benjamin Allen, we believe in going the extra mile to ensure we meet the distinct design needs of our clients, no matter how simple or complex their requirements may be. Our reputation in the self-build market has been built on our ability to deliver unique concepts that are packed full of character and of the highest available quality, every single time.

The two routes to producing the perfect self-build design.

Engage one of our architectural designers from the beginning.

Following an initial consultation, our architect will produce an agreed bespoke design brief that satisfies your requirements. Once the full design drawings have been reviewed and approved, we will embark on the rest of the self-build process.

There are many benefits to instructing Benjamin Allen to take charge of your design from day one, particularly if you are planning to invest in a timber frame home; our design team’s in-depth knowledge of the frame is valuable in both the fabrication and the erection processes.

Instruct an external architect to produce your drawings first.

If you have already invested in designs from another company, and have obtained the appropriate planning permissions, we will gladly turn these plans into reality. We can even help you manage the build thereafter. Contact us for more information.

Visualising your bespoke design concept.

It’s not always easy to understand how your new home will look from a basic plan or elevation. Our designers will use state-of-the-art software to provide you with 2 dimensional drawings and a unique virtual reality 3D fly through of your home, if required.

The cost of our 3D modelling service will depend on the style, size, and complexity of your design, and how much detail you would like to see.

What you need to consider when planning your self-build.

Certain procedures must be followed to ensure your property’s design is compliant with current Building Regulations and likely to be approved by your local authority’s planning department.

While we can assist you with this aspect of your self-build as part of our service, we would recommend familiarising yourself with the latest Building Regulations. Please see further information below.

A brief guide to the planning permission process.

Every new build – and most extensions – will require planning permission from the relevant local authority. Planning permission application procedures will differ significantly from area to area, so while national planning guidance will give you an indication of whether you need planning permission or not and which minor works you can carry out without permission, it is essential that you contact your local planning authority for their advice as early in the design process as possible.

There are two levels of planning permission:

Outline Planning Permission.

Outline planning permission (OPP) grants approval on the principle that the land can be developed. It is simply permission for the principle of development on a site. This means that the finer details, such as the project’s size, dimensions, materials, and access can be decided at a later date.

If a plot is granted OPP, you will still need to make a supplementary application for full planning permission and no building work can be undertaken on OPP alone. OPP status is usually valid for three years, at which point building will have to have started or you will need to reapply.

Detailed planning permission (DPP) or full planning permission (FPP) deals with the actual design of the proposed dwelling. It outlines exactly what is going to be built, including the property’s dimensions, room layouts and building materials. Some planning conditions will need to be discharged before works can commence on site. Detailed planning permission is valid for three years.

Pre-application advice.

If you are going to submit a planning application, it is useful to have pre-application advice from the relevant planning officer. Up until quite recently, it was common practice for planning officers to visit the site or arrange a pre-meeting to provide general advice on what kind of build might be acceptable, and how the builder could minimise unnecessary costs. However, planners are under increasing pressure, and these days they are are less likely to discuss a proposition without detailed drawings.

That said, central government policy has been to encourage pre-application meetings to speed up the process, and many local authorities have this as a statement of aim within their charters – so it is worth checking whether this is a possibility in your area. 

The planning process.

This will differ slightly depending on your local authority, but here is a basic outline of what to expect.

If your application is refused, you will either need to resubmit an amended set of plans or appeal to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM). For further planning advice for your proposed project, please contact Benjamin Allen directly.

Adhering to Building Regulations.

Each home that is built in the UK needs to comply with the current statutory building codes. Before a build can begin, a set of drawings will need to be presented to building control for approval. (It is possible to gain building regulation approval on an inspection only basis, but this is only recommended for experienced builders and developers.)

The Building Regulations is a set of standards for design and construction which apply to new buildings and many alterations to existing buildings in England. Their role is primarily to ensure the safety and health of people in or around those buildings, but they also contain guidance in terms of energy conservation and access to and about buildings.

At various stages throughout the construction process, a building inspector will check your site to ensure that the building complies with current legislative demands.

As the owner of the building, it is ultimately you who may be served with an enforcement notice if the work does not comply with the regulations, so it’s important to be aware of your responsibilities in this area. The requirements with which building work should comply are contained in Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations and are grouped under the parts listed below:

Part A: Structural safety

Part B: Fire safety

Part C: Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

Part D: Toxic substances

Part E: Resistance to the passage of sound

Part F: Ventilation

Part G: Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency

Part H: Drainage and waste disposal

Part J: Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems

Part K: Protection from falling, collision and impact

Part L: Conservation of fuel and power

Part M: Access to and use of buildings

Part O: Overheating

Part P: Electrical safety

Part Q: Security: dwellings

Part R: In-building physical infrastructure

Part S: Infrastructure for charging electric vehicles


You also need to be aware of approved document 7, which outlines standards regarding workmanship and materials.

More information and links to relevant documentation can be found on the National House-Building Council (NHBC) website.

In most cases, the Building Regulations drawings supplied by Benjamin Allen will go beyond the minimum requirements by providing additional aids to the build process.