NaCSBA member The Modern Builder is an online marketplace bringing together architects and house manufacturers who use Modern Methods of Construction (MMC).

As a new marketplace, The Modern Builder streamlines the process for self builders, giving them access to extensive expertise and intellectual property at the planning stage of a project. This helps them to make informed decisions, providing the architects with an opportunity to showcase their work while building links with the experienced MMC companies that can construct the houses.

Put simply, repurposing existing designs enables architects and MMC house builders to share designs and specifications for homes that have previously been built. Reusing these past projects makes good use of years’ of expertise, paving the way for greater efficiency and effectiveness in the construction process.

The existing designs can then be tailored for new sites, a strategy designed to simplify the self build process, reduce project risks and unlock new opportunities for builders of all backgrounds. This can result in greater manufacturing efficiency, reduced costs, and increased confidence in the self-build process.

The process lends itself to multi-plot projects, which often have greater design freedoms in comparison to a single self-build opportunity, and the emphasis is on the self-builder to do due diligence in terms of whether a design would be permissible for their site. Thanks to the Right to Build legislation, more and more multi-plot sites are emerging, evidence that the self build registers do have an impact. Find and sign your self build register here.

“Design repurposing has the potential to create a lean self-building structure by making proven designs accessible to a wider audience, empowering self-builders and offering a new route to market. But it goes beyond the mere recycling of old designs – it’s about extracting the valuable insights and lessons learned from previous projects and incorporating them into new designs.

“From feasibility assessments to planning acceptance, and cost analysis, architects can leverage their wealth of experience to streamline the self-build journey for their clients,” says Rhys-Evans Edet, Director and Co-founder of The Modern Builder.

Check out The Modern Builder’s gallery of designs.

Image: Storyboard Designs

NaCSBA member Beattie Passive is running a pair of free Passive Haus training events in October to support anyone considering adopting a passive methodology for their new build or retrofit project. One event is curated with self builders in mind and the other is designed to support professionals working in the sector.

Offsite modular specialist Beattie Passive, a member of the Passivhaus Trust, the Association for Environment Conscious Building (AECB) and the Good Homes Alliance, is holding the Passivhaus events at its offsite factory in Norwich.

The sessions offer attendees an insight into the principles of Passivhaus and how the standard can be applied to deliver energy efficient, net zero homes.

The sessions also include a guided tour of Beattie Passive’s 100,000 sq ft housebuilding factory.


Wednesday 11th October, 10am-12pm, Beattie Passive’s factory at Unit 1, Carrow Works, Norwich, NR1 2DD

This event has been specifically designed for self-builders that are interested in the energy and carbon-saving benefits of Passivhaus.

Attendance is free, but space is strictly limited, so register early to avoid disappointment.


Beattie Passive also has a second event for professionals interested in learning more about passive approaches to building:


17th of October, 10am-12pm, at Beattie Passive’s factory at Unit 1, Carrow Works, Norwich, NR1 2DD

This session is designed for local authorities, housing providers, policy makers, architects, builders, developers, and anyone else with an interest in building new net zero homes to Passivhaus standard (or retrofitting their existing housing stock to EnerPHit standard).


Ron Beattie, founder and managing director of Beattie Passive, said: “These events are part of our mission to promote sustainable building practices. Passivhaus has become synonymous with energy efficiency, and for good reason – a Passivhaus needs as little as 10% of the energy required by a conventional UK home – but we shouldn’t overlook the other benefits, such as thermal comfort, noise reduction and air quality.”

“Passivhaus is a panacea for many of the challenges facing the housebuilding sector – it can put an end to fuel poverty, raise living standards and eliminate damp and mould. At our net zero event, we’ll be paying particular attention to the environmental benefits of Passivhaus, and the role the standard plays in the delivery of net zero homes and retrofit projects.”

For the third consecutive year the National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC) is repeating its survey into your experiences around custom and self build.

The anonymous survey is a vital for compiling data on people’s experiences as there remains limited information on activity, and this is key for informing policy and practice moving forwards.

10 minutes of your time can help more people build, as it provides a picture of activity that allows the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) to evidence its recommendations to government and industry.

NSBRC Managing Director Harvey Fremlin  has recorded a message about the importance of the survey on YouTube.

A large majority of people planning a build have visited the NSBRC in person or attended an online event, and the survey will capture their experiences in the research and delivery of their home.

As a thank you for your time taking the survey, the NSBRC is offering a 10% discount on any of its essential educational courses (valid for 3 months) for every completed survey and the chance to enter a random draw to win one of five £50 John Lewis vouchers.

Take the survey


When sourcing suppliers for your custom and self build, getting the right knowledge about products and services is vital to empower you to make the right decision for your project. All NaCSBA members sign up to its Code of Practice, meaning there’s a level of trust you can relying on when it comes to specifying. We asked Ali Riza, Technical Manager at H+H, manufacturer of Celcon Blocks, about aircrete – one of the most popular building blocks for a variety of builds.

He shares ten reasons why aircrete could be the ideal product for your home, from on-site practicalities and thermal performance to the comfort and safety of your finished project.

“Masonry has been the go-to building method in the UK for decades,” says Ali. “Robust, resilient and high-performing, masonry homes are a fantastic option for self-builders.

“Aircrete is a lightweight masonry building material made from cement, lime, water and Pulverised Fuel Ash (PFA). It has long been a popular choice for its combination of strength, durability and thermal efficiency and the ease of use that comes with a lighter material.

“So, what benefits does aircrete bring self-builders and why should they choose it for their homes?”

1 Exceptional thermal performance

Should you choose to build your house with aircrete, you will get a solid house that meets every aspect of the building standards within the UK. Aircrete has excellent thermal insulation properties to help keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer, leading to lower energy bills and a more comfortable living space.

Celcon Blocks are also perfect to accompany energy saving technologies, like underfloor heating and air source heat pumps, that many self-builders are now factoring into their home’s design.

2 Achieve a quicker build

For self-builders, delays to construction can be particularly costly, so speeding up your build by using aircrete makes sense. A report by market research consultants, Emergen Research found that aircrete blocks help reduce construction time by about 20% versus other forms of dense masonry.

3 Enhanced acoustic comfort

Aircrete offers fantastic acoustic insulation, reducing the transfer of sound from room-to-room and helping block out unwanted noises that might come from outside a home.

4 Eliminate risk of damp, mould and pests

Unsightly and unhealthy, damp and mould are the last things you should see in a modern home. Aircrete is resistant to moisture and sulfates, and the effects of freeze/thaw cycles. It will not rot or warp and cannot be attacked by pests such as termites, insects, or vermin.

5 Better fire performance

Compared to market alternatives, aircrete offers superior fire resistance. Celcon Blocks provide excellent fire protection and are classified as A1, non-combustible in accordance with BS EN 771-4. H+H aircrete block walls built using our 100mm blocks offer up to four hours fire resistance.

6 Aircrete blocks are incredibly versatile

Unlike many other masonry blocks, Celcon Blocks can be cut on site with a hand saw. This makes it easy to achieve the detailing needed for elements like spandrels and gable ends. It also means site wastage can be kept to a minimum because special shapes and infill pieces can be easily cut.

7 Build to Passivhaus standards

Building walls with H+H aircrete can reduce heat loss in a home and achieve impressive airtightness. Aircrete walls can have extraordinarily low U-Values and are able to meet and even exceed Passivhaus requirements.

8 Celcon Blocks have multiple applications

Aircrete is an extremely versatile building material. It can provide cost effective solutions for wall, floor and below ground construction, including aircrete foundations.

In fact, Part L of the building regulations recommends using aircrete foundation blocks where aircrete is being used in the construction of external walls. This is to ensure continuity of insulation levels within the building fabric.

9 A sustainable solution

H+H aircrete is manufactured using Pulverised Fuel Ash (PFA), a by-product from coal-powered fire stations. Celcon Blocks are made from up to 80% of this recycled material, while waste aircrete generated from the manufacturing process is recycled as an aggregate back into the process.

10 Built to last

When you’re building your forever home, you want it to be built to last. H+H aircrete has a lifespan of over 100 years providing a resilient home for you and for generations to come.

For stockist of Celcon Blocks and to discover more about building with aircrete, visit

Member update

If you work in the custom and self build sector don’t miss NaCSBA’s first conference, on 1 November at the National Self Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon.

Themed around the idea of remaining resilient in the current market, the Custom and Self Build Conference marks Right to Build Day 2022, the date when the registers close on the 30 October for another complete base period of the local authority registers.

While numbers on the registers are growing, research shows that many people remain unaware that they can sign up to the registers, six years on from them commencing.

Find your local self build register

For these working in the industry, the conference is an essential opportunity to find out more about a range of factors impacting development, including many environmental changes.

Free for NaCSBA members, the conference brings together leading stakeholders from across the sector, such as custom build enablers and planners. Self Build Portal users can get 50% off, using the code PARTNERS (see below for instructions).


Running order to be confirmed, but sessions include:


*Speakers and subjects may change. Conference runs from 9:30-4:30


FREE – NaCSBA members (up to two tickets for Regular members and six tickets for Gold Partners).

£195+VAT for conference only

£295+VAT combined conference ticket and NaCSBA’s Custom and Self Build Market Report (PDF and hard copy while stocks last).

Anyone joining NaCSBA as a member during or in the week following the event will have the cost of their ticket repaid.

Register for a ticket

To access the 50% discount, use code PARTNERS to generate a halfprice ticket – simply click the link and then the TICKETS button on Eventbrite – then click ADD PROMO CODE (in blue) and APPLY to generate the discount.

If you are a NACSBA member contact Duncan on for your code to get a free ticket.

The National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC) is repeating its survey into the aspirations and expectations of people willing to build for 2022.

This is a vital piece of research as it feeds in to wider views on the sector, which in turn helps the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) to represent the sector’s hopes and ambitions in its discussions with government and high-level trade organisations. Hear from NSBRC Managing Director Harvey Fremlin about why the survey is so important.

Like the National Custom and Self Build Association, the NSBRC believes that people deserve better homes, with a visit to the NSBRC being an essential activity for anyone planning a project. As such, the NSBRC is also looking to compile data that reflect visitor’s experiences, to support the centre to improve its offering, from training to exhibitors.

The experiences of people hoping to build provides valuable insight into the aspirations and expectations of people interested in the model, identifying common problems people experience and trends, that are important to track, such as people’s attitudes to sustainability.

The survey takes just a few minutes, and any data you provide is completely anonymous. As a thank you, the NSBRC is offering a 10% discount on any of its essential educational courses (valid for 3 months) for every completed survey. In addition, respondees can enter into a random draw to win one of five £50 John Lewis vouchers!

The survey is now closed, but we will be sharing results shortly

Find out more about the NSBRC, whats on at the centre in Swindon and its training courses, and how they can help you with your dream project.

Responding to the need for a bespoke architect-designed home without the cost of commissioning from scratch, Lynn Palmer Architects has launched BluPrint, a suite of pre-designed homes that self builders can purchase.

BluPrint came into being when Director Lynn Palmer, identified a gap in the market between the package companies customisable homes and a one-off architect commissioned home. 

Not all price-sensitive self builders can afford to commission an architect from scratch, but still want to access the benefits that working with an architectural practice can deliver. 

Key to this is delivering homes that have sustainability at their heart from the design stage, and are able to meet the challenges of more energy-efficient homes in the future.

This led to the idea of BluPrint, a catalogue of three pre-designed homes – with more to come – that can be adapted to suit the buyer’s needs. 

The practice states that the advantages of this route is that it makes self build easier as much of the predesign work has taken place, meaning that the cost of this element is optimised. This is achieved as each design is costed as designed, rather than taking a bespoke approach, offering the equivalent savings that could be achieved when building at scale.

This can deliver up to 40% savings on professional fees, says the practice, which benefits the buyers, although the more the designs are amended the more the costs will increase to reflect this work.

Initial design work, pricing and planning are factored in to the plans to give buyers a starting point, and empowering them with the option to customise the design in the full knowledge of the cost implications that amendments will have. This supports informed decision making.

The homes are ideally suited to serviced plots sites, something NaCSBA is expecting to see more of, as increasing numbers of local authorities create policy that sets out to support custom and self build locally. Palmer expects the initial market to be buyers at Graven Hill, but the model is flexible and will work in a range of areas across the UK, as well as on single plots (planning allowing).

The designs of the three homes already created include a variety of modern approaches suitable to a range of budgets, in particularly the double gabled design, where the each wing can be pushed up or back to tailor the home to the buyer’s budgets and preferences.

One of the benefits of the route are that the designs can help speed up the process, by getting many of the elements needed for the planning submission ready in good time.
With all the designs the structural and energy calculations are pre-worked out, and this can put you six months further along on the process of preparing for your planning submission, states the practice.

BluPrint B2 cube home
The B2 Cube House design
BluPrint B2 home
The B2 Twin Gables design

Lynn Palmer Architects has teamed up with English Brothers to deliver the homes, both trusted NaCSBA members, and this partnership is another reason why the cost savings can be secured. What’s more, the homes are designed with as many costs factored in as possible, in advance, to empower people about the reality behind their build.
In addition, the homes are designed with sustainability at their heart, creating homes that not only look beautiful but are fit for the future.

What the package includes:

  • Architectural design planning package
  • Architectural Building Regulation package
  • Timber frame design and structural details
  • Whole house energy solution, including UFH layouts, MVHR design, air source design and specification
  • SAP calculations and energy report
  • Quantity surveyor cost plan

“We’re really excited to have launched these homes, as BluPrint represents a genuine saving for consumers, with the designs providing a flexible alternative to the bespoke route, that encapsulates many of the costs, and the implications of design changes. This will empower people, helping them with the process of creating their ideal home, while balancing the realities of their budget with their ambition.

“Our designs offers self builders a new route to building, while the reputation of English Brothers meaning that buyers can trust the process from start to finish.”

Have a look at the catalogue here

Prices vary depending on plot location and topography, but construction start from £505,500 for the B1 Linear House design, shown at the top. This includes an allowance for everything from foundations to kitchens.

Find the right NaCSBA member for your project

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

Specialist self and custom build mortgage broker Buildstore Mortgage Services has shared with the Self Build Portal the fact that lending for the sector is in great shape currently, with a wide selection of products available.

For anyone looking to build their own home, the first thing people want to find out is how much they can realistically borrow. According to Buildstore Mortgage Services, the average value of a completed self build property it arranged finance for last year was just over £600,000, with the typical client borrowing around half of the final value of the home. 

For those whose aspirations are a little higher, BuildStore confirms that interest at the higher end of the self build market is continuing to grow and mortgage lenders are keen to tap into this demand.

Chris Martin, Head of Product Development and Underwriting at BuildStore, commented: “We are seeing more potential self builders looking for mortgages over £1 million to help them build their exciting forever home. We work very closely with lenders to develop products that reflect changing market needs and we have a number of mortgage deals available for larger loans.

Benefits of self building

At NaCSBA we know that building your own home has many benefits – with self builders securing a  home where they want to live, in a property designed by them to meet their own specific needs and circumstances. But BuildStore confirms that self builders are also likely to build their new home significantly cheaper than buying a comparable home from a developer.

It also knows that financing a home to build to an individual specification is different to buying an established or new-build property, but there is plenty of help and guidance out there if you know where to look.

“Every self-build client and project is different and lenders are also becoming more flexible with who they will lend to – including how they look at the self-employed and contractors and how they view different construction types,” says Martin.

“Many self builders want to benefit from the shorter build times and better environmental credentials of modern methods of construction and there are many mortgage products available for this type of project.

“Self build is a growing area of the housing market and as it scales up we expect more lenders to enter the market and more options to open up for aspiring home builders – whether they want to borrow £300,000 or £1 million or more.”

For more about finance for your project visit our How to Build section 

This is a NaCSBA member update.

Heating and ventilation specialist Zehnder brings you its take on how to ensure your Self-Build project is sustainable, ensuring it provides the optimum comfortable climate for you.

Self-Building your own home offers you the opportunity to factor in a range of measures that you wouldn’t find in a typical open market home. Top of the bill for many Self-Builders is the ability to spec elements that make your home more sustainable, making it greener, more comfortable and cheaper to run.

There’s a trade-off here between cost and outcome, but Self-Builders tend to stay in their homes longer than most, and also invest more in them. What’s more, Self-Builders, as NaCSBA acknowledges, are innovators in greener building, championing new materials and micro-renewables to ensure they get the home they want. As such, they are the green heroes of UK housing.

Self-Building requires careful budgeting, but money spent on sustainability is typically money well spent. The Passivhaus Trust states that Passive /house builds can be achieved on a range of budgets that can bring a 90% reduction in the energy needed for heating requirements, which means savings from year one.

So if you want a greener home where to you get started?

Zehnder specialises in heating and ventilation solutions that can help you achieve your goal. Jason Bennett, National Business Development Manager for Self-Build at Zehnder explains a bit more: “Building regulations and legislation set out sustainability standards that must be met, but these are minimum standards that many self-builders use as a starting point.

“Passive House advocates would argue that energy usage is as equally important as the focus on carbon emissions, giving a more rounded approach, that’s a helpful way to look at the bigger picture.”

Zehnder has put together fives steps for Self-Builders to consider when planning to build greener.

1. Fabric-first

Think about what you will use to build your home. Timber remains an extremely environmentally friendly building material, as long as it is sustainably sourced. In contrast, the production process for cement is extremely carbon intensive, which should be weighed up in terms of sustainability.
Even when used as a form of biomass, timber should result in very little net carbon emissions as long as replanting replaces lost trees.

2. Heat Recovery

The Renewable Energy Hub states that a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system (MVHR) can save up to a whopping 50% on energy bills in a home. This will vary significantly depending on the building itself, meaning that time spent at planning a whole house approach is always time well spent.
For optimum results, MVHR is best suited to an airtight and highly-insulated building, designed from the outset to utilise an MVHR system.

MVHR unit

These work by removing stale air from the house, which is replaced with filtered fresh air. But the clever bit is that the heat is extracted from the stale air, and retained to warm the incoming air to minimise heat loss. This ensures a constant supply of warmed fresh air, with the internal temperature remaining comfortable and stable. Although you can open windows and doors in such homes, the system is designed to be used within the house as a sealed unit with the MVHR doing the hard work, while opening doors and windows less frequently can help minimise noise and air pollution too.

Highly efficient MVHR units, such as Zehnder’s ComfoAir Q range, can recover up to 96% of the heat from extracted air that would have otherwise been exhausted outside. This reduces heating bills, which keeps costs down for the homeowner.

What’s more, MVHR systems are great for keeping allergies at bay, as they extract excess moisture, pollutants and pollen from the air.

3. Insulation

Passive House builds are based on the principle that insulation is vital for a building’s performance, keeping heating requirements to a minimum.

Insulation comes in a range of materials, including environmentally responsible products, such as sheep wool. The U-values wool can achieve compare favourably to those of rigid board insulation or fibreglass, which have a far more carbon-intensive production process.

4. Heating

Designing your home from scratch means you can make the most solar capacity. And when combined with air-tight, insulated construction, solar energy can be used to run an efficient electric heating system, such as an air or heat pump.

Heat pumps can also run on electricity generated from solar power, making them 100% renewable.
While more space intensive, ground source heat pumps use the stable ground temperature as their heat source, making them even more efficient than air-based pumps. These need careful planning from the start of a project, and installation costs are higher, so it’s a decision each Self-Builder must make as part of the wider picture.

In rural areas where space is less of an issue – and especially if you’re off-grid, biomass can also be a good eco-source of heat. Systems can be expensive to install, so check with manufacturers the time period by which the installation costs will start to be paid back by savings.
Finally, for hot water, solar thermal remains a highly sustainable way to heat your hot water.

5. Rainwater harvesting

Water is a relatively cheap utility in the UK, especially in comparison to heating, but the costs to the environment remain high due to the carbon emissions and energy used to produce and supply it.
A rainwater harvesting system is simple to plan into a self-build early on, ensuring you capture free water that can be used for a range of uses, such as flushing toilets, watering the garden and cleaning the car.
Again, it needs to factored in early as the containers are large, and will need major plant to install, which you will inevitably have on site at some point.

For more information visit Zehnder 

This is an update from a NACSBA member.