Build It Live is the perfect place to come to find the answers to your questions, speak to industry experts and gain the knowledge and inspiration you need to make your project a success. Before you come along, gain some top tips below – put together by the experts at Build It magazine.

Designing Your Dream Home

Designing your new home will be one of the most exciting parts of the self build process. During the journey, you’ll need to make lots of decisions, all of which need to marry up in order for the build to go smoothly. Take a look at our below advice, to ensure you achieve the best possible outcome.

Create a design brief

Whether you’re working with a package company or hiring an architect, you’ll need to have a clear design brief set out in advance. Often, excitement takes over and this important project stage is either overlooked or rushed, which only wastes time later on. Instead of your hired professional having to guess what you want or need, ensure you create a very clear list of important aspects that you simply can’t do without.

Do you want an open-plan living space with lots of glazing, or would closed-off rooms with a cosy feel better suit your lifestyle? Consider any pieces of furniture you want to bring to the new house and ensure they’re measured in advance, so that they fit in the finished room. Finally, ensure every member of the family (who’ll be living in the house) gets to have their say.

Budget beyond the construction work

The design of your new home will be dictated considerably by your budget and you may need to make compromises if your finances won’t stretch to certain things. People often go overbudget when self building because they fail to factor in a contingency budget, and all the other random elements that crop up throughout the process. These elements might seem minor on their own, but collectively they can add up to thousands.

These include things like site insurance, external landscaping, local authority fees, site surveys and service connections. The price of most of these elements can be fairly accurately predicted, while others will need to be estimated. It’s always better to overestimate than underestimate.

Allow your design to develop

Sometimes, great designs are developed immediately – but more often than not, getting it right takes time and a lot of trial and error. Therefore, it’s important to be opened minded during the design stage. Take on advice from your architect or designer, too. After all, they do this for a living so know what they’re talking about.

Consider interior layout & flow

If you sit down and work out a thorough brief, you should have a good idea of the number and size of rooms you need. As the layout of your home is developed, ensure calculations are made for how each space will actually be used. This should avoid wasted space, awkward furniture arrangements and confusing circulation space.

Accurately sized furniture should always be drawn onto plans at an early stage and a certain degree of experimentation will be needed to visualise how the room will be used. A common mistake is to start by drawing a square or rectangle and then trying to fit the required rooms into it. This usually results in unsatisfactory room shapes and sizes. The best way to start a plan is with a bubble diagram of the rooms and see how they relate to each before drawing walls around them.


If you’re planning to live in your new home for a long time, then the layout will need to have built-in flexibility. This will allow the interior to evolve with you and your family. For example, if you’re planning on having children you’ll need to ensure the interior is suitable for them when they’re little and when they’re grown up. Likewise, if it’s a retirement home you might want to think about accessibility, such as having a room downstairs that could one day be turned into a bedroom with an ensuite wet room.

You could also consider getting planning approval for an extension at a later date. The foundations could be laid with capped-off drainage connections, ready to be used in the future.

Glazing & heat transfer

Large expanses of glass are incredibly popular, drawing natural light inside and providing unobstructed views out. Plus, glazing can be a really attractive focal feature that adds serious kerb appeal. But remember, glazing can have an effect on thermal comfort if its orientation isn’t considered. For example, badly positioned windows can lead to a room becoming unpleasantly hot in the summer.

The easiest way to avoid this problem is to work out how the sun passes over your plot and arrange your glazing elements in a way that will help to reduce solar gain. If sizeable windows have to face towards the south, then elements can be built in to reduce the effects of heat gain. Speak with your designer about this, because they will undoubtedly have solutions.

How Build It Live Can Help

So, how can you benefit from a visit to Build It Live? Well, at the show, we’ll have experts on hand all weekend, providing advice on designing your dream home – and much more.

Ask Our Experts

Don’t miss the chance to book a one-to-one appointment with one of our experts, at the Ask Out Experts lounge. Bring your ideas or plans, if you have some, and don’t forget your list of questions. They’ll be able to provide you with personalised advice and give you all the information you need to perfect your project, and even how to go about getting planning permission.

Seminars & Workshops

We’ll also have dedicated seminars on each day, covering a variety of essential self build and renovation topics, including designing your dream home, eco heating and build systems. A range of industry experts and suppliers will also be taking to the Workshop Theatre stage, to host a range of talks. These workshops cover all kinds of important topics, such as how to finance your build and the government’s new Help to Build Scheme. Topics vary at each show, so keep an eye on the schedule.

Self Build Training sessions

At the show, you can take part in a free taster session of Build It’s Self Build Virtual Training academy, an interactive series of online courses that’s run in partnership with Potton’s Self Build Academy. Each session is presented by Build It’s expert contributors and Potton’s highly experienced self build team.

At Build It Live, come along to a taster session to discover what you can expect from a full training session with the academy. Build It Live features short, 20-minute taster sessions of the courses. These cover topics such as Designing Your Dream Home: Master the Process – and much more!


At every Build It Live show you’ll be able to meet hundreds of suppliers and companies, browse thousands of products and gain the advice and inspiration you need. Explore our full list of Exhibitors here and make a note of all the companies you’d like to meet during your trip. There will be plenty of architects and package home companies on hand to help you with your dream build.

Explore our full show line-up today and start planning your visit.

The Naked House

The Naked House is a fantastic opportunity to see inside a home at first-fix. This half-built, cutaway home will be built from ICF blocks, right in the heart of the exhibition hall. From windows to roof trusses, heat pumps to render, it will give you an unrivalled insight into what it takes to build your own home.