Self builders exempt from planned new Homes Ombudsman scheme

new build homes

The Government recently announced it would be creating a new Homes Ombudsman that requires all developers to be party to the scheme, giving a route to redress for home buyers should their new property fall short of expectations of feature shoddy work. The National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) fed into the consultation back in August 2019 to press the case for self builders.

In line with NaCSBA’s submission, the consultation confirmed that the scope of the New Homes Ombudsman will not include self-builders “unless they plan to sell the property to someone else within a set period”.

NaCSBA is supportive of this approach, but confirms that the ‘period’ referred to will need qualifying. Self building with the intent to sell has other consequences, such as the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) exemption, and puts self build in to a separate category, making it more akin to speculative building.

The confirmation is helpful, as a self build typically involves large numbers of suppliers of services, skills and resources, and the co-ordination of these elements into a new home, which makes them a poor fit for the Ombudsman scheme.

NaCSBA recommends self builders choose from its members when sourcing contractors and businesses for work, as its own Code of Practice offers a route to dispute resolution should a consumer have issues with a contractor. All NaCSBA members (apart form Not for Profit members, such as councils) must sign up to the scheme as a condition of membership. Equally, self builders should look out for members of other trade associations, such as the Federation of Master Builders or the Structural Timber Association also offers surety that firms are reputable operators in the self build sector.

Custom build grey area

While the exemption for self build is clear, the situation around custom build homes needs further clarification. NaCSBA highlighted this in its response to the consultation, where it concluded that, given the relative scale of the sector and the challenges of separating self-build and custom build, the best approach was to use the current legal definition. This covers both self and custom build and, on this basis, custom build should also be exempt.

NaCSBA will be seeking clarity around this, as it is unclear where the options for some custom build schemes, as each one is slightly different.

The new Homes Ombudsman will be able to hold developers to account and require them to put matters right in the case of a complaint, and it can even prevent developers from trading in the future if they fail to meet the expected standards.

Find out more about custom and self build here.

Is your self build home a Home of the Year winner?

HB&R winners 2019

The Daily Telegraph Homebuilding & Renovating Awards 2020 are now open to applications from all self builds, renovations, conversions or extensions. The awards celebrate some of the best homes of the last year, both designs and the spirit and ambition of the homeowners – a positive message in the current climate of bad news.

So if you’re self isolating in your new home, why not take the time to enter the awards and showcase all your hard work! There are 10 categories to consider, with one of the winners being chosen as the Home of the Year, as shown on TV, with the homeowner grabbing a prize of £1,000 of John Lewis vouchers.

Best Contemporary-Style Self Build — sponsored by Potton

Best Traditional-Style Self Build

Best Extension — sponsored by IDSystems

Best Renovation

Best Conversion

Best Sustainable Home — sponsored by Icynene

Best Value Home 

Spirit of Self Build — sponsored by Sips Eco

Readers’ Choice Award — sponsored by Selfbuild & Contract Floors

Best Interior

Plus Home of the Future — sponsored by ecoHaus

Find out more and what you need to do to enter, including the application form on Homebuilding & Renovating’s website.


Credit: Homebuilding & Renovating/Simon Maxwell

New HexxHome show home designed by Charlie Luxton launches at Graven Hill

HexxHome launch

On Saturday 29 February the team at Graven Hill is inviting would-be homeowners to take a peek inside its latest show house by HexxHome on the Bicester site.

Designed by Charlie Luxton in partnership with NaCSBA member HexxHome, the three-bedroom property comes with a balcony, as well as a host of eco features including solar panels, battery storage, underfloor heating and a mechanical ventilation heat recovery (MVHR) system for heating and cooling with maximum efficiency.

Visitors to the site on Saturday can enjoy a tour of the HexxHome, and the opportunity to find out more about building at Graven Hill, including the range of different routes to home ownership available on the site. This includes the chance to discover the brand new release of custom build new homes – a range of three, four and five-bedroom homes that are available to reserve off-plan (From left to right below, the Dee, Tyne and Dart). The homes come with a completely bespoke choice of layout, fixture and finish options, giving you the chance to have a tailored home that’s fully commissioned by you, with someone else doing all the hard work.

Graven Hill already has a selection of two and three-bed terraced homes for immediate purchase, which are ready to view, if your need to move is more pressing. The custom build and new homes on the site have been designed to meet a range of budgets and are available to purchase with as little as five percent deposit with Help to Buy.

The Dee
The Tyne
The Dart
Create your ideal home at Graven Hill

HexxHome boosts the offering for visitors to the site seeking information and inspiration for building, following the launch of the Build It Self Build Education House in October 2019, a new facility taking novice builders through the range of processes and decisions needed to be made on your journey.

Karen Curtin, managing director at Graven Hill, said:
“Saturday is set to be a real ‘access-all-areas’ event. Not only will we be unveiling our first off-site masonry show home, but visitors will also have the opportunity to preview and reserve their dream home from our updated range of custom build new properties.

“In our opinion, it’s time to take a new approach to the house buying process and put the power back into the hands of the purchaser. With speed, efficiency and cost-effectiveness on their side, prefabricated methods of construction have certainly earned their place alongside ‘traditional’ housebuilding methods. They provide an ideal solution for those who wish to create a bespoke, low-energy home, without the hassle of managing a construction process.”


When: 10.00 am – 4.00 pm

Date: Saturday 29 February.

Where: Graven Hill Marketing Suite, 11 Foundation Square, Bicester, OX25 2AQ.

Confirm your space here.

Don’t forget – if you want to self build sign up to your local authorities custom and self build register!

Design your own eco-home at Water Lilies, Bristol

Water Lilies in Kingweston, Bristol, is a 33-home eco self build housing community enabled by NaCSBA members Bright Green Futures, with three phases offering different options of home, from self build to custom build.

With 70% of plots sold, Phase 2 offers a rare opportunity to design an eco-home bespoke to the buyer’s needs and tastes. This presents the chance to bring your ideas to life to create a home like nothing else on the market, with creative support from acclaimed Clifton Lido architects, Marshall and Kendon.

Suited for people at any stage of life, Water Lilies has attracted a diverse, multi-generational group of people to the award-winning eco development set on the edge of a conservation area. The site has direct walking and cycle routes into parkland near Blaise Castle and Kings Weston House and is a short trip away from the centre of Bristol.

Designed in harmony with the existing site, the scheme repurposes a reservoir as an underground car park to create a traffic-free shared garden, with a multi-purpose community building at the heart of the development.

Studies have shown that well designed neighbourhoods have a positive impact on wellbeing, and the availability of community facilities and access to green space are key contributing factors to people’s perceptions of where they live, a sentiment reflected in the government’s recently published Building Better, Building Beautiful report.

The development offers a flexible approach to modern living, with the shared garden ideal for children to play, while the multi-purpose community building can serve as a co-working hub for homeworkers. In fact, one of the benefits of the custom build route is that homeworkers can plan a dedicated office or studio space into their home, while older generations can accommodate potential future life changes with a flexible, accessible home design.

Constructed with sustainably sourced timber, the A-rated energy efficient homes include solar energy while giving y flexibility in the design and layout of internal spaces.

This means buyers can craft their home to complement their lifestyle and future-proof it to adapt to your household’s changing needs. One Water Lilies homebuyer highlighted this: “We got to imagine how we would live in it today, but also plan for the future with our family growing and having options to support our parents if needed.”

Water Lilies custom build homes

Address: The Old Reservoir, Kingsweston

Price: £475,050–£600,700

Bedrooms: 3–6 (flexibility with custom build)

Development: Water Lilies

Developer: Bright Green Futures

Contact: Bright Green Futures, 0117 955 6718,,


York’s Lowfield Green Custom Build plots snapped up

Lowfield Green plots

Six custom Build plots in Lowfield Green, York, are all now reserved, with the new homes expected to be completed by November 2021.

Specialist custom build enabler Custom Build Homes has been working with City of York Council to enable the plots, supporting people interested in an owner-commissioned home with their applications, with the plots sold by bids following over 100 enquiries.

The south-facing plots at Lowfield Green are large enough to accommodate a large, three-to-five bedroom home, with the option to include a garage, with large gardens, with the purchaser’s ages spanning from 30-70, including first time buyers, reflecting the breadth of interest in a custom-built home.

The plots are part of a larger expansion to the city of York, which includes a range of new public amenities, green space and a mix of speculatively built new homes and a new co-housing scheme, brought on by design-led housing specialists Yorspace.

As an enabler, Custom Build Homes markets the plots, and is able to explain the process to potential buyers, including questions around design, delivery, finance, legal issues and planning. It also offered workshops to ensure the buyers fully understand the custom build process, including the parameters around what they can build with the planning permission for the site.

Anecdotal research by NaCSBA shows that educating consumers about the process of custom building, which often varies site-by-site, is a key element in ensuring that the process runs as smoothly as possible, and people know what to expect.

Tim Moon, City of York Council’s Community & Self Build Officer said, “Custom Build Homes has an unparalleled knowledge of the custom and self-build sector and has supported us to write our first ever design code, legal contracts, answering my constant barrage of questions and even standing out in the pouring rain showing prospective buyers our first ever serviced plots!”

Discover what other plots Custom Build Homes is marketing, or find out more about routes to self build, including custom build.


Sign your Right to Build via NaCSBA’s Right to Build Portal, and start your self-build journey.

Source: Custom Build Homes Image caption: Lowfield Green, York © 2020 Custom Build Homes

Councils restricting people from signing Right to Build registers with “dirty tricks”

Marmalade Lane Cohousing

The National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) has released new findings showing that, while the number of self builders signing up to the Right to Build has grown, some local authorities are using “dirty tricks” to make it harder for people to sign up to the Custom and Self Build registers.

The research show that 1,400 new registrations signed the registers in the last year, bringing the total number of people who have signed up to Right to Build to 55,000. However, that total number on the registers is actually lower, due to people being removed for the wrong reasons.

NaCSBA estimates that over 13,000 people build an owner-commissioned home annually, a number which is growing slowly, but which it feels is far below actual demand. According to the Building Society Association over half of us (53%) would like to self build one day.

On Right to Build Day, NaCSBA conducted a Freedom of Interest request to all English councils about the registers to see how many plots had been permissioned, against the numbers that signed up in the first year of the registers (a part year running from April to October 2016).

The results showed patterns of behaviour that are very concerning, and which NaCSBA will be sharing with Government.

While local authorities are required to promote their registers, NaCSBA believes that both a lack of marketing and a range of “dirty tricks” by a growing minority of local authorities is making it much harder for individuals and groups to sign up to, and remain on, the custom and self build registers.

The research showed three significant areas of questionable activity by some local planning authorities, with more and more councils repeating these as a way to get around managing their duties.

This restricts the opportunity for people to self-build, acting as a restrictor in the market that limits activity to those with enough money or equity to commission their own home – the very people who didn’t need the support of the legislation in the first place.

Barriers to signing the registers

Constraints: Local authorities are imposing unreasonable constraints to signing the registers. This includes the charging of excessive fees to sign up to, and stay on, the registers. It also could be a local connection test that denies those living outside an authority the chance to build a home there – despite no such restrictions being in place in the wider market.

Miscounting: Local authorities must demonstrate how many self build plots they have granted permission for, to compare to people on the registers each year. Many councils are counting plots intended for building on by housing developers as potential self-build plots – even though they have were never marketed as such.

Removals: Some councils have removed many people from their registers for the wrong reasons, thereby reducing the number of plots that they must permission. Examples include restarting registers with new conditions, removing people as part of GDPR data protection exercises and so on.

Right to Build Day

The 30 October 2019 was the first date ever when local authorities had to demonstrate that they had ‘permissioned’ enough plots to reflect the demand evidenced by the registers, for those that signed up in the first year of the registers. Permissioned means the act of granting a self or custom build permission, and each year councils will have to match ‘permissions’ with the number of people that signed up. It doesn’t mean that the council has to create plots itself, nor does it have to contact people on the registers.

Despite permissioning sufficient plots being a requirement of the law, 8% of all authorities said they had not met their duties under the legislation and 37% failed to provide any response at all.

Of all the councils, only 45% claimed that they had met their legal duties, but this figure includes those councils that achieved this by using some, or all, of the limiting factors set out above.

Consequently, NaCSBA believes that the numbers provided are simply too unreliable for an accurate assessment of custom and self build delivery to take place.

NaCSBA is calling on local authorities to act within the letter and the spirit of the law and do better in future, especially as it estimates that at least 8,000 people have been wrongfully removed from registers.

Kevin McCloud, Self Build Champion, said: “It is about time councils got off the fence and positively support this piece of legislation. The launch of the Right to Build register was an encouraging start of the movement to improve the availability of custom and self-build plots across the country, however, authorities still need to offer better service to residents wanting to build their own homes. At the moment, the return on entries to the register is nowhere near as high as it needs to be in order to meet targets and encourage an increase in the number of custom and self-build homes by the British public.”

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, NaCSBA’s CEO said, “For the first time, local authorities have had to meet a statutory duty to help self builders access the plots that are needed. It is clear that overall they have come up short. In some cases, this is despite the hard work and best efforts of the authority, and we recognise those that have worked hard in this area.

“In too many cases however local authorities have spent scarce time and effort not on delivering plots but rather on seeking to avoid their obligations. This cannot continue, not least if we are to deliver homes in the volume and of the quality that this country needs.”

England has the lowest known rate of owner-commissioned homes among developed economies, and NaCSBA plans to work with government to improve this, giving more people the chance to live in a home designed to suit their needs.

NaCSBA still urges anyone wanting to build, including community-led groups, to sign up to the Right to Build as the registers remain a vital element in demonstrating to authorities how many people want to self build.

Sign up for your Right to Build

Image: Marmalade Lane Cohousing by TOWN.

Home of the Year 2019 winners revealed

Home of the year

The best new homes of 2019 have been awarded in the Home of the Year awards by Homebuilding and Renovating and the Daily Telegraph, including Self Builds, extensions, conversions and renovations.

The awards have been running for nearly thirty years now, meaning that the judges have a good idea of what’s needed to elevate the entries into the winning criteria.

The overall winner of the Home of the Year & Best Contemporary Self Build went to  Bunch Lane House, which had a build cost of £425,000 by Architect Vint & Smith Architecture + Design, pictured.

The judges felt that the house was a great design crafted for a great value of £1,500/m2, created by owner and architect Tavia and Richard Vint through the clever use of cost effective materials.

HB&R winners 2019

Best Contemporary-Style Self Build — sponsored by Folding Doors 2 U

Best Traditional-Style Self Build — sponsored by Rationel Windows & Doors

Best Extension — sponsored by ABC+ Warranty

Best Renovation — sponsored by Yeoman Rainguard

Best Conversion — sponsored by Etex (Exteriors) UK, providers of Eternit Slates

Best Eco Home — sponsored by Ecology Building Society

Home of the Year — sponsored by Icynene

Spirit of Self Build — sponsored by Hörmann

Readers’ Choice Award — sponsored by Selfbuild & Contract Floors

Check out all the winners on Homebuilding & Renovating’s website. 


Credit: Homebuilding & Renovating/Simon Maxwell

Get Christmas wrapped with a Self Build magazine subscription – it’s never too early to start preparing

Christmas present

What makes a good Christmas present? Socks that sit in a draw? A bottle of fizz that’s gone in an evening? Well why not make a year out of Christmas for the Self Builder in your life and give them a subscription to their favourite homes magazine for Self Builders.

NaCSBA knows that educating yourself is the surest way to get the most out of you build, and magazines are a great way to do this, from the latest products to avoiding pitfalls and saving money. The build titles are packed with seriously helpful features and case studies to show you what you could achieve – and usually how much a look actually costs – invaluable!

  • Advice and guidance for the entire build process
  • News about services and plots
  • Information about everything from sourcing a plot to the finished home’s warranty
  • Case studies sharing real people’s journey to Self Building
  • Advice about green and eco measures
  • Latest home trends, products, gadgets and gizmos

Choose your favourite and give the gift of a dream home…

Don’t miss this exclusive offer brought to you buy Self Build Portal! Subscribe to Build It magazine for Christmas and receive 12 issues of for just £19.99. Don’t delay, this offer lasts until 21st December! Plus, you’ll get two free tickets to a Build It Live, worth £24! Build It’s Shows are Kent (8-9 Feb) North West (22-23 Feb) and South Central (6-7 June).

Regular Cover Price is £4.99.

Subscribe to Build It

Check out Self Build & Designs brilliant Christmas trial offer of 5 issues for £5, following on at £36 for the next twelve months by Direct Debit, especially for Self Build Portal users. Subscribers get a FREE pair of show tickets to either the Peterborough Show (7-8 March) or the Exeter show (12-13 September)

Regular Cover Price is £4.99.

Subscribe to SelfBuild & Design

Grab a subscription for Homebuilding & Renovating and start planning your own project, for £7.50 for three months or for £29,99 a year – all by Direct Debit, plus, plus claim two free tickets to all eight Homebuilding & Renovating Shows, worth a combined £216! Shows are: Farnborough (18-19 Jan), NEC (26-29 March), Glasgow (30-31 May), Surrey (27-28 June), London (25-27 Sept), Edinburgh (17-18 Oct), Harrogate (6-8 Nov) and Somerset (21-22 Nov).

Regular Cover Price is £4.65.

Subscribe to Homebuilding & Renovating

Follow everyone’s favourite inspo programme and keep up with latest design trends with a subscription to Grand Design magazine for £2.20 a month based on a year’s subscription, paid for month-by-month.

Regular Cover Price is £4.40.

Subscribe to Grand Designs




And if you’re more of an interiors person…

If a conversion or renovation is more your thing, or you just love traditional interiors, pick up a subscription to Period Living for £7.50 for three months by Direct Debit, or £29.99 for a whole year.

Regular Cover Price is £3.99.

Subscribe to Period Living

For home lovers with modern tastes check our Real Homes, for £7.50 for three months by Direct Debit, or £29.99 for a whole year.

Regular Cover Price is £4.45.

Subscribe to Real Homes


Credit: Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

12 Custom Build homes come to Essex in new collaboration

Pound Lane CGI

In a collaboration between architects and specialist custom build developer Unboxed Homes, a new development will bring 12 Custom Build plots to Laindon in Essex, with homes delivered by 2023.

The project is breaking new ground in that it is co-funded by a team of architects, AOC, Mae and Pitman Tozer in addition to Unboxed Homes, reflecting the practices’ commitment to the route.

The 1.2 hectare site features three, four and five-bedroom houses, and Basildon Council unanimously approved the development at Pound Lane following Homes England securing the original planning permission.

There are three designs available on site, the PTA S6 House by Pitman Tozer, MyHouse by Mae and the littleBIG House by AOC, and homes come with a range of options to allow people to customise them to their needs and budgets. This includes options around the layout and number of bedrooms and bathrooms, fixtures and finishes and an optional garage.

Purchasing a home at shell, where just the external structure is completed, is also an option, with the purchaser commissioning the remaining trades to complete the home themselves.

Prices for the homes start from £376,000, with the homes set in an appealing wooded location with a private access road leading to a central communal space.

Gus Zogolovitch of Unboxed Homes said, “Custom build is all about creating choice and value and reducing waste. We think people want to have a greater say in the way they live and that’s what we are doing. Our customers will get to choose from literally thousands of options to get the house that is perfect for them and their family,.”

Register your interest in Pound Lane, today

Sign Basildon Council’s Self and Custom Build register


LivedIN Custom Build brings 10 serviced plots to market in Norfolk

Ingoldisthorpe Pond

An exciting new opportunity has come to market for anyone wanting to Custom Build in Norfolk, with a 10-plot custom build development in the coastal village of Ingoldisthorpe.

Custom build enabler LivedIN has worked with the landowner to create a legacy community for the village, with homes designed by architects Project Orange, and landscape architects AREA.

Being Custom Build, the plots are serviced, with the infrastructure undertaken by LivedIN, and buyers manage the build process themselves. Although pre-designed, purchasers are able to customise their home from a range of choices, both externally and internally. The plots for the houses, which range between 3-5 bedroom, are currently available via Sowerbys, starting from £150,000 for the plot with the smallest house of 136 sqm.

Custom Build at Ingoldisthorpe

Custom Build approaches vary site-by-site, but for buyers at Ingoldisthorpe the following process has been set out:

  • Serviced plots are being sold with planning permission (ready for homeowners to start building their own home),
  • homeowners do not need to hire an architect to design the houses – the homes are pre-designed by award-winning architects Project Orange,
  • homeowners are able to customise elements of each home, following the design code (see the picture, below, showing the palette of materials), which outlines how the appearance of each home can be altered, in terms of windows, sky lights, cladding options and solar panels. The interiors can be open plan or more contained options.

This route to home ownership offers choice and flexibility that’s not typically available in the open market, but takes a lot of the legwork out of the process of commissioning your own home from scratch. By pre-designing the houses and allowing some flexibility, homeowners get the best of both worlds. It also means that the development has been designed as a whole, fitting the bespoke contemporary designs into the local rural setting.

Part of the ambition in creating a legacy community is about enhancing the village setting, and the houses sit around a new village green with an extended farm pond, creating a new heart for the community.

The houses are set out around an enhanced village pond

Charlie de Bono, Director at LivedIN, said, “Custom Build is about giving homeowners more choice – giving control back to those who know best how their house should look and work. And we are determined that choice should also go hand in hand with good design.

“Carefully considered designs ensure that the individual houses are an excellent fit, not just for their owners but also that they work well with their neighbours and local communities. The architects have expertly blended an imaginative contemporary design with an understanding of the local vernacular and traditional features. The resulting designs can be customised to individual preferences within a common style that tie the houses together into a cohesive whole.”