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Shell build: the right route for your project?

Signing up to a single contract for the supply and construction of the shell of your new home can make it easier to manage your budget and reduce stress, says Mike Hardwick
MBC Timber Frame provided the kit and insulated foundations for this 230m2 Passivhausstandard self build project, including assuming responsibility for the airtightness of the finished shell
ALISTAIR NICHOLLS

Choosing the best way to deliver your project – ie how the scheme will be organised on the ground – often comes down to your budget. If you’re lucky enough to have plenty of spending power, it can make sense to put the onus on your builder or package house supplier to complete the work on a turnkey or custom build model. This will remove some of the stress and uncertainty for you, but the level of responsibility (aka the risk) they’re taking on will increase the costs. At the other end of the scale, those working with a tight budget many be tempted to save money by self project managing the scheme; ie hiring and coordinating the individual trades (and possibly buying in materials) themselves.

Somewhere in between these points is a sweet spot that works very effectively for many self builders, whereby the experts take on the hard bits of constructing the foundations, facilitating essential services and building the superstructure correctly to wind and watertight stage. This leaves you to simply manage the follow-on trades up to completion. This is known as shell building, and this month I’m looking at whether it could work for your project.

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About Build It

Inside the October edition of Build It magazine: - Smart Homes special: How tech can simplify your lifestyle - Beginner's guide to winning planning permission - Extension costs guide - Passivhaus: Does it make sense for eco renovations? - How to knock through walls & open up space - Building contracts explained - Underloor heating innovations ... and more!