You’ve Decided to Build a New Home- What Next?

Many people fail to recognise the amount of time it takes to complete a major construction project, such as a new home. At Brightman Architects, we’ve produced an insight into the key stages of your new build project and a guide to how they’ll influence your completion date.

Finding the perfect plot of land

This key stage only applies to new builds, rather than extensions, but finding the perfect plot of land on which to build can take years. Whilst you can change almost anything about your home, you can’t move its location. As such, you shouldn’t be afraid to wait for the right plot of land to appear, and there’s no ‘right’ amount of time this should take.

Choosing your architect and other design specialists

By choosing the right design team for your construction project, you’ll be far more likely to end up with the home of your dreams. You’ll be working extremely closely with your architect, so it’s key to find someone you get on well with, someone who fully understands your requirements and desires, and someone who’s capable of presenting you with appropriate designs for your vision.

Depending on the specifics of your project, you may need to employ other professionals during the design process, including:

·         Site investigators

·         Structural engineers

·         Ecologists

If you’re going to utilise the skills of these specialists, beware they often have waiting lists. This means you should allow for a longer design process timescale.

Project design

Once your design team have started work on your project, you should receive initial proposals within a week or two. Following your feedback, these initial proposals will be developed over the following weeks and months.

If your project is a simple extension, you can expect to have your design completed in a couple of weeks. New builds can take up to several months, depending on the size and complexity of your vision.

The key to efficient project design is an architect who’ll work collaboratively with you to achieve the best possible design. They’ll require feedback on any design proposals in order to properly develop them. If you’re going to be away on holiday, or have a busy lifestyle, this stage of your building project may end up prolonged.


Small home extensions sometimes fall into Permitted Development Regulations, which means you can avoid Planning Permission. The design and building regulations approval will still take some time to achieve.

For new buildings, you’ll need to submit your design to your local authority’s planning department for approval. Usually this takes approximately eight weeks, although this can be longer for more complex applications.

Building regulations

Further, highly detailed drawings will need to be provided for building regulations approval. Detailed specifications and materials for how the building will be constructed will be submitted at this point. It’s common for structural engineers and other consultants to provide relevant aspects of this information.

This part of the design process is relatively complex, and required the co-ordination of multiple specialist consultants. You can expect this to take several weeks, although more complex projects will take longer to complete this stage.

Going to tender and choosing your builder

After you have all the required design and construction information for your new build, you’ll need to get quotes from builders. When your project goes out to tender, builders will look through the detailed information provided. They will then consult with their suppliers and sub-contractors before giving you the price for which they’ll build your project.

If your design is for a simple extension, this generally takes a few weeks, but bigger projects will take at least a couple of months. This is due to builders needing to get prices for multiple elements of your build from multiple people.


Once you’ve chosen your builder from the tender process, it may be a while before they’re available to start work on your site. This is because good builders are often booked up months in advance.

The size and complexity of your project will dictate how long construction will take. Depending on their size, extensions often take between 3-6 months. A complex site, building a large and complex new home could take anywhere between 12-18 months.

Bad weather and any changes to the design will drastically lengthen the construction time of your project. Weather is extremely difficult to predict, as we have rain throughout the year in the UK. Frosty conditions aren’t good for building in, so it’s generally recommended to avoid starting a build in the winter.

If you decide to make changes to the design once construction has started, remember to prepare yourself for additional costs and a potentially delayed completion date.

Finishing touches

After your project has reached practical completion, where you can move into your new home, you may find there are still little jobs that need to be finished. Touching up scuffed paintwork or finishing a last small bit of tiling and other such tasks can easily end up dragging on for several weeks if you don’t prioritise them.

Some people decide to withhold their final payment to their main contractor until these jobs are completed, in order to have them completed quicker.

The unexpected

You should always add a 10% contingency to both your timeline and budget to cover unexpected events in your project. This can be anything from unseasonal bad weather, unexpected ground conditions or finding old cellars or wells. Extensions can be delayed through finding poor electrical wiring, plumbing or structural defects.


For more information about how we can help you to design the new home build of your dreams, feel free to contact us or call us on 0114 4182480 today.