Finding and assessing your Suppliers

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Always compare suppliers before you make a selection
Always compare suppliers before you make a selection

Unless you plan to do absolutely everything yourself on your self-build, there will come a time when you need to appoint a supplier. And before you make that decision, you will probably want to compare suppliers and their different products.

On the efkohaus website, you can search for the following types of supplier operating in the self-build market:

Shell Package manufacturers

The “Shell” is the timber-framed superstructure that is factory-fabricated and then assembled on-site on the floor substructure. The “Shell Package” is a bundle of services that typically includes design, fabrication, delivery and assembly of the shell. Many suppliers also offer groundworks, foundations, planning, glazing, internal fit-out, decoration and project management. At a minimum, your Shell Package could be a pre-fabricated kit delivered on-site for you to erect and complete. At the other end of the scale, you could have a turnkey solution where you do nothing except receive the key to a decorated finished house.

Each manufacturer offers their own specification in a package and you will need to compare the contents of each package. To help you with this, we provide some useful articles at the foot of this page.

Component manufacturers

The Shell Component suppliers are manufacturers of structural timber components. Currently, the components listed on efkohaus are:
… Glulam
… Cross Laminated Timber (CLT)
… Structural Insulated Panel (SIP)
… Timber Frame Closed Panel
… Oak Framing

These components are integrated by various parties into the shell structure. For example, a Shell Package supplier might purchase timber frame closed panels from a Shell Component supplier. Similarly, a self-builder or architect might order a customised glulam beam from a Shell Component supplier.

In some instances, a Shell Component supplier will also choose to operate as a Shell Package supplier. Such a supplier will offer a package service to private persons in addition to manufacturing shell components for other parties. Where this occurs, the supplier is featured in both the Shell Package and the Shell Component categories of our Supplier Search function.

Surveyors

There are a variety of types of surveyor that you might engage in the early part of your self build project. Many will perform surveys that assess land and buildings prior to a purchase. Other surveys might be required as part of the design or planning process. Currently, you can search on efkhaus for the following types of surveyor:

Land Surveyor
A Land Surveyor can produce a land survey for a plot that you wish to purchase or have already purchased. This survey describes the land, indicates the boundaries of adjacent properties, incorporates plan levels and determines the positions of trees, outbuildings, fences etc. Where the plot is an irregular shape or is on sloping ground, a land survey will provide assurance that the house design will fit on the plot. It can also determine whether other people are allowed access onto the land, through easements etc. Where deeds to the house are outdated, a land survey can also help to update the legal position.

Building Surveyor
A Building Surveyor can be appointed to conduct a structural survey on a building that you intend to purchase for renovation or demolition. The viability of a purchase might be compromised if the survey reports the suspected presence of asbestos-related materials or previous ground failure.

Arborist or Arboriculturist
An Arborist or Arboriculturist can produce a tree survey that plots the characteristics of trees on and near a plot of land. This survey will be carried out according to British Standard BS5837, which gives guidance on which trees can be removed or require protection. The survey includes information such as the tree species, height, diameter, age, overall health and life expectancy.

There are several reasons why you might instigate a tree survey, an obvious one being to assess the viability of clearing trees on a potential plot. Other reasons for a tree survey might arise after you have secured your plot; your house designer and/or the planning office may need a tree survey to ensure that the proposed structure does not impact on any protected trees. If you intend to secure a self build mortgage, there’s a possibility that the funder will request a copy of a tree plan.

If significant issues are raised in the tree plan, you will need a further tree report, known as an Arboricultural Impact Assessment. This report will usually include a method statement for Works in the vicinity of at-risk trees, plus a set of protection measures that are required during the build.

Heritage Specialist
Heritage Specialists are usually engaged to prepare a Heritage Statement. This document identifies any heritage asset within the vicinity of a target site and describes the likely impact on it from the proposed development. You may need to obtain this statement where your self build is in a conservation area or where it might impact on a listed building or its setting.

Environmental Surveyor
Environmental Surveyors perform a variety of surveys relating to the environmental aspects of construction. If land has previously been used for industrial purposes, such as workshops and garages, there is a high probability of soil contamination. Where contamination is suspected, the planning office will invariably request a preliminary survey. Depending on the results, you may then have to obtain an Environmental Impact Assessment report, a copy of which should accompany any planning application.

Ecology Surveyor
Ecology Surveyors will prepare an ecological survey where the presence of a protected species is suspected. The types of survey undertaken include Habitat, Protected species, Ecological Appraisal and Ecological Impact Assessment. Examples of protected species are bats, greater crested newts, badgers, owls and rare flora and fauna.

If any protected species are detected, you will be required to adopt mitigation measures to ensure that your proposed works do not cause harm. Note that the discovery or suspected presence of bats on the site can be highly disruptive to your project. Bat surveys are only allowed during the active season (May to September) and this could have an impact on your project completion date.

Archaeologist
Archaeologists will need to prepare an archaeological survey if the planning office suspects that archaeological remains are on your site. If there is the possibility of your project impacting on the protected remains, the monitoring of excavations might be a condition of planning approval.

Landscape Architect
Landscape Architects will need to produce a Landscape Impact Assessment report if your self build is located in a National Park or an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AOONB). Such a report evaluates the existing context of the site and how your project might adversely affect it.

Consultant Engineers

Geotechnical Engineer
You may need to engage a Geotechnical Engineer to prepare a site report at the request of your house designer or the planning office. This geotechnical assessment report will include information on the soil type, the bearing capacity, recommendations for foundation design and any measures required to avoid problems.

Highways Engineer
You may need to instruct a Highways Engineer to prepare a transport assessment survey of your site if the proposed access to a public road has poor visibility characteristics. The survey will describe the public road type, usage, speed limits etc and will consider the visibility splay for an emerging vehicle. You may also need to commission this type of report if you intend to rely on the availability of car parking in a location controlled by local parking policies.

Structural Engineer
You may require the services of a Structural Engineer at various stages of your self build project. They may report on the ground conditions of the site to enable the most appropriate design for the foundations. At a basic level, they will organise the excavation of one or more trial pits for a rudimentary analysis of soil conditions. Depending on the results, you may need to commission further site exploration and laboratory tests. A Structural Engineer may also be retained to consider the structural integrity of the house design; they may also be involved with the Building Warrant approvals.

Design & Planning

There are several types of professional engaged in house design and/or planning and four categories are listed on efkohaus:

Architects
House Design professionals who wish to describe themselves as architects in the UK must be registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB). Architects have the option of subscribing to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Architectural Technicians
Architectural Technologists offer a similar range of house design services that are provided by RIBA architects. Their professional body is the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT).

In-house and other Designers
Shell Package Manufacturers often have a designer with the skills to produce house designs customised to the desires of their clients. This category is open to suppliers who don’t fit into the RIBA or CIAT categories.

Planning Consultants
Planning consultants are often engaged where securing planning permission will not be straight forward, especially if it will require the interpretation of planning policy and local development plans. Their professional body is the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

Site Operatives

Project Manager
The Project Managers listed on efkohaus are those professing experience in structural timber self-builds. They could be solo contractors or companies that offer a project management service. You will find that many Building Surveyors operate as Project Managers.

Erection Contractors
Most of the Erection Contractors listed on efkohaus are specialist erection firms. However, some are timber frame manufacturers offering a stand-alone erection service to other timber-frame manufacturers.

Crane Hire Operators
We only list crane hire operators that are experienced in dealing with pre-fabricated timber kit assembly.

Supplier Search

We provide a supplier search facility that allows you to quickly find the supplier suited to you. You can filter the suppliers by function (design, manufacture, project management etc), by Areas Served and then by applying filters such as price or manufacturing location.

We explain how to select a supplier in the article Criteria for selecting Suppliers. You can also find the article under the Resources tab of the main menu.

Related Resources

  • 28th March 2019

    Terminology for self-builders

    Here, we provide explanations of terms used on efkohaus: Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) Cross-laminated timber is a wood panel product made from gluing layers of solid-sawn lumber...

  • 28th March 2019

    What’s a Build Route?

    A Build Route describes who does what, from plot acquisition right through to the construction of your dream home. Traditionally, the build route involved you obtaining a...

  • 28th March 2019

    How to decide your own Build Route

    A common problem experienced by self builders is figuring out how to decide your own Build Route. Whether you’re keen to get hands-on or you'd rather leave...

  • 28th March 2019

    What’s in a Shell Package?

    If you've never heard the term before, you will be curious to know what's in a Shell Package. The Shell Package refers to a bundle of services...

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