NaCSBA congratulates the National Self Build & Renovation Centre (NSBRC) on 15 years of supporting aspiring self builders as they plan and carry out their project. As the UK’s only permanent visitor centre for self-builders, renovators, and home improvers it has numerous awards and much praise for its crucial role in the sector.

No planning for a self build is complete without a visit to the centre in Swindon, where its permanent stands and exhibits support people getting to grips with the process, where they can experience materials and processes, chat to suppliers or get tailored advice. In addition the NSBRC also runs a calendar of self build shows, training and external events that make repeat visits well worth the effort.

Launched by BuildStore, for the last six years the centre has been run as an employee-owned business, ‘The Homebuilding Centre Limited’, ensuring that staff are invested in the services they provide.

Over the years the centre has won several awards, not least in 2017 it won a Build It Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Self Build’, as well as several for its employee-ownership model.

To celebrate its fifteenth anniversary the team hosted a special birthday dinner in April to thank the local and national self build community and stakeholders for their support over the years.

Harvey, said, “2022 is a special year and a real achievement for NSBRC, and we’ve got lots of exciting plans for the future. We’re hosting more events, workshops and courses than ever before to help people build better homes, including a late opening (until 9am) on select Thursdays over the coming months to give people the chance to discover self build at a time that’s more convenient to them.

Late nights at the NSBRC run on 28th April, Thursday 26th May and Tuesday 28th June – visit the website for the full calendar of events.

Find out more about NSBRC’s employee owned model


Stellco Homes has announced a new site in Cambridge, with a choice of five detached plots for custom builders in the village of Haslingfield.

Having operated as a housebuilder for over 20 years, Stellco Homes has diversified into custom build, with customers buying a plot at Haslingfield able to design their own home prior to Stellco obtaining planning permission.

Once achieved, Stellco will then go on to build your home for you – to your specification, removing much of the stress from the process.

The five plots come with preliminary designs (one shown above) that make the most of each plot’s size and orientation. Customers then discuss options with Stellco, configuring internal layouts, external features and fixtures and fittings. Initial designs for the homes run from around 1,957 to 2,850 sq ft. To find out more email Stellco or call 07976 210 875.

Angelo Baccarella of Stellco Homes said, “Most people don’t understand the difference between self-build and custom build and are not aware that they can have all the benefits of self-build and more by opting for custom build. I believe we are amongst the few companies offering this service for people who aspire to build their own home but lack the time and skill to do so and find a suitable plot.”

Sign up to Stellco Homes register

This is a NaCSBA Member update

NaCSBA, the National Custom And Self Build Association has launched its first annual survey of self builders, and needs anyone that has completed their self or custom build in the last five years to help out.

The survey takes around 10 minutes to fill in – but you are performing an invaluable service to the sector and anyone that dreams of building or commissioning their own home! And to thank you NaCSBA is giving five respondents a £100 John Lewis voucher!

Why the Self Build Survey is so important

We all know that data is king – but NaCSBA uses this data in its discussions with government as it works to create more opportunities for businesses and people wanting to self build. It has had phenomenal success to date – from the Right to Build legislation to the government-commissioned Bacon Review of Custom and Self Build, but needs your help to compile a more robust – and ongoing set of data.

This need for solid data was recently stressed in a recent report by Places for People and Cambridge University, the Economic Review of Self Build and Custom Housebuilding, and the survey is a first crucial step in meeting this need for facts and figures.

Please take the time to fill in the survey, and share with anyone you know that may have completed their own project in the last five years.

You can copy the link and email to your friends: 

With many homes completed or underway, Graven Hill has released the latest nine plots for self builders at Bicester based self and custom build development. More plots will be released as the year progresses.

As well as offering a route to market for anyone wishing to build but struggling to find plots, Graven Hill is firmly establishing itself as a vibrant community of like-minded residents from first-time buyers to retirees.

Interest in the new plots is high, with prices ranging from £235,000 to £265,000, with the largest able to cater for a 6-bedroom home. They are in a character area of the site called ‘Circular Railway’, which incorporates features of the existing historic railway and next to green spaces.

As with most custom and self builds at Graven Hill, each plot comes with its own unique ‘Plot Passport’ that sets out the parameters for what can be built on that plot. This includes, for example, the maximum number of bedrooms and gross internal areas and also the choice of pre-approved building materials.

Financial support in the form of the Government’s new Help to Build scheme is also available on these plots, allowing buyers to benefit from a 5% deposit, alongside a Government-backed equity loan.

Custom build options

A range of new custom build homes are also due to be launched soon, for those wanting personalisation, without having to don a hard hat.

With these homes, the earlier in the build process the homes are purchased, the more customisation options the buyers will have, including layout, fixtures and fittings. Those purchasing custom builds will also be able to take advantage of the Help to Build scheme.

Gemma Davis, customer experience director at Graven Hill said: “The UK housing market is undergoing huge change and we’ve seen a dramatic spike in interest in self-building. Unfortunately, in the past, plot availability, finances and planning permission have all acted as barriers, with only a small minority able to overcome them. However, we’re changing this with the housing options we provide at Graven Hill.

“Our self-build plots have always been popular, getting snapped up quickly, and that doesn’t look to be changing any time soon. Self-building results in a truly diverse community, which celebrates the uniqueness of its residents. This is in stark contrast to the cookie-cutter homes that have come to be associated with new build developments. The people who purchase our new plots will be adding their personality to Graven Hill, and we can’t wait to see the result.”

To find out more about the plots contact Graven Hill 

Roads and services have gone in in the innovative 12 home custom build Pound Lane site in Laindon, Essex, with plots available to buy now.

Located near to Basildon, the site is in a wooded setting, with links to Fenchurch St Station in London taking just 35 minutes, making it a fantastic choice for commuters. The homes come with private gardens and a communal garden, with an optional on-plot garage.

Buyers can choose the layout, size and fit out of their home, working to one of the three pre-designed home types, as specified in the planning permission. Each design is linked to one of the plots in the planning permission (see colour coding on plan below), so buying early ensures you have the widest choice of optoins. There are two house sizes on offer, and prices start from £445,000.

For example, Plot 6 with its S6 House design costs £235,000 for the 5,931 sqft plot, and the build price should be between £210,000 to £350,000 depending on your route and specification.

Buyers can choose two routes to ownership –

A la Carte Design – with this route you work with a Customer Coach to go through a series of choices based on a palette of materials and layouts, which are already costed out to make the process transparent when working with budgets.

DIY Design – this gives you far more freedom when it comes to designing the layout and specification, with only the position of the stairwells and utility risers being fixed. Buyers buy the weather-proof shell and can then take the house through to completion. The Customer Coach is available to support people through this process.

The project is unusual in that it is a collaboration between a team of companies, including architects, AOCMae and Pitman Tozer and custom build enabler Unboxed Homes and Dutch developer Steenvlinder.

Pound Lane plots

Unboxed are filming blogs as activity takes place at Pound Lane on YouTube, take a look here.


Unboxed Homes has recently completed a terrace of custom build homes in Peckham, London, Blenheim Grove, and is working on a group custom build scheme in London.

In a reflection of the buoyant market for custom and self build, Netherlands-based Steenvlinder has announced a major investment in the UK with three new sites. If they all go ahead, this could bring 150 plot opportunities to the market, centred around Ashford, Birmingham and Basildon.

NaCSBA member Steenvlinder is working with a range of partners to bring on the sites, including Czero and Unboxed Homes, and is in the process of recruiting for more staff for its UK operations.

Steenvlinder was set up by Hans Sparreboom and Marnix Norder in 2015 to create owner-commissioned custom build homes in the Netherlands, and it has delivered 2,000 homes since then, with more in the pipeline.

Netherlands has been a pioneer for initiatives to scale up the provision of self and custom build homes, which Richard Bacon MP saying in his review that, “Despite its size, the Netherlands has led the way in innovation in the housing sector, with the new town of Almere being an international model of what can be achieved at scale.”

Currently, Steenvlinder’s site at Pound Lane in Basildon – a collaboration with several architects – has 12 plots, available for purchase. The sites in Ashford is going through planning, with 105 plots potentially coming to the market, with the Birmingham site having scope for 30-50 plots – although the location has not yet been announced.

Why is the timing right for self build?

Owner commissioned homes are firmly on the government’s agenda, with the publication earlier this year of the Custom and Self Build Action Plan and Richard Bacon’s independent review to develop a plan for scaling up the sector, making it the perfect time for new and European companies to make the most of the positive environment.

Hans Sparreboom, Steenvlinder CEO, said: “With the English government supportive of the CSB methodology we need to spend less time asking how to build more houses and more about making ‘how to make houses’ more popular. We’re excited about helping the UK build back better with homes designed and built to last.”

The Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP, Minister of State for the Department for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), said: “It is encouraging to see further investment in the customer and self-build market in the UK. It has the potential to deliver thousands more homes each year as we bring forward the recommendations in the Bacon Review to scale-up the sector and introduce the Help to Build scheme which will make home building a realistic and affordable option to many more people.”

NaCSBA continues to work and support government as it considers the recommendations put forwards in the review.

The National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) has welcomed the publication of the Help to Build prospectus, and calls for members of the public to register to be among the first to take advantage of this pivotal scheme on opening for applications.

The link for registering is at the end of the prospectus, as it is important that people understand how the scheme works before registering to find out more information. Registering will ensure you are notified for when the scheme formally opens, and you can find out more on the government’s Own Your Own Home website.

Download the prospectus

Help to Build is the government’s new finance programme – an equity loan scheme designed to open up the custom and self build market to people with smaller deposits. 

The potential of the scheme is significant, making an owner-commissioned property a more affordable route to home ownership, for more people. This in turn will lead to more homes being built, contributing to government’s ambition to delivery 300,000 homes annually. The loan doesn’t just have to be for a self build, as other options, such as barn conversions, are covered. 

Help to Build logo

The loan is a first for anyone wanting to custom or self build, as the Help to Buy scheme, which this scheme is loosely based on, was not available on owner-commissioned homes. 

Where Help to Buy transferred the funds to the developer, Help to Build is focussed on the mortgage lender. This is because the self-builder is likely to engage with multiple parties – to buy the land, build the house and fit out the interior. The new scheme is expected to open up the market to more people wanting to build, especially those with smaller deposits.

About the fund

The prospectus sets out what would-be self and custom builders can expect from the scheme, such as the fact that lending is only through registered stakeholders, and the self build mortgage used to build the house will convert to a non-custom or self-build mortgage on completion of the build.

It also sets out the eligibility criteria for applying, for example:

  • You must have a have a minimum 5% deposit ,
  • loans can be between 5-20% of the total estimated cost (40% in London),
  • people can borrow up to £600,000 for the build and land, or up to £400,000 for build alone,
  • the loan will attract interest, payable from year 6,
  • the planned house must be your only home,
  • you must have outline planning permission to apply, and
  • payback amounts are calculated on the value of your home at the point of sale – so if the value rises so does the amount you owe on the loan.

NaCSBA hopes that the success of the scheme will help drive a step change in the sector encouraging more permissioned land to come forward and more businesses delivering the sites and homes that customers desire. In doing so it hopes it will create a virtuous cycle of activity as the sector works towards creating the 30,000 to 40,000 homes a year that the government would like to see the it provide.

 Help to Build could support this vision by helping several thousand people along the road to home ownership. 

Housing Minister Christopher Pincher MP said: “People across the country dream of building their own home and through our ground-breaking Help to Build scheme we are making it a realistic and affordable option.

“Help to Build will put them in charge of the house-building process and make sure they get the home they truly want.

“This scheme will also support small housebuilders and create thousands of local jobs – providing a huge boost the self and custom build sector and delivering much-needed new homes.”

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, NaCSBA CEO said: “Help to Build will mean that more people can have the new home they actually want including those with smaller deposits, sound plans and big hopes. The greater choice enabled by this scheme will lead to more affordable and better homes that are more wanted and more sustainable.

“Contrary to common perception, in most cases custom and self build is not about people undertaking the build themselves. Rather, it is about the homeowner having control over the design and specification of their project – enabling them to create the home they want, rather than the one someone else believes they would like. It means that new homes will now be part of the solution for the large numbers of people whose cultural, ecological, physical or emotional needs are not currently met by the new-build market.”

Karen Curtin, managing director at Graven Hill, the UK’s largest custom and self build development, said: “With self-building becoming more affordable, we hope that more people will feel able to purchase their own self-build plot. We’ve found them to be hugely popular, so it’s clear that there is a desire to self-build among the general population. People have simply not been given as much support as needed to explore this route until now.  

 “Accessibility has always been at the heart of Graven Hill, with purchasers benefitting from financial support such as Plot Passports, fast track planning, Golden Brick packages and custom home options, we aim to make the self-building process as simple as possible for homeowners. Now, there is even more opportunity for all homeowners to create a home that meets their requirements and lifestyle.  

“We will be releasing a number of new plots that will be eligible for this government funding in the near future. By taking a more innovative approach to house buying, we can make ‘settling’ a thing of the past.” 

Photos: Potton/Kingspan 

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, CEO of the National Custom and Self Build Association, recently joined Richard Bacon on a fact finding trip to Germany to visit a show park of self build homes.

The trip was an opportunity to see how such parks operate and engage with people wanting an owner-commissioned home, as the system was included in the Bacon Review, in connection to scaling up custom and self build. In the review, one of the recommendations was to raise awareness of self build and show by ‘doing’. 

This included the ask that government consider supporting the creation of a ‘Show Park’ of owner-commissioned homes. 

How do show parks work?

There is a prevailing myth around self build that it is a DIY route where people literally build it themselves, laying bricks in the evening after work in the dark. This is false, as it represents just a tiny fraction of what custom and self build actually represents.

In reality, nearly all of these homes are owner-commissioned, meaning that the ‘self builder’ identifies companies that they then contract to build their home. This might be on a self build basis, where they source their own land, architects, builders and so on right through to completion, or on a custom build model where they work with enablers or developers that have undertaken the initial tasks of creating plots with planning permission and service in place.

Effectively, these ‘oven ready’ plots can then be bought, and the owner can then commission the home to go on them. In some models the designs and companies might be linked to the plot, but in others buyers can commission who they like, as long as they build to the requirements set out in the plot passport.

And this is where a show park comes in. Many custom and self build homes are delivered by package manufacturers, where they build your home offsite in a factory, using one – or a tailored version – of one of their designs. This is then shipped to site and rebuilt, ready for second and first fix. Again, depending on what you agree and the company’s model, the house manufacturer may undertake this, or hand over the weathertight shell for you to contract trades to take the house to completion.


The Show Park idea would see a range of these manufacturers all building one house on the park, so buyers can visit and experience the homes, with staff or exhibits in each house that explain that companies approach and designs. As such, it becomes a marketing opportunity for a range of package manufactures, and empowers consumers – as effectively the park is a huge house shop.

Whether the idea of a show park goes ahead, the potential for custom and self build has never been greater, and government believes that it could deliver up to 40,000 extra homes a year.

Work has commenced on the infrastructure for the first 18 plots on a 50 home custom build site in the Lake District National Park. The site is being developed by custom build specialist Hugr Homes, which has joined up with timber frame manufacturer Fleming Homes to deliver the timber frame houses.

Wellbank is a unique development in the Lake District National Park in the village of Bootle, with an emphasis on eco-friendly and sustainable homes. Hugr Homes is acting as the enabler, having achieved planning permission, and is commencing with the infrastructure for the first phase of 18 homes. The houses will be provided by Fleming Homes, a manufacturer of bespoke, timber frame homes based in the Scottish Borders.

Wellbank Hugr Homes PLan

Wellbank, which is about one mile away from Bootle railway station and less than half an hour from Broughton in Furness, will be one of the largest custom build schemes in the UK, with 18 plots available in phase one.


Working with a timber frame manufacturer helps streamline the custom build site, as opposed to a self build solution where buyers are free to commission their own choice of company. Customers will work with Fleming Homes to design their home, working within the parameters of the Design Code, with a choice of plot types on offer for houses and bungalows.

Timber frame is a form of Modern Method of Construction (MMC) that is quick to erect on site, with the the average four-bed family home can reaching wind and watertight in a few weeks, which provides efficiencies when it comes to managing build schedules.

Joe Higginson MD and Founder of Hugr Homes, said, “We founded Hugr Homes to provide more opportunities for Custom Build, and it is all that we do as we firmly believe that the Custom Build model will grow.

“We are delighted to be starting on this site, which is located in the beautiful Lake District National Park. Both the site and the opportunity to custom build your own home is already generating interest, not just locally but also from the wider North West of England. We are also seeing lots of interest from people whose work is now more flexible, with working from home allowing them to relocate to more desirable areas of the country while still continuing in the same job.

“In terms of other sites, we have a site in Culgaith east of Penrith which will be custom build with 13 plots available. We are with Homes England for infrastructure funding on this and hope to be on site later this year.”

Sarah Mathieson, managing director of Fleming Homes, said: “We both align on the idea of helping more people live in higher quality homes. What Fleming Homes is keen to do is open-up the possibility of self and custom-building as a real option to more people to achieve more low-carbon, energy efficient, quality homes.

“It’s about giving more choice for homeowners to live their lives in homes that meet their aspirations for living and in homes that are ultimately fit for the future.”

Register your interest for the Wellbank site

Images: Artform Architects

Land promoter Leaper Land has submitted a planning application to Wokingham Borough Council for up to 33 Custom and Self-Build homes at Broadcommon Road, Hurst. Anyone wishing to self build locally can offer their support for the application on the planning section of Wokingham’s website, by searching application number 213378.

The scheme features 27 houses and six flats, including 14 affordable homes, set among two large recreational spaces available to the wider community, including a play area and a natural space with a wilder feel.

Leaper has submitted an outline application to establish the principles, to be followed by a reserved matters application if the scheme is approved. This will set out the parameters for the individual homes before development commences. Leaper would be responsible for delivering infrastructure, including roadways, footpaths and landscaping works, and installing utilities to create the serviced plots for custom or self-builders.

As a custom and self build development, the design of each new home would be controlled by a Design Code. This will give buyers the context in which they customise their own house design to their needs and tastes, subject to a menu of pre-approved architectural styles set out in the Design Code.

The community has already been engaged with, including with an online exhibition and a parish council meeting. These helped shape the application, resulting in the introduction of passing bays and new signage along Broadcommon Road; moving the vehicular access 6.4m to the east; redesigning the apartment block; and increasing and landscaping the area of land between the existing properties and the proposed plots.

Ben Marten, Director of Leaper, commented: “Wokingham has one of the greatest demands for Custom and Self-Build in the UK and there is a substantial shortfall in the provision of serviced plots in the Wokingham borough. The proposal at Hurst would go a long way to helping the Council meet their legal obligation to provide for this demand.”

If you have land that you think would be suitable for custom or self build, get in touch with Leaper Land.