Dean Barrett asks:
I am considering a self build having nearly completed a general overhaul of our 1960's bungalow. I want to start by reading magazines, and the three I have found on google are:
Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine
SelfBuild & Design Magazine
Build It Magazine
I assume they are all covering the same ground, but wonder which is best?
Peter White reckons:
My favourite (and I think the most popular) is HomeBuilding & Renovating; that said, they repeat the same old stuff every 12 months, so I mainly use it as a source for adverts these days.
Of course, book-wise you must read the Housebuilder's Bible, of all the books that I read on self-building (and there's a lot of them) this was by far the most practical, and therefore useful.
Thanks for that Pete. Little bit of background on the magazines. Let me first declare an interest. I have been a regular contributor to HomeBuilding & Renovating since 1997 so my comments are perhaps not as impartial as they might be. Nevertheless…
Build It was the original selfbuild mag, started in the late 80s and was for many years the undisputed No 1. It organised a major exhibition each year at Ally Pally and had dozens of little regional shows. HomeBuilding & Renovating was originally called Individual Homes and started shortly after Build It. It took a dozen years, but gradually HomeBuilding & Renovating overhauled Build It in terms of sales, content, photography and advertising. Whilst Build It's exhibitions dried up after 2001, HomeBuilding & Renovating has become undisputed selfbuild exhibition kingpin: it now puts on six exhibitions each year, the next being at Harrogate Nov 4-6, the largest being in March at the NEC. Build It in contrast has rather lost its way since being sold to Mirror Group in the late 90s. In contrast, HomeBuilding & Renovating has pretty much the same crew running it since inception and it shows - many of the staff have selfbuilt and most of the writers know at least something of what they are writing about.
Which leaves Selfbuild & Design, which is a latecomer, having been going since 1998. It's usually a pretty good read, not quite so polished as HomeBuilding & Renovating, but frequently something of interest in each issue, although it has a lot less advertising which, as Pete notes, is often one of the more useful resources in a magazine.
In fact for such a relatively small segment of the market, selfbuild is well served with magazines. Professional housebuilders have just one, the NHBC's house mag Housebuilder; jobbing builders have the freebie Professional Builder, given away at the counter in Jewsons and Travis, architects have a few like the AJ and Building Design, and "serious construction professionals" have Building. You might also look at the magazine from the AECB called Building for a Future, which has some interesting stuff on environmental issues related to construction and often features an eco-home or two.