Suffolk Building Society graphic close up

A recent survey by Suffolk Building Society found that 69% of would-be self builders were unaware that some mortgage lenders will lend for the purchase land as well as for build costs, as long as the land has planning permission in place, making it a certainty.

The research by Suffolk Building Society of 2,000 people also found that many people saw finance and obtaining land as the biggest barriers, but despite this a third of the respondents said they would consider a self build. This was only marginally down from 2020, the last time they asked the questions, showing potential self builders were not overly put off by the economy.

Correspondingly, concern over financing a project was the number one barrier for those interested in self build: other concerns were around seeking planning permission and difficulties in finding suitable land.

Suffolk Building Society believes this lack of awareness about borrowing for land may put people from the idea of self building, believing that it is only for those who are cash-rich or for those with an existing, or gifted, plot. 

The research found that just over half of those who are considering a self build at some point still believe that the route is the preserve of the very wealthy.

Richard Norrington, Chief Executive at Suffolk Building Society said: “Self build television series undoubtedly make for great viewing, but they do set the bar remarkably high. One could easily assume that self build is only for those with unlimited time and deep pockets.

“Self build is considered a fairly standard route to homeownership in countries such as Hungary, France, and Sweden, and with better education and awareness, self build could become more mainstream here in the UK too.”

Self build facts

The survey showed that, actually, the propensity to consider a self build decreases with age: younger people in their 20s (60%) and 30s (56%) are significantly more interested than those in their 50s (16%) and 60s (7%). 

This shows a different picture than much of the other research out there, such as NaCSBA’s own research with the NSBRC of people building, which found that almost three quarters of actual self builders are 55 or over. But it is welcome news that young people are interested in the route. 


As a main motivator, the ability to design the layout of their own home dropped significantly to 28% from 51% in 2020. Instead the research pointed to a range of reasons for self building, including the route being a more affordable way to achieve the ideal home (15%) or having a home in the ideal location (12%). Importantly for government, one in ten (9%) of those considering a self build were doing so to create a home for multiple generations to live together.

Sustainability remains a consistently important motivator, with four in five (83%) wanting the ability to make eco-friendly decisions about their home. However, of these, seven in ten would said such decisions would be dependent on budget.


About the survey: Research undertaken amongst 2,000 UK adults by Opinium on behalf of Suffolk Building Society.

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