Property&interiors 22 Wednesday, 29 July 2009 London Lite Plottingouta with land prices in london falling, now is a greatMarket moves... BATHROOMS no longer have to be white and boring. There has recently been an explosion in coloured, unusual and luxurious bathroom suites, fixtures and fittings. If you have a hankering for a more deluxe bathroom, look at the Boundary Bathroom clearance for great deals, including a Cia copper bath, reduced from 4,893 to 2,295. SOME might call them spongers but the housing industry calls them rent-free adults. One thing is certain, there are a lot more of them about -- those who move back in with their parents. Student debts, rising unemployment and expensive rents mean that many twentysomethings cannot afford to cut the apron strings. Boys outnumber girls for returning to the nest. AS PREVIOUSLY reported on these pages, Sophie Ellis Bextor, right, was struggling to sell her three-bedroom home near Portobello Road. She has finally succeeded, with the four-storey terrace going for 1.3m. The singer, a mother of two, has moved to Chiswick, closer to Twickenham where she grew up. Conveniently, its also closer to her mother, former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis. COMIC RELIEF is looking for a new headquarters. The charity, which raised a whopping 78m this year, is based in 20,000sq ft at 89 Albert Embankment, SE1, but is after a 35,000sq ft space. One of Comic Reliefs biggest successes this year was a hike up Mount Kilimanjaro by celebrities including Cheryl Cole, Alesha Dixon and Fearne Cotton. THE former Hampstead home of poet John Keats has been lovingly restored with a 424,000 Lottery Heritage grant, and is again open to the public. The house, where Keats wrote many of his poems including Ode To A Nightingale, has been a museum since 1925, four years after he died of tuberculosis, aged 25. by ruth bloomfield T umbling land prices in the capital mean building your own home -- on anything from a mid-terrace gap caused by the wartime bomb- ing of east london to a disused car park or industrial site -- has never made more financial sense. building a house using a modern kit rarely takes less than eight months and, according to self-build specialists buildstore, the number of plots sold in June was up 40 per cent compared with April, and 120 per cent compared with January -- the sort of boom that londons estate agents can only dream of. Plots are available in london now for 120,000 and an average build will set you back about 200,000. but experts say the finished article should also be worth at least 30 per cent more than you have invested, so that means instant equity of more than 100,000. There is stress and work involved, warns Tim Doherty, managing director of the national Self build and Renovation Centre ( but the upsides are instant equity on the house when you finish it and a bespoke home that suits your lifestyle. FUNDINGYOURPROJECT Youll need a specialist self-build mortgage, which is paid out in stages during the course of the project, and you will need some money to put in up front. Typically you first borrow 75 per cent of the cost of the land and the rest of the loan will be paid out as you move through the build. John Hay, head of financial services at buildStore, says the finance is still out there at a typical variable rate of 5.75 per cent. You are also likely to make savings on stamp duty because you pay only the duty on the price of the land, not the value of the finished house. Hay says it is vital to do as accurate a costing as possible and build in a contingency fund of 10-20 per cent. FINDINGTHELAND THe simplest way is to keep your eyes open locally for empty plots. The land Registry ( will be able to help you trace the owner. estate agents also sell land, and check out websites like plotsearch. and experts say now is a particularly good time to build because land prices have been hit by the recession, falling about 20 per cent in the past six months. GETTINGTHEGO-AHEAD buYing a plot with planning permis- sion already in place will be expensive but it will speed up the process. if you havent got permission, dis- cuss your idea with the local council before you buy, to see if they are upbeat about your chances. getting permission can take a few weeks and a few hundred pounds -- or several years and many thousands if you run into problems such as complaints from neighbours. THEDESIGNOPTIONS Prefab: beginners might feel the simplest option is to go prefab -- firms like Potton ( or the eco-friendly Huf Haus (huf-haus. com) supply timber frame houses. You can choose from a catalogue, or order something more bespoke. You may still need an architect for your planning permission, but the firms usually do the installation. Architect: Architects cost more -- they typically charge 10 to 15 per cent of the total build budget -- but they will be able to help you from the planning stage to completion. The Royal institute of british Architects ( holds a list of qualified practitioners, but always ask to talk to former clients before hiring. Warren Williams, a project architect with Julian Cowie Architects ( says prefab is the cheapest way to build, but that you get what you pay for. An architect will allow you to get involved in the process if you wish, and will hold your hand a bit, which is good, as it can get a bit stressful, he says. He estimates an architect-designed build will take around a year to complete, while a kit house will take half the time. SALEABILITY WHen the time comes to move on, estate agent Paul Williams, of the islington branch of Savills, says a self-build can do well on the market -- providing you havent put too much of your own personality into it. People are really buying into modern technology, says Williams. if you have a reasonably traditional- style home but it is very sustainable and comes with lots of modern features, then buyers will be very interested. Grand design: Colin and Stefanies home ProPerty developer and project manager Scott roberts, 31, lives in Chislehurst, Kent. He built his first house in Brockley last year. Scott says: the site was in a row of houses that were bombed in the war. I bought it for 150,000 in 2007 and my architect drew plans for a three-bed house. I got planning permission and we went on site in January 2008. It took eight months at a cost of 100,000. Now itd be worth about 380,000, but Ive rented it out. Its easier doing a new-build than a refurb, as you dont know what youll find if you start ripping an old house out. Do your research before doing a new-build to know what youre getting into, and be sure to have a contingency fund. For information on self-build, email Man of the house: developer Scott Roberts and the home he had built Itsanend-of-terracesiteAnew-buildiseasier thanrefurbishment self-build what you need to know You will need a specialist self- build mortgage and a contingency fund of 10 to 20 per cent of the entire build cost. You can buy land with or without planning permission already in place. If you buy without it, getting permission can take a few weeks -- or several years and thousands of pounds if you hit problems. You can build a prefab house or get an architect to design something for you. Architects cost more but can help you with your planning application. Plots of land in London are on sale for 120,000. An average build will cost about 200,000, but your finished home should be worth at least 30 per cent more than you invested. Colin SmiTH, 33, and Stefanie Weinmann, 35, run an architects firm ( They live in Tooting and are building a house in Stockwell. Colin says: We had been looking to buy a place, but had been unsuccessful because of being self- employed and first-time buyers with a limited budget. That prompted us to try to find a plot. We found the site in 2003. it is an infill site at an end of terrace and it already had planning permission for an office. We paid 53,000 for it. it took us three years to get planning permission. The house we are building now is part two-storey and part one-storey. The build cost is 150,000 and construction began in march. it will be finished in october and will be worth around 320,000. index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html