British governments to push custom-built homes

September 7, 2017 / Isla MacFarlane
British governments to push custom-built homes

Earlier this week, director of Shelter Polly Neate said that nimbyism in the UK was often caused because communities don’t feel listened to – and because too many new homes are ugly or unaffordable. Self-built and custom-built houses are a way to transform housing from something which is done to a community into something a community can do for itself.

Despite growing at a rate of 6.25 per cent year on year, self-built homes remain a niche industry in UK, comprising just 10% of all homes built. By contrast, in Germany, France and Italy, 60% of homes are self-built. In the USA and Australia, it is 40%.

However, both England and Scotland are getting behind a sector that could deliver 40,000 new homes a year.

The UK’s first ever ‘plot shop’ has been officially in the town of Bicester. This first-of-its-kind outlet will sell plots of land on the Graven Hill site in Oxfordshire to those wishing to build their own home – whether from scratch or through customised design.

Once complete, the Graven Hill development will be the largest of its kind in the UK, delivering up to 1,900 new self and custom build homes.

Housing and Planning Minister, Alok Sharma said, “We need to get creative with how we build our housing in this country, to deliver more of the right homes in the places people want to live. With the opening of the UK’s first ‘plot shop’, the journey to building your own home can now start on the high-street.

“Through diversifying the housing market in this way, we can give people greater choice over the homes they live in – whether that’s buying on the open market or by commissioning and building their dream home.”

In Scotland, the SNP Government is piloting simplified planning zones – where planning permission is waived for certain types of development. Ruth Davidson, head of the Scottish Conservatives, recently outlined plans to propel the number of self-built homes across Scotland. The Housing White Paper also committed to doubling the number of custom and self-built homes by 2020.

Virgin Money recently developed a product for self-builders. Peter Rogerson, Virgin Money’s Director of Mortgages said, “The custom build market is a really exciting area of new house building that offers significant growth potential, providing a supply of high-quality homes specifically designed to buyers’ individual requirements.

“Virgin Money is committed to helping more people achieve their dream of home ownership and we are proud to be the only mainstream mortgage lender offering a custom build proposition.”

Custom build gives aspiring homebuilders the tools to design the house of their dreams, whilst leaving it to the professionals to build it into reality. This eliminates the burden and risk traditionally associated with a full self-build project. The end result is, theoretically, a more varied housing market which champions individuality and design.

Since April 2016, every council across the country has been required to hold a register of those seeking to build their own home. Over 18,000 aspiring custom and self-builders have now signed up to their local registers.

The government’s Home Building Fund, launched in October 2016, targets £1 billion in short term loan finance to support small and medium-sized enterprise builders, innovation and custom build.

The Self & Custom Build Market Report estimates the value of the sector to be £6 billion, and forecasts a grow of 41% over the next three years.

James Orme, one of the report’s contributors, said, “As a result of the market increase and other factors – not least the reluctance of speculative housebuilders to differ their standard offerings – suppliers of products and services are increasingly finding the self and custom build market an interesting opportunity.”

PICTURE CREDIT: A self-built house in Germany. AUTHOR: Foto: Axel Hindemith /, CC BY 3.0,

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