Nothing more needs to be said about the devastating effects of Coronavirus for 2020, but self builders and suppliers are a resourceful, and resilient bunch. For some the changes are dramatic, and the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) wishes the very best to anyone or any business personally affected by the situation.

With regards to shows and industry events, many have been postponed due to safety concerns around the virus, so we’ve provided a run-down of the affected shows to help you, see below.

Enforced time in

If you are stuck indoors with an unexpected amount of time on your hands why not make the most of it and research in depth into a custom or self build project. NaCSBA knows that those people that research the most end up making the best, and most cost effective decisions. So use your enforced time in to plan something to look forward to, for when things return back to a bit of normality.

Take a look around the Self Build Portal’s Get Support section for help and advice around the entire process of self building, or have a look in some case studies for inspiration.

Don’t forget, the homes magazines all have brilliant websites packed with help and advice, such as Homebuilding & Renovating, Build It, Self Build & Design and Grand Designs. Or if you prefer to sit with something physical, why not get a magazine subscription – Self Build Portal users can access great subs offers if they register!

Currently, many newsagents, such as WH Smiths, are closed, meaning that getting single copies of a magazine may be more difficult to do. But Self Build & Design have come up with a brilliant solution – offering its current issue for free as a digital product on its website for the duration of the isolation period. Fantastic to see self builders still coming up with great alternative ideas!

And if you fancy some inspirational from a wider selection of have a look around LoveProperty or Dezeen for some exciting design ideas, as well as find many self build companies on instagram: Homebuilding & Renovating, Build It, Self Build & Design and Grand Designs

While you’re looking why not set up a pinterest account and create your own online mood board of things you love. Lot’s of amazing designers, self build companies and regular people have great accounts that you can use to give you inspiration, and you can create a virtual mood board of looks and likes for your own project.

If you are after specific advice, the National Self Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon has now closed for visits, but instead has set up a virtual enquiry service. All you need to do is fill in an online form which has the different categories of exhibitors, which you can select to receive information from them.

New dates for shows

The National Self Build & Renovation Show at the NSBRC, Swindon, is now 25-26 July, as opposed to 16-17 May. Read more.

Homebuilding & Renovating Show, NEC, Birmingham – now 9-13 July instead of 26-29 March. New tickets will be emailed out – visit the FAQs page for more.

National Custom and Self Build Week – is now 24-28 August 2020, instead of 4-8 May

Grand Designs Live, Excel – now 22-31 August 2020, instead of 2-10 May. Existing ticket holders can use their tickets at the London event in August, or transferred to Grand Designs Live, NEC, in Birmingham on 7-11 October. Find out more.

Build It Live, Bicester – now 19-20 September instead of 6-7 June. Tickets from the earlier dates are valid for the new dates. Find out more here.

In addition:
‘Passivhaus Workshop’ at the NSBRC, Swindon is now on the 15-16 May, instead ofthe 3-4 April



Stay safe, and keep planning!


Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

Not to be beaten by Coronavirus, the National Custom and Self Build Week has moved from its traditional May date to coincide with the rescheduled Grand Designs Live with the week running between the 24-28 August, while Grand Designs Live runs from 22-31 August at London’s Excel.

Following the success of last year, NaCSBA will be on site at the show throughout the week taking part in the Self Build Clinic, as well as joining Grand Designers on the Grand Theatre stage as they discuss their projects. So if you’ve a question about your project or simply want to know how to get started, come along to the Ask the Experts area of the show and come say hi.

TIP – the Ask the Experts area gets booked up quickly, so head there first to book a time slot, then return when you’ve had a chance to look around the show.

National Custom and Self Build Week 2020 is focussing on helping people get started on their journey to creating their own home. This could be a self build where they commission everything themselves, as well as finding the plot, or custom build, where they buy a plot with planning in place. Whichever route suits your needs, the first step is always to sign up to your local Right to Build register via the Right to Build Portal. This is crucial, as it helps councils assess local demand, which they consider when fulfilling their wider housing and planning duties.

This year Grand Designs boasts a range of new exhibitors and features, as well as all popular favourites, with design guru and TV broadcaster, Kevin McCloud leading the event. From renovation, building a new home, redecorating a room, installing a new kitchen or simply looking for ideas, Grand Designs Live offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the world of interiors, design and self‐build. Covering Build, Kitchens, Bathrooms, Gardens and Interiors the show will offer access to amazing brands launching new products, talks live from industry experts and homewares not yet available on the high street.

Self Build Portal users can get free tickets for the show using the code NACSBA, either for the weekend dates or the week dates when the Self Build Clinic is on.

Get your Grand Designs Live Tickets 

Existing ticket holders for the May show can find out how to use their tickets at the August show here.



Calderdale Council is selling several small sites for custom and self build, which offer potential for an enabling or custom build company to purchase, or a group of self builders to collectively buy. Three plots are on the market currently, until April 6th, and a fourth site is expected to be marketed shortly.

To make the process as easy as possible the sites have outline planning permission for homes, with suggested layouts available.

Building collectively as a group of self builders can offer economies of scale if planned well, and homeowners move in with a sense of community already in place, created through the process of building.

Brewery Street, Todmorden

This 0.19 hectare site has outline planning permission for 4 dwellings, with a guide price of £125,000, on the site of a car park and vacant land.

Bank Street, Brighouse

A 0.13 hectare piece of land with outline planning permission for 5 dwellings, which is on gently sloping vacant land. The guide price is £225,000.

Belmont Street, Sowerby Bridge

Set on a former garages site, this 0.06 hectare site has outline planning permission for 3 dwellings.

The plots are being marketed by Walker Singleton.


If you are looking for land it’s worth checking whether you local authority is bringing land to market, as many do. For example, Plymouth City Council has a range of sites on its own land that it is marketing, with some suitable for Self Builders or small groups, although it doesn’t necessarily market them as such. Visit its Residential and Housing Development Land section for more.

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.


Architectural practice Studio Bark will be bringing its innovative U-Build system to London as part of Grand Designs Live. The simple construction system has been designed to make building accessible to anyone with limited skills, but who wants to take an active role in their build.

The system was selected for one of the original Graven Hill pioneer builds, where it was tested as a whole house system on Box House.

You can follow the story of Chris and Roxie and Box House on Grand Designs: The Street on 25 April.

The Custom and Self Build sector frequently innovates in terms of design and construction, and Studio Bark’s U-Build system is very much in this vein, offering a refreshingly simple build system that anyone can learn how to use.

“We’re focusing on creating a high-tech but human scale system, for people who are interested in physically putting in the labour on a build, but may lack the technical skills to build in traditional construction methods,” says Nick Newman, Director.

The striking Box House, one of the 10 pioneer homes at Graven Hill

The striking Box House, one of the 10 pioneer homes at Graven Hill

The system hinges around a simple box made of plywood that comes flat packed, with the self builders assembling the 300mm deep casettes, then using them to construct as building blocks to fabricate the house. The boxes only need a mallet and drill, and lots of people power. The CNC (Computer controlled cutting) components are built on site, bolted together and then sheathed in a waterproof membrane, and the boxes can be used to create walls, floors, roof components and interior fittings.

Sustainable build system

It’s a flexible system that can be used to construct a range of designs, that offers a build system that’s sustainable. By default, wood locks in the carbon the trees absorbed while growing, while pre-cut sheep’s wool insulation is combined with low-VOC and formaldehyde free glues and treatments. The system also generates minimal waste onsite, and at the end of the building’s life the boxes can be deconstructed and used again.

Studio Bark has recently launched the U-Build website with a configurator for simple pods and rooms that allows you to design and cost your own simple jobs like garden offices, while the studio’s architects can design whole house or extension U-Build projects. Currently it can build up to 2.5 storeys, use plywood, birch or OSB, with excellent airtightness and the system has passed a full-scale load test.

As well as an innovative build system, U-Build would be a fantastic construction method for community-led housing groups wanting to do as much work as possible on their self-build in order to maximise affordability. The simplicity of the build route makes it accessible to anyone, regardless of their ability or prior knowledge of building. “We’re trying to reimagine the role as architects, we envision ourselves more as facilitators – training and supporting, making this scalable architecture,” says Newman.

The boxes create the structure of the building

The boxes create the structure of the building

The U-Build boxes can be used to create finished interior walls

The U-Build boxes can be used to create finished interior walls

Pre-cut battens of sheep's wool insulates the boxes

Pre-cut battens of sheep’s wool make insulating the structure simple

A waterproof membrane and cladding complete the exterior

A waterproof membrane and cladding complete the exterior

In Box House the system is a core element in the interior design

In Box House the system is a core element in the interior design

U-Build boxes create storage in the house

U-Build boxes create storage in the house

The iconic Periscope House

Periscope House

Grand Design: The Street is not the first time Studio Bark has been involved with the show, as it built Periscope House, which featured in Season 14, Episode 6.

Come and see Studio Bark and a team of students building with U-Build at Grand Designs Live, which is part of National Custom and Self Build Week.

Get your free tickets here!

Self-building is too difficult

Building your own home doesn’t mean you do the build work yourself, as most people get involved with the design and construction by commissioning a range of companies to do the work on your behalf. You have can build what you want and choose how it is constructed, and if you choose a package company then they build the house for you, constructing it offsite in a factory before erecting it on site.

There are no plots available

Finding the perfect plot can be challenging, especially if your heart is set on a plot in the middle of the Greenbelt! Plot-finding websites are a great source, and local planning authorities must ensure that there are sufficient self-build plots available to meet the demand on their Self-build Register. Signing up to your register helps ensure a supply of land is available – visit

I won’t get planning permission

The UK planning system makes provision for Custom and Self Building, but you must follow regulations and guidance. Modern self-build developments offering serviced plots on multi-plot sites offer reassurances that, as long as the rules for the plot are satisfied, planning permission will be granted. Some sites, such as Graven Hill use a Plot Passport to say what sort of thing can be built on each plot.

Self-building is costly

It is possible to stay on a budget if you get the right advice and spend time forward planning. The construction method you choose, the size of your project and how involved you are in the process all affect the budget, and can help limit the cost of building. Remember, you get to choose what and how you build, and research shows most self-builders end up with a home that has cost less than a comparable home bought on the open market.

I won’t get a mortgage

Finance used to be an issue, but these days self-build mortgages are available from several lenders. To get advice on the funding options available to you speak to a qualified financial adviser or mortgage broker. You’ll need to show a projection of costs and planning-permission before they’ll grant you the funds.

It’s not for people like me

In some countries in Europe over 50% of all houses are self-built, while in the UK this is less than 10%. However, those that do self build come from all income brackets, life-stages and levels of build experience. Anyone can do it, and NaCSBA is working to make it a mainstream choice for more people.

It takes too long to build

How long it takes to build depends on what, and how, you want to build, but it can take as little as two years from finding a plot to the completion of a project. Finding a single plot and choosing a truly bespoke design will naturally take longer than buying a serviced plot and custom building with a package company that delivers and erects your factory-built house.

There is no support

The Self-Build Registers are evidence that the UK Government and local authorities are willing to support the self-build industry. Plus there’s activity in Scotland and Wales around the sector, too. On a personal level there’s help in that you can reclaim the VAT on a self build and you’re exempt from the Community Infrastructure Charge. Both have strict processes for this with firm deadlines.

For more information about National Custom and Self Build Week:


To find out what’s on over the week click here. 

Download the flyer!

Click here for a PDF of Busting the Myths Around Self Building

In association with

Image: Potton home, courtesy of Steve Hughes Photography

Save the date for National Custom and Self Build Week 2019, running between the 6-12 May this year. NaCSBA is organising a series of events around the week to celebrate the best of custom and self build and showcase some of the companies and projects that can support and inspire you with your own dream project.

National Custom and Self Build Week is the perfect opportunity to share the message that the first step for anyone considering a tailored home is to sign up to their local Right to Build registers, via the Right to Build Portal and join the 40,000 people that have signed up to show their councils that they want the chance to self build!

A core element of the week is the five-day event running as part of Grand Design’s Live, where each weekday a NaCSBA specialist will be on the main stage sharing tips and advice about self building, with a special focus on Busting the Myths that Self Build is Challenging!

Each day there will also be the chance to ask your self build questions to a NaCSBA representative in the Ask the Experts area of the show, getting tailored support for your dream home project.

As we get closer to the week we’ll be sharing more information about the week’s events, but for now pop the week into your diary!