Self Build Week 2019 – highlights

National Custom & Self Build Week logo

National Custom and Self Build Week ran from 6-12 May and was a huge success, helping more people access Custom and Self Build, and also flagging up the benefits and challenges of to Government. Here’s an overview of what went on.

Talking to Government

At the invitation of Richard Bacon MP and Right to Build Task Force ambassador, NaCSBA held a reception at the House of Commons, bringing some if its members together to be addressed by Housing Minister Kit Malthouse and Kevin McCloud, as well as event sponsor Ecology Building Society.

There was a great atmosphere at the event, with Self Build, Custom Build and community-led housing celebrated, with commitments to do more and offer greater support for the sector from the highest levels.

Read more on NaCSBA’s news pages.

Finally, off the back of National Custom and Self Build Week, Victoria Prentis MP brought a Promoting Self Build debate to the House of Commons.

Kit Malthouse and Kevin McCloud chat to Studio Bark about its innovative U-Build system

Grand Designs Live

Self Build took centre stage at Grand Designs Live with NaCSBA on the main stage every weekday – to a packed auditorium eager to find out more about how, and where, to build. From the Right to Build registers to finance, NaCSBA’s team spent the week busting the myths that Self Build is Too Hard.

Plus our members joined the Ask the Experts team for the week helping dreamers and doers reach the next stage of their very own Grand Design project.

Also on stage over the week was NaCSBA member Graven Hill – home to the epic Grand Designs: The Street.

Incredibly, the Grand Theatre also saw Kunle Barker, Kevin McCloud and Kit Malthouse share the stage to discuss the benefits of Self Building!

Kit said: “This is National Custom and Self Build Week and we think self build and custom build has a huge potential to expand – other European countries do it much more than we do.”

 

NaCSBA's Gus Zogolovitch on the Ask the Expert stand at Grand Designs Live
NaCSBA’s Gus Zogolovitch on the Ask the Experts stand in the Self Build Clinic at Grand Designs Live

 

Green Building Store

Visitors to the Green Building Store’s Huddersfield Showroom got to find out more about the Right to Build and what it can – and can’t – deliver, while also finding more about the Green Building Store’s range of windows and MVHR systems.

 

Potton’s Show Centre

The UK’s biggest Self Build Show Centre opened its doors and attendees to two of its Self Build Academy courses got an extra insight into the week and what it delivers.

 

 

National Self Build and Renovation Show

The team at the National Self Build and Renovation Centre, the UK’s only permanent Self Build centre pulled out the stops with a discount for anyone signing up to its Self Build Course running through the week, as well as presenting on the Right to Build at the show, the following week.

 

 

In the press

Off the back of the week Self Build made the news with many papers covering the latest developments, not to mention The Street, including in the Metro, Sunday Times, Times and Financial Times.

National Custom and Self Build Week

NaCSBA would like to say a big thank you to the following companies.

Kevin McCloud picks his Grand Designs: The Street highlights

Lynn and Terry on site at Grand Designs The Street

What started Grand Designs: The Street?

Back in 2010 I went to The Netherlands on a trip (organised by NaCSBA) with a bunch of leaders of local councils and politicians to look at a large self-build town there, Almere, built on reclaimed land near Amsterdam.

The Dutch have always stolen a march on us in terms of housing initiatives. Now, Almere is full of self-built homes, but nine years ago it was already advancing, and I got so excited I had to go and see Channel 4, simply to say ‘it’s amazing what’s happening there, let’s film it’. It was a sort of self-build heaven.

Meanwhile, Cherwell District Council, a small local authority in Bicester, had also been bitten by the Almere bug. In fact, they wanted to replicate Almere and facilitate Britain’s first self-build and custom-build site on a grand scale. They were negotiating with the MOD to buy an old military site as they wanted to see what it would be like if they invited the general public to build their own homes.

It’s this experiment that we’ve been following for the last 5 years in Grand Designs: The Street. In the process, we’ve witnessed the first 10 pioneering households build a street of very different homes at Graven Hill.

But it’s just the start. Ultimately there will be thousands of homes, some social housing, some custom-build as well as self-build. I believe it’s a model that could be copied by local authorities up and down the land.

Tell us about the show

It’s very people based and very observational. We followed ten households, all of them from different walks of life, with different budgets and they’re probably at the lower end of what you would expect to see on Grand Designs.

These are more accessible projects costing anything from around £200,000 to £400,000, in terms of value, what they’re getting for their money is good architecture and homes that are really tailored to them – all with the lightest of planning!

Our pioneers are not people with large financial cushions to float on. Building for the first time brings with it a lot of financial, personal and emotional stress – which this series honestly reflects. Relationships get really tested and some fail.

I suppose we see a lot of that in Grand Designs, but goodness me I’ve never seen it so repeatedly and so intensely, as in this series.

These very different households all took a big risk but ultimately, I think they’ve been rewarded for this, with brilliant very individual homes and a great, wild-looking street – which is a sort-of test bed for self-build construction techniques, which I think is just brilliant. No two homes are the same.

WhileThe Street focuses on homes with an affordable budget, do you think it’s possible to stick to budget?

I think two of the households stuck to budget, but self-build is a huge adventure in expression, in architecture, and in terms of discovering what it is that makes us happy and what we like from our environment. People talk about going over budget as if it’s this great cardinal sin, whereas, it usually results as a part of the process because people on the way discover things. On The Street one family wanted a dining room on the first floor, in another household Garrie alters the layout to better suit his wife Sue who’s disabled.

Sometimes building just takes you somewhere that’s far more exciting than you dreamt it would be. Peter and Anita and their teenagers Sam and Lucy, who [and self building]

gave them a larger kitchen, open plan living areas as well as cleverly designed spaces for individuals to retreat to do their own thing. Very important with teenagers – and unthinkable in their previous home.

They did all this and stuck to budget but towards the end of the project Peter realised, he could put an extra bedroom in the attic, and with their two kids it just seemed an obvious thing to do. Suddenly they were discovering what the process of design is. Financially their story was inspiring, the finished house ended up costing almost half as much as it would cost to buy something similar in the area.

Which houses stand out for you and how they were constructed?

It’s really hard for me to disassociate people and their stories from the building. For example, there’s the story of Lynn (pictured) and her house, which is sort of raw with problems. She experienced a great deal of bad luck and it’s very hard not to feel sorry for her, but she emerges in the series with a very beautiful building. It’s one of my favourite buildings, because it’s so eccentric.

Tell us about the eco hemp house

The material, Hempcrete, isn’t common, but it’s certainly earned its pedigree in the UK. It’s a mixture of hemp, which is the stuff they use on the floor of equestrian arenas and is like finely chipped bark and lime. When mixed with water and lime it forms a kind of eco concrete, the texture of horse poo, which you stuff in-between shuttering. The entire house is built from this stuff – it’s highly insulating, structurally sound, has high thermal mass and locks carbon into a building.

Paul and Blanka slogged and crafted most of this house with their bare hands, occasionally with the help of friends and family. When things got really tough, the street lent a hand too, so it’s been very collaborative at times. It’s a house built from friendship really and has a very cool vibe about it. It’s also a beautifully crafted building and a house jam-packed with some very cutting-edge eco-gadgetry which I was fascinated by.

Why do you think Self Build can be so tough emotionally?

I think it’s because our relationships are defined in many ways, both emotionally and structurally. Relationships are sometimes defined with ambitions and dreams, and so to dream of a home together is a huge thing.

Some of the younger couples on the project have moving stories, for example Jack and Hannah, who worked so hard and lived with his Mum to save money on rent.

I think what you realise is just as the dream and the hope of that new home is so very strong it can be a very disconcerting experience when you’re living between houses, in a sort of limbo. It’s all a reminder of how home for us is a very powerful idea.

In terms of it being physically tough, Terry on plot 1 lost a huge amount of weight through self-building and overcame his diabetes. I saw Paul on plot 4 morph from a human rights lawyer into a builder and I witnessed Lynn, who’s 63, lugging huge blocks around on the hottest day of the year.

What challenges did the pioneers face?

Although the planning process was streamlined, they still had to deal with the planners, local council, and building control. This is before they even started building. It was a long list. No one has ever said self-build is easy.

y Grand Designs: - Episode 2

 

What inspired the pioneers to build?

 

I once said to a self-builder, an artist: ‘you are extraordinary people for self-building’. She replied, correcting me: ‘no, we’re ordinary people just doing an extraordinary thing’.

 

It’s the idea that you take ordinary people who have got this slight glint of ambition and madness in their eye who say, ‘we can build a house, can’t we? How cool would that be?’ And before you know it, they’ve turned themselves into true radicals. I love that!

All of our pioneers – who started out as ordinary householders – have decided to build a home and they’re now all transformed as individuals and hugely empowered.

As this town of 1900 homes grows, they’re going to become the go-to gurus of how to build with Hempcrete, or how to deal with the mortgage company. They are the self-build wizards of Graven Hill, at once wise and magical.

Why do you recommend Self Building?

I don’t always! I think for many people custom-build is a much safer route, which is where you work with an architect or developer who is building a house for you which is bespoke, but you’re removed from the day to day. However custom build can be more expensive.

Regardless, it’s always going to be stressful, it’s always going to be emotional, it’s always going to be harder than simply buying a home. Even buying a home isn’t that simple because all your hopes and dreams are invested in one idea, one transaction. It’s serious stuff.

The Pioneers all came with a mission to build a house for very personal reasons, but I was fascinated to see how well it all came together and how, in building a house, they could build a community, an astonishing achievement of which they should be proud.[the pioneers]

What surprised you most about the process?

The thing that always surprises everybody is how long things take and what I’ve learnt in this series is there no such thing as an average or dull human being. Everyone has a story and usually a pretty fantastic one at that, and when we as a species are pushed out of our comfort zone, when the television is turned off and we are told to put our mobile phones down, all of us can rise to extraordinary levels of performance and adventure.

What I loved to see in this project was the transformation from a bare piece of brown field land next to a railway into a proper street and community. For the last five years the pioneers have slogged away, and they’ve got to know each other so well as a result, some have formed strong new friendships. It is sobering to think that they have spun all this invisible social glue; that this is just the beginning of something.

What misconceptions do people have about Self Building?

I think most people believe because they put up a shelf, they can build a house. Or because they have managed a marketing team, they can manage a team of builders, and that’s not always the case.

Better sometimes to be a good engaged helpful client who devotes time to thinking things through and making the thousands of necessary decision well. Better to have time to buy and bring the bacon sandwiches to site in the morning.

There’s a paradox right at the heart of building that explains why projects overrun and go over budget. It lies in the fact that people have ambitions, dreams and hopes; we’re not machines or spreadsheets.

We invest all our energies in the risk of one big idea which is both the most daring aspect of any project, and at the same time, the most glorious. We push and fight for the quality of that idea and that is what makes Grand Designs so watchable and compelling. It is the force that makes architecture happen.

Grand Designs: The Street is available online – Catch up on Channel 4

Fancy seeing the Dutch original in the flesh? Join the Right to Build Task Force on 25-26 September for a discovery study visit for professionals and community groups. Find out more here. 

 

Lancaster City Council’s Self-Build and Community Build Event

Lancaster Self Build Event

Lancaster City Council is holding an information evening for prospective self and community builders on Thursday 20th June 2019 at The Storey, Meeting House Lane, Lancaster.

Starting at 6pm with presentations from an architect, Lancaster planning, a self-builder and Action with Communities who offer help and advice for community builders. This will be followed by exhibitors and the chance to get advice from planners, architects, passive, eco and modular house suppliers and builders including Beattie Passive, The Green Build Store, Hartwyn Eco Build and Simply Modular, The Penrith Building Society, Action for Communities and the Community Land Trust.

To find out more and register for the event visit Lancaster City Council’s dedicated page.

If your company provides goods and services which may be of interest to self-builders and would like to exhibit at the event please email, planningpolicy@lancaster.gov.uk

 

Eden District Council’s Build your Home, Build your Community event, Penrith

Eden District Council, in partnership with Andy Lloyd of the National Community Land Trust Network, is running a free self-build, custom-build and community-led housing event in Penrith on 4 July. With exhibitors and presentations, the event is ideal for any prospective custom, self and community builders wanting to get help or advice, find like-minded people or take the next step on their ambition to create their own home.

Kicking off at 6pm at the Rheged Centre, there’s an hour allocated for networking and talking to exhibitors, with presentations starting at 7pm.

TV presenter and architectural technician Charlie Luxton will be sharing his enthusiastic personal experiences of self building, before a range of presentations that will help you discover more about building as part of a community, planning, finance and more.

Exhibitors and advice*:
• Andy Lloyd, National Community Land Trust Network Technical Advisor
ACT Cumbria and Lancaster Community-led Housing Hub
Atkinson Building Contractors
2030 Architects
JIW Properties
LoCal Homes
Penrith Building Society
• Thomas Armstrong – kit systems
Ecomotive
Unity Trust Bank
Hyde Harrington
Manning Elliott
PFK
Green Footsteps
• Ecological Building Systems
• Eden District Council – Officers from Planning, Building Control and Community-led Housing

And presentations from:
• Charlie Luxton, architectural designer, writer and TV presenter
• ACT Cumbria and Lancaster Community-led Housing Hub
• Patterdale Community Land Trust / Eden Housing Association partnership
Lancaster Forgebank Co-housing
• Ecomotive, a social enterprise supporting group projects with an emphasis on sustainability and affordability
• Rod Hughes from 2030 Architects
• Rob Jerams from LoCaL Homes, a not-for-profit advanced housing manufacturer, offering high performance, low carbon housing solutions
• Bruce Armstrong-Payne, local self-builder and Planning Consultant
• Michelle Stevens from Penrith Building Society.

*Subject to change

While the event is free, places are limited so registration is a must.

Andy Lloyd is a community housing adviser to the National Community Land Trust Network. He provides technical support to communities and local authorities in the Penrith area, helping to deliver community owned affordable housing projects, such as:
• Lyvennet Community Trust in Crosby Ravensworth
• Keswick Community Housing Trust
• Lune Valley Community Land Trust in Halton, Lancashire

Community-led housing includes self-build, co-housing, co-operative housing, self-help housing and community land trusts (CLTs). This housing enables communities to become active players in their own sustainable development.

Sign up to Eden District Council’s Self and Custom Build Register.

 

EXHIBIT: If your company provides goods and services which may be of interest to self-builders and would like to exhibit at the event please email: andy@communityhousingprojectdevelopment.uk

Find out more about Build your Home, Build your Community event here.

NE Derbyshire and Bolsover District Councils host Custom and Self Build event 12 June

Self Build House

North East Derbyshire District Council and Bolsover District Council, both NaCSBA members, are hosting a FREE Custom and Self Build event to promote the sector and share learnings with members of the public. The councils are encouraging anyone wishing to Self Build or Custom Build to register for the event and come along to this free informative event.

The councils are organising the event to publicise the route, and also their activities locally to make Custom and Self Build a choice for more people, supporting people as they go through the joys and pitfalls of building your own home.

At the event will be presentations about planning, design from Lomas and Mitchell Architects, low energy housing, finance by BuildStore, land and legal issues. Plus, there are question and answer sessions giving people the opportunity to chat about your own projects.

In addition, there will be handouts and advice from the companies present and the opportunity to network with other like minded delegates who are interested in seeing their dream home designed and constructed.

 

Date: Wed, 12 June 2019

Time: 9:30-4pm

Location: The Tangent Business Hub, Weighbridge Road, Shirebrook, NG20 8RX

Register for free via Eventbrite. 

Bolsover event

Border Oak wins planning for six-home West Sussex Custom Build site

Border Oak Threals Lane

Working with property agent Fidẽlitãs to secure the land, Border Oak Design & Construction is bringing Threals Lane to market, offering six large, Arts and Crafts bespoke custom build homes near the West Sussex village of West Chiltington.

The 5.43 acre site has recently received planning permission for the new homes, which range in size from 3,000-6,000 sq. ft. All the homes will be designed and built by award-winning Border Oak with traditional, handmade oak-framed construction, and the secluded plots range in size from 0.25 – 0.91 acres. Guide prices expected to start from around £500,000 up to £1 million per plot.

Set on ‘no through lane’ close to the popular conservation village of West Chiltington, the homes will be built to the detailed planning permission, to buyer’s bespoke design and finish specification.

The Custom Build route offers an opportunity to create a made-to-order family home, and is perfect for would-be builders, as the guidance and design expertise of Custom Build professionals simplifies and de-risks the process.

Custom build as a route to market for landowners

Fidẽlitãs worked with the landowner to get to point where the plots were awarded planning permission, and the property agent recommends any landowner looking for a route to market to consider Custom Build as a viable way forwards, not least because it offers a more palatable form of development for councils and communities.

Alan Thompson, managing director at Fidẽlitãs, said: “Landowners may wish to sell their land but do not always want to see an estate-style development of identical homes that often attracts much opposition from their neighbours; the opportunity to deliver homes on a plot-by-plot basis for Custom Builders is an attractive alternative.”

While the external layout and design of the development is subject to the approved detailed planning permission, the buyer of each home has creative freedom of choice in terms of the internal specification of all fixtures and fittings. The bespoke nature of schemes like the one in Threals Lane is more likely to find favour and support from local authorities – and the wider community – and can unlock land for development more quickly than high-density schemes.”

A Border Oak home
Border Oak creates stunning homes using traditional oak building techniques, such as this manor house home. The designs at Threals Lane will take this traditional design route.

Border Oak home

New community guide to delivering custom and self build

Teignbridge Community Guide

Teignbridge District Council has worked with the Right to Build Task Force to produce a guide for any community looking to deliver self and custom build opportunities locally.
A Guide to Delivering Custom and Self Build Housing Developments in your Community supports anyone looking to grow opportunities locally by clearly setting out what custom and self build projects can deliver, together with guides for getting projects started.

Neighbourhood Plans

Since the Localism Act 2017, Government has been supporting communities in having more say in what gets built locally, for example with the introduction of Neighbourhood Plans. These measures can be used by communities who want to see the choice and diversification that self build can offer, and this guide supports anyone looking to increasing self building locally.

Designed specifically for community and neighbourhood planning groups, the guide is designed to help residents, parish and town councils and community land trusts comprehend how communities can go about custom and self build housing and the role that the Neighbourhood Plan can play in bringing them forward.

The guide includes sections on benefits and risks associated with the route, case studies and routes that communities can pursue, such as Neighbourhood Plans, Neighbourhood Development Orders, Community Right to Build Orders and more. It also shares an example of a Neighbourhood Plan from Petersfield that sets out examples for how the concept can work in actuality.

Custom build guide

Teignbridge District Council, a pioneer in supporting self builders, has also produced a second guide to support local builders and landowners, such as farmers, can benefit by bringing forward their land for self build, as opposed to open market development. How the private sector can get involved in delivering more custom build homes in Teignbridge demonstrates the viability and profitability of the route to market.

Sue Craythorne, Kenton Neighbourhood Planning group said: “I found the communities guide straightforward to follow, and the common questions section was particularly helpful. The guide offers lots of tips and sources of support. There is some technical language – but having said that, anyone contemplating going down this route will have to deal with all that and more!”

Teignbridge District Council's guide launch
Lulu Greenhaigh-Jones, Carpenter Oak; Luke Copley-Wilkins Carpenter Oak; Neil Townsend, Landowner; Cllr Jeremy Christophers, Teignbridge District Council Leader; Alex Boulger, Carpenter Oak; Charles Acland, Teignbridge Self-Build Officer

Leader of Teignbridge District Council and Right to Build Task Force Deputy Ambassador, Councillor Jeremy Christophers said: “These Teignbridge handbooks were written by custom and self build experts from the Right to Build Task Force. They show how our communities can take control and provide the homes they need for local people with custom and self build.

“Both guides highlight a new way of delivering local and affordable homes. Local community groups, parish and town councils, landowners and building firms can now really get to grips with these new ways of helping people unlock their own front door in much-needed local homes.”

Originally an initiative of the National Custom and Self Build Association, the Right to Build Task Force works with a range of stakeholders, such local authorities and community-led groups, to support them to create more opportunities to make custom and self build happen locally.

Find out more or get support from the Right to Build Task Force at its website, the Right to Build Toolkit.

Oakley Orchards brings custom build vision to Essex

Custom Build Homes is marketing Oakley Orchards, a 51-home custom build scheme on the edge of Great Oakley in Essex.

The homes are designed around a scheme that’s car-free at its centre, with parking and garages arranged around the edge of the development, creating a pedestrian-friendly scheme interspersed with communal spaces and orchards. The organic approach to the design gives the development meandering paths and streets, with plenty of adjacent parking close by.

Village Makers, the company enabling the site, have created a series of serviced plots that come with Detailed Planning Permission (DPP), with an agreed build contract to provide a customisable home built to Passive House standard. Building to this standard ensures that the homes will be extremely energy efficient, helping to ensure low running costs.

Buyers have almost complete freedom internally to design their home’s layout and finishes, with six house types to choose from, ranging between 2-5 bedrooms.

Designed with the concept of community in mind, the smaller properties are expected to appeal to a mix of first-time buyers and downsizers. The scheme offers a vision of quiet village lifestyle combined with extremely energy efficient homes that are ideal for a future-proof retirement.

The custom build element also enables purchasers to choose from a palette of exterior materials to personalise their home, such as coloured render, brick or timber cladding. The planning consent for house types ensures that, regardless of these personal choices, the scheme will read as a single coherent design.
Oakley Orchards house type 1Oakley Orchards house type 2Oakley Orchards house type 3

Three of the six house types available

Purchasers benefit from only paying stamp duty on the plot, as opposed to the finished house, which can generate savings of up to £15,000. Buyers have 18 months to complete the construction of their house from purchase, to ensure the scheme is built on in a timely manner.

The project has been enabled by a local farmer, Pete Thompson, in joint venture with Village Makers, in a great example of how custom build can connect local landowners with quality development that values placemaking.

Ryan Blair, Head of Operations at Custom Build Homes said, “Oakley Orchards is a great example of a residential development which has been designed with a complete focus on improving the lifestyle of all those who will live there.

By adopting a custom build process, the developer has ensured residents will benefit from both a house that works for them and a well-considered new neighbourhood with community at is core. Custom Build Homes are excited to be working with Village Makers to promote Oakley Orchards and we look forward to supporting buyers throughout the sales process and beyond.”

Custom Build Homes are the sole selling agent for Oakley Orchards, with plots ranging from £55,000 to £310,000. Build costs vary depending on spec and the size of the build, but Village Makers anticipate build costs to range between £1,400 to £1,600 per sqm.
Find out more at Oakley Orchards website, or visit Custom Build Homes to find out more about purchasing a plot at this unique development.

As an estate agent, Custom Build Homes also has a range of other developments that it is marketing across the UK.

Gingerbread city showcases custom build homes from Urban Mesh Design

Urban Mesh at Gingerbread City

NaCSBA member Urban Mesh Design has joined a host of other architects, designers and engineers to create a custom build development in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s festive Gingerbread City project.

The Gingerbread City has become an annual fixture at the museum, bringing a fun seasonal attraction with a serious message of building better to improve how and where we live. Created by the Museum of Architecture, the exhibition is designed to connect the public with architecture, with this year’s theme of Imagining the Future City posing the question of what our cities could become with vision and enthusiasm.

Urban Mesh decided to create a custom build terrace of houses to publicise the route to ownership, with Custom Bake Close showing the diversity that custom building can bring to the housing market by giving more people a hand in designing or building their own home, of course with the support of NaCSBA – the National Custom and Self Bake Association! Consequently, its design for a terrace of customised homes features a range of designs and approaches to home ownership.

The exhibition includes a high-line with light rail, cable car and cycle paths, the Hot Cross Pub, cinema, bridges and more. Families can also take part in workshops to create their own edible buildings as part of this year’s show.

Urban Mesh at Gingerbread City  
The Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread City runs at the V&A from December 8-January 6, thegingerbreadcity.com

Tickets cost: £6, with V&A Members and children under 12 free, and the event is in the Creative Studio, Level 4