The National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC) in Swindon has launched a new event called Market Day, where many of its exhibitors will be encouraged to be on stand to chat to self builders in a relaxed and informal setting.

Kicking off on Friday 8 March, 10am-3pm, the Market Days will be on the second Friday of each month. The event is being organised following requests from visitors, to give people the chance to discuss projects in detail away from the busyness of the traditional show days.

Plus, visitors will be able to join a free guided tour of the NSBRC’s new-build educational zone at midday.

A list of exhibitors who will be on stand for the next upcoming Market Day is available on the NSBRC’s website, so you can plan you trip to speak to the right companies for your project.

Find out more about the NSBRC’s Market Days

The Right to Build Task Force has published new data that illustrates that not only are self build homes more sustainable than the average new build, but they have a greater beneficial local impact in terms of spend on materials and labour.

This is welcome news that adds weight to the case for a site when it is submitted for planning, contributing to the argument about a site’s impact versus its harm locally.

The National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) has long known anecdotally that individuals invest more in their own homes in terms of green tech and sustainable methods than mainstream builders, but welcomes the news that for the first time there is data-based evidence to support this.

In terms of building greener, this is mainly due to the fact that self builders invest more than a mainstream builder would as they want a home that’s more energy-efficient and in which they intend to live in for a long time. Equally, they don’t need to factor in a profit margin, unlike speculative builders.

NaCSBA also welcomes the news that the model contributes more locally than speculative building does, as it feeds into local economies – boosting SME businesses and offering training opportunities.

About the research

The analysis was conducted by Chamberlain Walker Economics, which used five local authority areas for the research, chosen as they represent a range of types and sizes. These were Breckland Council, Durham CouncilFolkestone and Hythe District CouncilHerefordshire Council and South Gloucestershire Council.

Sustainability of self build homes

The Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) of self build homes in the five areas were reviewed to compare energy usage, in comparison to new builds in these areas.

The research looked at two metrics: average energy consumption and average CO2 emissions. This found that the average energy consumption of custom and self build homes was significantly lower, by 8-42%, while CO2 emissions were also lower, by 7-43%, in comparison to new build local averages.

This adds to the growing evidence of custom and self build as a greener route to housing, such as the survey that showed that more than 50% of self builds have a renewable energy source as their primary heating system.

Local economic impact

Using the same five areas, the research examined the economic factors around the local impact of labour and materials for custom and self build. It found that these homes roughly doubled the economic impact of mainstream housebuilding, as self builders buy more materials locally, and also source SME trades for their project.

This equated to self build spending nearly double, at £45 in every £100 spent, as opposed to mainstream housebuilders, who spend £22 on local materials and labour.

This is good news for local authorities, as well as providing a pool of work for SME housebuilders, a group that government is keen to see grow.

 

Analysis undertaken by the National and Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) shows that there is an at least 64% under-measuring of demand by the Right to Build registers.

The analysis, published in the industry-focused Custom and Self Build Report 2023/24, took a fresh look at the registers, which every local or planning authority in England must host, as set out by the Right to Build legislation (Self and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015).

Looking at a three year period (2019-2022), it found that 83,430 people were interested in pursuing an owner-commissioned home, in comparison to the 29,697 people who had signed up to a local authority register for the same three year period. This shows that the demand reflected by these registers is underestimated by at least two thirds.

For the purpose of the analysis NaCSBA reviewed the postcode data of people interested in custom and self building and compared this data against total numbers who had signed a register. It marked interest as those people who had invested roughly £40 on either a magazine subscription or in attending a self build show, with the associated costs for the entire day. For this it assessed anonymised data from three of NaCSBA’s Gold Partners, Build ItHomebuilding & Renovating and the National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC).

Why are the registers important?

The Right to Build registers are the go-to source of demand data for local authorities that acts as evidence of those people who want to build locally. This is important evidence that has a positive input into the decision making process around whether a site gets planning – or not.

NaCSBA is aware that there are many frustrations for people around the registers, such as local connection test or a joining fee, which can discourage people from signing, but strongly advises anyone wanting to self build to sign their register.

This is because the registers are starting to feed into appeals that are leading to companies being awarded planning permission for self build sites, when they were originally turned down, as well as contributing to more supportive local policy to emerge to help meet this demand.

However, local authorities should also be considering secondary sources of data for evidencing demand, such as the multiple effect that the registers underestimate demand – as shown by this research. This helps create a fuller picture of local demand.

Find and sign your local register

 

Image credit: Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Callum Park Lower Halstow, Kent is a collection of nine plots offering anyone wanting to build a custom build option, with the plots purchased at ‘Golden Brick’. There are five remaining plots and you can find out more on an open day on Saturday 27 January, 11am, when you can visit the site and find out more about the route.

The site is enabled by NaCSBA member Custom Build Homes (CB) on this former equine centre, in partnership with a local development company Masters Knowles Developments.

Overlooking the River Medway and with great transport links to London the site features custom build homes where buyers have a choice of configurations and designs, as agreed in the planning permission. Once tailored to the buyer’s preferences, the homes will be built out by the developer on their behalf as a ‘Blank Canvas’, ready for the owner to complete.

This model is great for first timers to self build, as much of the hard work connected with the big decision has already been done, and homes are handed over as a plastered and painted shell.

The remaining plots start from £458,000, with discounts available on legal fees for reservations before 10 February. Plots are purchased at ‘Golden Brick’, with the foundations and services in place – a mechanism that offers significant self build savings.

Custom Build Homes helps buyers finish their build through its unique ‘My Custom Build’ App, a digital platform to support the design and fit out of the internal spaces – the kitchens, bathrooms, flooring and decorations. The App also links buyers up with some local trades and vendors to streamline the process.

Find and sign Swale’s Self Build Register

The National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC) has released an infographic sharing the data from its 2023 consumer aspirations survey, which finds that three quarters of self builders are over 55.

The research, which is conducted in association with the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA), is the third annual survey of those interested in self building, made up of users of NaCSBA’s Self Build Portal or visitors to the NSBRC in Swindon. This resulted in the survey capturing the opinions and actions of 759 responses, giving weight to the data.

In line with the sentiments expressed in previous surveys, the data showed that over 90% said they would not buy a new, spec-built home, while over 90% also said that sustainability, including micro-renewables, was a major consideration for them. 

 

Significant findings

Average ages

Most self builders are between 55-64, with just 1 in 10 under 45. This older age profile has risen slightly over the last three years, but NaCSBA continues to lobby for more opportunities for younger self builders, such as more small sites. 

Finance & age

While the average joint household income is £67,000, many people build with lower household incomes, but this is often because they are retired.

Only 40% of respondees said they worked full time.

New builds

NaCSBA welcomes the fact that over two thirds of resondees successfully found land to build a brand new house. 

Of those who are self building, self-managed is the most common route, with 40% opting to get stuck in. 

Total budgets

The spend for plot and build is up, on average ranging between £350,000-500,000. This has gradually been creeping up, in line with other costs going up across the board.

Funding

Two-thirds of respondees are using, or plan to use, savings to fund their project. This is typically made up of personal savings and the equity in their existing property. 

Build methods

Timber frame remains the most popular choice of build method for self builders, at 24%, with SIPs/prefabricated systems closely following at 23%. Brick and block was 14%.

The Right to Build

There is good news that 4 out of 5 people had heard of the Right to Build legislation and the registers, as previous surveys showed less awareness. Just over half of respondees had signed a local self build register, which remains a vital part of every self builder’s journey.

Signing might not get you the plot you want, but it ensures the council knows you want to build and it has a statutory duty to consider this when carrying out its housing and planning work. NaCSBA encourages everyone considering a project to sign up to their Right to Build. For FAQs about the registers click the link below.

Find your local self build register

 

 

Click to read the full infographic:

Find out more: 2021 Survey.

Find out more: 2022 Survey.

NaCSBA member Potton is celebrating its 60th year in the timber frame business with its first open day in 2024 on Saturday 6th January at its St Neots show centre

The day is a packed overview of the entire build process when building with Potton, ideal for novice and serial self builders. As well as the opportunity to see the range of show homes on the site, visitors can drop in, without an appointment, to have a chat and their questions answered.

Potton’s self-build consultants will be in the Gransden to offer expert advice informally, or with one-to-one sessions, and there is a programme of morning talks visitors can join.

Seminar timetable
10.40am – 11.20am Build & Budget. An overview of the self build process.

11.40am – 12.20pm Timber frame or SIPS  Discover the pros and cons of these different build systems and the benefits of offsite construction.

12.40pm – 1.20pm Designing your dream home. A step-by-step guide to designing your ideal home, including the local authority planning context, approvals and tailoring your home to your needs.

Plus on the day, each show house a specialist in it acting as a hub with the: Design Hub in The Milchester, the Land Hub in the Wickhambrook, the Build Hub in The Elsworth.

Plus you’ll get the chance to raise a glass of fizz to Potton to celebrate it’s 60th year!

Sign up for Potton’s Self Build Day on 6 January

 

NaCSBA member Air Craft Southern has added the innovative Heliomotion system to its suite of heating, cooling and solar solutions. Ideal for any self builder interested in improving sustainability, Heliomotion is a solar power plant for residential and commercial use, that moves to track the position of the sun, thereby maximising efficiency.

 

Easily installed by DIYers, once in place the configuration follows the sun in two-axes, which means the solar panels can deliver between 30-60% more energy annually, in comparison to a conventional roof-mounted system.

It uses GPS to calculate the sun’s location from its position to maximise the energy produced from solar power. This can be used to power the home, or stored in batteries for later use.

Heliomotion

Not every roof is suitable for solar, and Heliomotion is a great solution for those with sufficient outdoor space for this clever alternative to solar generation. 

Produced by Bee Solar Tech, tracking systems can increase productivity, meaning that you can secure the same energy output with few panels than a fixed system. Heliomotion won Best Sustainable Technology or Product category in the 2022 Build It Awards

Government has announced a plan to scrap the stranglehold that nutrient neutrality has had on house building. This saw a complete ban on any new housing in wide areas across England. The announcement is great news for builders, not only self builders but for custom build developers who have been impacted.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove announced a major deregulation of the rules around Nutrient Neutrality which led to 74 councils setting up moratoriums for all new building, following requirements made by Natural England.

Gove commented that cutting the red tape will unblock up to 100,000 stalled homes, which is worth £18 million in activity for the economy.

In the announcement government squarely blames ‘defective’ EU laws for the problem of Nutrient Neutrality, although it was the government quango Natural England that made the requirements that halted building. Most councils enforced a ban in affected areas as not doing so would have left them open to legal challenge.

What is Nutrient Neutrality?

Nutrient Neutrality refers to run off of excessive nutrients from the land, which pollutes water courses and damages river habitats. But new housing is believed to cause minimal additional run off, with farming and out-of-date water treatment plants being the main forces contributing to pollution.

An amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will bring about the announced change, and building could commence immediately on many sites as a considerable number have planning permission in place.

Housebuilders welcomed the announcement, but environmentalists have criticised government for its stance.

However, government also announced new environmental measures to improve habitats and reduce pollution, including more funding for Natural England’s Nutrient Mitigation Scheme, which offsets any negative impact from house building.

Michael Gove MP said: “We are committed to building the homes this country needs and to enhancing our environment. The way EU rules have been applied has held us back. These changes will provide a multi-billion pound boost for the UK economy and see us build more than 100,000 new homes.

“Protecting the environment is paramount which is why the measures we’re announcing today will allow us to go further to protect and restore our precious waterways whilst still building the much-needed homes this country needs.

“We will work closely with environmental agencies and councils as we deliver these changes.”

 

Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR) systems are a big ticket item that work very well in a self and custom build. This is because they can be designed in at the very earliest stages of your project, to work in conjunction with your building’s fabric.

But what do you need to understand about MVHR to ensure that it’s the right choice for you? NaCSBA member Airflow shared some of its experience with the Self Build Portal, to help you decide if investing in MVHR is the right choice for you.

Why MVHR?

Our changing climate means that homes in the UK need to not only provide heating requirements but also need to stand up to extreme heat for prolonged periods of time. 

MVHR offers your the opportunity to control your internal environment, especially when combined with a fabric-first approach to building. This is because it needs an airtight building envelope to work efficiently, so how you build is as important as the MVHR system itself. 

Efficient energy usage

The heat recovery element of MVHR is an extremely energy efficient process, as no heat is lost, so reducing demand. Conversely, in Summer, many systems bypass this exchange process, to bring cool fresh air in from outside and allowing internal heat to be expelled. Be sure to ask when specifying if your system has an automatic bypass, or partial bypass for Spring and Autumn. 

Used well this allows some degree of cooling, especially as the MVHR system will remove humid air, which can in itself make you feel warmer. Removing excess humidity is also important to reduce mould build up. 

 

Airflow MVHR function image

How does MVHR work?

Heat recovery captures and retains heat that would otherwise be lost as it leaves the building. MVHR removes the heat from stale air as it is extracted from the building. This is passed through a heat exchanger that transfers the heat from the outgoing air to fresh air entering the building. Incoming air is filtered to remove impurities, such as allergens, heated and then distributed around the building.

This requires good levels of airtightness in your build envelope to prevent air leakage, as well as ducting and the actual unit where the exchange takes place. MVHR does away with stand alone extraction systems, such as hob and bathrooms extractors. 

Air conditioning or MVHR?

In regards to cooling Airflow has some useful insight on comparing the two systems. 

Primarily, air conditioning will cool more powerfully, but it does this by recirculating the stale air that is already in the room. 

Whereas air conditioning is reliant on a unit per room, with associated running costs and local noise, MVHR is a whole house system. This means there is one piece of plant, in the loft or plant room, and ducts in individual rooms, rather than entire units. 

As well as fresher air and a quieter system, this can result in lower energy usage, but check if this translates into lower running costs. 

MVHR is better at maintaining a constant temperature using fresh air, but is more reliant on external air temperatures to secure this. Therefore regulating the temperature early in the day will result in a cooler building. 

A more powerful MVHR system can move larger volumes of air which can help with cooling, so again, speak to your specifier about your expectations for the system.

When to find out more

MVHR needs to considered early on in your plans, and needs to work in harmony with your build model. If you are considering it speak to system manufacturers/installers and do your research in advance.

This can be from neutral sources, such as magazines, as well as supplier websites (although be aware they are promoting MVHR). The Passivhaus Trust and Green Building Store are also good sources of information, and the NSBRC runs several courses on heat and energy. 

If you decide it is for you, ensure that your architect and package manufacturer are planning for it from the get go, and that any follow on trades are aware of the need for airtightness. This needs a ‘fabric first’, whole house approach, and this might affect window orientation and shading and solar gain. For example, trickle vents on windows should be avoided, as they will reduce the airtightness. 

Images: Airflow

Member update – find other members offering MVHR in the Directory

NaCSBA member Allan Corfield Architects (ACC) recently celebrated reaching its 500th project over 15 years. A stalwart of the self build sector, the practice designs self build homes and extensions, and works to educate the public through its How to Self Build Successfully seminars*. 

Based in Scotland ACC also operates out of the National Self Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon, fulfilling self build commissions across England and Scotland. 

Many of these are replacement dwellings, offering the residents a modern home that suits their needs. Frequently this includes future proofing to enable residents to stay living in their home should their personal circumstances change. 

*How to Build Successfully

The next seminar How to Build seminar is on Friday 23 June in Fife followed by Saturday 2 December at the National Self Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon. 

The seminars cost £40 per person, and provides a detailed overview of the self build process. This includes finding land, funding the project, the design process, structural considerations, low-energy solutions and consultations. 

BOOK HERE