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Government encourages self-builders

New help for self home builders launched at most famous address in the country (Published 19 April 2012)

A package of new support to give as many people as possible the opportunity to build their own homes was announced today at England’s most famous address by Housing Minister Grant Shapps. It comes as a new report predicts a 141 per cent rise in the mortgages available for those building their own homes over the next three years.The Minister said that going down the self-build route was an affordable option for aspiring homeowners and shouldn’t be seen as the preserve of those with deep pockets and grand designs.

A budget of £150,000 is adequate, in most instances, to get a three to four bedroom home built. The average cost of a ready-made home is now over £232,000.

Pledging to double the size of the self-build sector, Mr Shapps was joined by a glittering cast list of TV house-building experts at 10 Downing Street – assembled to offer advice to aspiring self builders on issues ranging from setting a budget and finding a site to practical tips on designing and building their own home.

A growing number of Britons are laying their own foundations with almost 14,000 new homes self-built last year – more than many individual volume housebuilders are building.

However, the self-builder’s share of the market – one in ten of all new homes – is still very small by international standards.

Launching a package of measures today designed to turn this into a mass market opportunity, Mr Shapps said that for the first time, anyone wanting to don a hard hat and build their own home from scratch – whatever their budget – will have the help, advice and support they need to get started.
Help to get started

The pros on hand at the Downing Street reception today to offer advice included:

Architecture Expert, Green Developer and Presenter of Grand Designs Kevin McCloud
Architect, presenter and independent advisor to the Government on empty homes George Clarke
TV builder and handyman Tommy Walsh
Architecture expert Dan Cruickshank
Writer and broadcaster on architecture Tom Dyckhoff
Property expert and presenter Michael Holmes, and
Architectural designer and sustainability expert Charlie Luxton.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:

“Last year, self-builders accounted for about 14,000 new homes in this country, more than many large commercial builders. Yet our self-build industry still lags behind much of the rest of the world, with the opportunity to build your own home seen as something only for a select few.

“That’s why today, I’m pledging to back the self-build boom and support the industry to double in size over the next few years. As well as a new website giving help and advice, we’re working hard to identify more land for development and have reformed the planning rules to stop people’s aspirations getting tangled in red tape.

“This package of measures is designed to ensure anyone looking to build their own home gets the support they need and with the numbers of mortgages available set to rise by a massive 141 per cent, there’s never been a better time for people to lay their own foundations.”

Supporting a growing industry

Today’s website is just one of a number of measures the industry is driving forward with the support of the Government. Today the National Self Build Association reported to Government on achievements since the launch of its Action Plan last year. In particular the report highlights:

Improved access to finance – Better engagement with lenders, leading to a predicted 141 per cent rise in mortgage availability for people looking to build their own homes
Making more land available – The Government is continuing to identify more surplus land for self build projects
More builders offering self build housing – there is increasing interest from builders, developers, landowners and local authorities to support self home building across the country
Cutting red tape – such as the new support for people wanting to build their own homes in the revised National Planning Policy Framework’ and
Access to better information – More information on prospective sites for projects is now available, and more accessible through the new web portal launched today.

Ted Stevens, the Chairman of the National Self Build Association (NaSBA) said:

“More than half the UK population would like to one day build their own homes, and around two million families are keen to get their projects off the ground in the very near future. The new self build portal will help them figure out what, realistically, they can afford to build; it will explain how their budgets can go further if they team up with other would-be self builders or do a portion of the work themselves, and it highlights the parts of the UK where it can be cheaper to find a site and construct a home.

“The site has lots of great examples, and is crammed with practical advice and tips. We have also worked hard to ensure the information is as authoritative and independent as possible, in may ways it’s like a Which Guide to Self Build, so people using it can really rely on the information that’s provided.”

Kevin McCloud said:

“Self build is sometimes seen as a long, difficult and self-sacrificing process. But with the right planning, help and support it can be enjoyable and on collective schemes empowering. I believe we can become a nation of self builders. With the right support I believe we’d see more customised homes that reflect where they are, built to higher standards and to a better quality. We’d see people sharing skills and saving money. We’d see neighbours working together on community self build schemes and local construction economies thriving. And we’d certainly see more energy efficient buildings and a wider embracing of green technologies.”

George Clarke said:

“Id like it to be made much easier for a new generation of younger people to be get their self build projects off the ground. Few people realise that it is possible to build a very affordable, custom-designed home for quite a modest amount. And if young people team up with others, it’s possible to make even bigger savings – perhaps reducing the cost of a new home by 30 per cent or more. So self build really can be a route to affordable housing. This new portal explains in depth how group self build schemes can be delivered and I’m sure it will help to increase the number of innovative low cost self build projects that are completed in the UK.”

Kate Coutts and Alex White, both 30, are one of the would-be self build couples attending the Masterclass. Kate said:

“Currently it’s really difficult to find good independent information about how to best get a self build project underway. We’re currently renting, and are very keen on self build as a way of getting ourselves on the first step of the housing ladder. When we looked at the portal we found it very helpful – by checking out the interactive guide we’ve been able to get a much clearer idea of what we might be able to afford, and how to get the most from our limited budget. Before the portal there wasn’t a good independent site with all the necessary information and guidelines. The site is really useful especially with so many links to external sites, contractors, etc, and it has hugely cut down the amount of time spent researching.”

Notes to editors

1. The new Portal can be found at:

2. A progress report to Government on the implementation of the Action Plan to promote the growth of self build housing (National Self Build Association March, 2012) can be found at:

3. The National Planning Policy Framework does a number of things to help aspiring self-builders. In particular, it:

Asks local planning authorities to prepare a Strategic Housing Market Assessment to assess their full housing needs and ensure that this identifies the scale and mix of housing and the range of tenures that the local population is likely to need over the plan period – including the need for housing by people who wish to build their own homes (paragraph 159), and
Asks local planning authorities to use their evidence base to ensure that their local plan meets the assessed needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area in full and to deliver a wide choice of high quality homes and widen opportunities for home ownership – including people wishing to build their own homes (Paragraph 50).

4. The Self Build Homes industry contributes approximately £3.6 billion a year to the national economy. Currently self home builders are building more homes each year than many of our individual volume housebuilders, with around 13,800 self build homes completed in the UK in 2010/11.

5. Only one in ten new UK homes are self built. In some counties like Germany and Austria, numbers are as high as 70 to 80 per cent.

6. Datamonitor predicts a 141 per cent growth in gross advances for self build mortgages over the next three years, from £790m to over £1.9bn.

7. Industry launched An Action Plan to promote the growth of self build housing: the report of the Self Build Government-Industry Work Group last year. The Action Plan, which can be found at

Asked the Government to make more land available for self builders, encourage lenders to offer more finance products for those building their own home, and simplify regulations hampering the growth of the sector.
It challenged Industry to promote new ways of working with self builders, identify new ways to support group self build schemes and provide clear independent information online to would-be self builders via a new online self build ‘portal’, to enable more people to get a project underway.

8. Laying the Foundations: A Housing Strategy for England sets out the Government’s plans to support social mobility and get the housing market – and in particular new house building – moving again, including a Self Build Homes programme to support and encourage more individuals and communities to build their own homes. The Housing Strategy can be found at:

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