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An "Insider's" Design Guide

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"The way any house is designed can effectively double or halve its construction cost and also the future 'running costs' ~ all without changing the internal size, accommodation, type of construction used or quality of fittings and finishings specified; i.e. your 'budget' is NOT the most important factor determining how much 'house' you can or will get for your money!"

Brian D Miles ~  Chartered Quantity Surveyor & Professional Self-Builder



"An Insider's Design Guide"

"How To Design The House You Really Want ~ (So It Can Be Built) ~ For A Price You Can Afford!"

(It's The Essential Guide That Shows How Anybody Can Literally Save 10'000's Without Having To Resort To The "Traditional Industry Approach" Advocated By The Industry's Professional Consultants; i.e. Scale Down Or Cut Back The Project Itself!)

ISBN: 0-9543049-0-X      Published by "Self-Build-Pro"      Download Price 11.95*      Hard-copy Price 19.95* (incl. p & p)

(First Published 2002; Revised 2008)


"The only objective of architectural design work that really matters is to ensure that the client; i.e. the person paying the fees; will actually be able to afford to build the building that is designed for them; because NO client wants a 'design' that they cannot afford to build; without chopping 'big chunks' out of it first!"

Brian D Miles ~  Chartered Quantity Surveyor & Professional Self-Builder



Lifting The 'Lid' On The 'Hidden Reality' Afflicting Self-Builders!

Cost is fundamental to the planning of most house-building projects. Let's face it; finding a suitable plot and building any house is still relatively easy, if time and money don't matter!  Ultimately; it's the quality of the design work that decides what any client can build for a given 'budget'; unfortunately the basic principles that underpin 'good design' are rarely considered in the 'rush' to create the house 'design'!  To add insult to injury; it will always be the inadequate 'budget', NOT the designer's poor quality design work, that gets the blame whenever the prospective construction cost exceeds the available 'budget'!

  • It is very easy to feel that its all your own fault if, and/or when, projects go over-budget; the presumption being that YOU have somehow been over-ambitious in your expectations relative to what has become an "obviously inadequate" budget; however, very often, nothing could be further from the truth!

The building industry has always made it very easy for it's professional consultants to "side-step any direct responsibility" for project cost 'over-runs' by ensuring that the accepted (i.e. only) way to reduce any project's excess cost is by cutting back on the size and/or scope of the client's proposals; i.e. by reducing the quality of specification and/or totally removing some of the project's content ~ accordingly; that is how all professional advisers are trained to 'control' project costs.



"The simple reality behind any professional designer's keenness for you to agree a package of 'cuts' and 'removals' from a project in order to reduce the overall cost; is that often the exorbitant building costs have occurred because the 'wonderful' looking building that they designed for you ~ is actually very poorly designed ~ and exactly the same 'design brief'; if tackled properly; could very often have led to a design being produced that would fulfil all your requirements and could easily have been built within your budget!"

                                                                                                                                                                       Brian D Miles ~  Chartered Quantity Surveyor & Professional Self-Builder



The 'Root' Of The Problem?

The root of the problem is that in the UK; architects are trained and 'indoctrinated' to believe that good design is purely about the aesthetics and function of a building ~ whereas in the 'real world'; the primary objective of good design is to ensure that the client; i.e. the person paying the fees; can actually afford to build the building that is being designed for them!  If the client cannot afford to build it; all of the architect's pretty drawings and clever details are a complete waste of everybody else's time and money; i.e. simply an expensive architectural 'vanity trip' for which the client will still be expected to pay!

Hard To Believe?  If you're still not feeling convinced that the architectural profession doesn't consider keeping within a client's budget to be a legitimate design consideration; how else do you explain the myriad of architectural design awards heaped upon the Scottish Parliament building by the various professional bodies ~ despite the fact that the project was a financial disaster that went literally hundreds of millions of pounds over-budget and only survived because of politicians' innate willingness to spend other people's money (i.e. our taxes!) to get it built!

And Commercial Reality!  Of course; 'package-kit' companies, as commercial operations, are understandably quick to suggest that you should consider an alternative (smaller; i.e. cheaper) design from the brochure; because they are in business purely to maximize and protect the company's profits.  Reducing your building costs is never part of the deal!

Most self-builders like to believe that when they employ architects, surveyors, engineers, etc. that they are going to get the best possible impartial advice and services from their professional consultants.  In reality; the majority of these "experts" have spent their careers churning out basic "standard industry approach" design work; i.e. the design has to look good aesthetically and the building layout has to be functional; because that is the limit of their professional training and experience!

Unfortunately; that 'superficial' quality of design work can end up literally doubling the construction cost of any building ~ irrespective of how it is actually built ~ because it misses out and completely ignores the most important aspect of the whole design process; i.e. ensuring that the client's design brief is fulfilled with a design that minimises the cost of construction and maximises the 'value' for money the house!

The "industry" spends a fortune on "propaganda" to keep self-builders paying high building costs for their projects.  Most "experts" aid that process because they naturally want to get fees in for work done simply and easily rather than complicating things by doing everything possible to design projects solely on the basis of what is best and most economical for their clients; assuming that they actually know how to produce an economical design!  It is a basic fact of life that whenever fees are linked to the cost of the construction involved; the more expensive a project turns out to be ~ the higher the fees payable are!  (How is that supposed to encourage professional consultants to minimise the client's project costs when the extra work and effort involved to reduce those costs leads directly to a reduction in their own fees?)

  • Incidentally; "Self-Build-Pro" (Chartered Surveyors) never charge fees based upon the capital value of the project; all our fees are lump-sum, all-inclusive fees quoted upon the basis of an assessment of the actual work content involved to provide the required service(s).

Just as the cost of building plots varies according to the whereabouts of the proposed project; similarly the cost of building any particular house will also vary according to its proposed location.  However, irrespective of location and/or the method of construction proposed, the potential reduction in the cost per m2 to build the same house can easily be 150 - 300 or more per m2 OFF the usual quoted /m2 build cost for that region of the country; simply through getting the project designed properly!

That may not sound very much, but it can mean a saving of 30,000 - 60,000 or more OFF the cost of getting any 180 m2/2,000 ft2 house built; or 75,000 - 150,000 or more OFF the cost of building a 465 m2/5,000 ft2 "mansion" WITHOUT reducing the value of the property!

Conversely; just think how much the value of the property would increase if those savings were then used to raise the quality of the fittings and finishings!

Only a "fool" wouldn't want to get the maximum possible value out of the 'budget' for their project and to avoid the disappointment of having to chop out things from the design and/or to lower the quality of fittings and finishings!

The 'Solution'

Written by a very experienced chartered surveyor whose professional "expertise" has been greatly enhanced by also being a pro-active "hands-ON" DIY self-builder with over a dozen successful projects of his own; this illustrated "Insider's Guide" shows you:-

  • how to choose a "plot" and achieve exactly what you want for the least possible cost by explaining the design process and the sequence of decisions involved step-by-step!

  • exactly how, why and which planning and design choices and decisions can halve OR double your own project's build and/or future 'running' costs!

  • how good design can avoid or minimize the effects of most site-related problems!

  • how simply including the planning of the physical construction of the house and installation of the services and finishings as an integral part of the design work, can save any self-builder a fortune in time and money that would otherwise be totally wasted with absolutely NO financial benefit whatsoever!


Best of all; it tells you how your project should be designed and built in order to minimise the cost; rather than leaving you feeling helpless when faced with an industry more interested in chopping chunks out of your project to reduce it's cost than either designing it properly or tackling the obscenely expensive 'built-in' construction costs that add absolutely nothing to the value of the finished property!



You can download an electronic version of the book for 11.95 directly onto your computer.  Downloaded copies of books can be read on 'screen' and/or you can print off your own copies of the book to suit yourself!

Simply click on the blue highlighted >>> "An Insider's Guide" <<< link for further information and/or to purchase the book!

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