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Building Contractor v Self Build

September 8, 2010

Once we had received grant of planning permission, we were faced with the decision of whether to employ building contractor to complete the project or to self build which is also known as building by direct labour.

Employing a building contractor can be a more expensive option but gives added peace of mind that the build as a whole is being project managed by the contractor. To build by direct labour is to source and appoint each tradesman to each stage of the build and overall responsibility for the project lies with the owner(s) of the development.

As we both work in the construction industry, project managing or overseeing the build ourselves would be feasible, however, neither of us work in close proximity to the site which could be problematic if we were needed at short notice. 

We knew that the cost of building had come down considerably since the down turn in the economy and decided that there was no harm in getting a few quotations in from building contractors.

In order to do this, it was necessary to draw up a bill of quantities – this is a document prepared by a quantity survey in which the materials, quantities, labour and each of their costs are itemised, the contractor then prices the work according to this bill. It also details the terms and conditions of the project. A bill of quantities ensures each contractor is tendering for the exact same job so estimates can be easily compared.

 To enable compiling of the bill, we had to decide on many aspects of the build from thickness and type of insulation to wall and floor finishes which took quite a bit of time and dare I say, led to one or two compromises!

We then drew up a list of building contractors we had worked with previously as well as those that had been recommended to us and narrowed the list down to 6 potentials. We did a little more research and in the end, we chose 4 contractors to tender for the job. A set of plans and bill of quantities were then issued to each contractor to be priced and returned to us.


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