The National Custom and Self Build Association has published a new report for professionals working in the sector, with a range of comprehensive data – make sure any developer, landowner or local authority knows about it!
The Custom and Self Build Market Report looked at several areas, with surveys on people’s aspirations about building – both those interested in the route and members of the wider public, but also examined the experiences of those that had completed a project.
This last cohort revealed that 50% of people had incorporated a sustainable heat source in their home, and over half had used Modern Methods of Construction (MMC).
In a climate that places such value on sustainability and MMC, this marks self builders out as ahead of the curve in the way we build in the UK. This sets an example of how, when given choice, people will invest in their own home above and beyond what a speculative builder would, when building a new home for an open market sale.
The report also contains industry insight on a range of topics, and an overview of the political landscape and initiatives designed to boost custom and self build activity.
These self and custom builders are an important part of the new homes market too, as the report highlights this missing market in our new homes delivery (also identified in the Bacon Review in 2021). In fact, 94% of prospective self-builders saying they would not buy a speculatively built new home.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main obstacle for most self builders remained finding their plot, which has traditionally been the hardest part of self building.
This is a pity, as despite the Right to Build legislation and the National Planning Policy Framework’s requirement for Local Plans to bring forward at least 10% of their housing requirement on small sites (Par. 69), land for custom and self building remains in limited supply. This is in spite of over a third of the general public saying they would be interested in an owner-commissioned home at some point in their life.
Despite planning reforms being on the horizon, the second most significant barrier to people building remained the planning system.
On a more positive note, over 90% of those who had built said they would recommend self building to a friend or colleague, saying it was a positive aspect of their lives.
Set out over 100 pages, the Custom and Self Build Market Report is a valuable and much needed overview on the sector that adds further insight data and analysis to support the findings of the 2021 Independent Review into Scaling up Self-build and Custom Housebuilding by Richard Bacon. It costs £295 + P&P, and is available from NaCSBA.
Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, NaCSBA CEO said: “This first ever NaCSBA annual Custom and Self Build Market Report is essential reading for all those keen to access quality insight, analysis and data on the sector and on the views and aspirations of past and current self-builders, as well as those thinking of the route. It is a stark reminder of what the new homes market could and should be about – quality, sustainability, community and value.
“NaCSBA welcomes the confirmation of past and future custom and self builders commitment to MMC and sustainability. We await the government’s response to the Bacon Review’s recommendations, and the upcoming opening of Help to Build to customer applications. These, together with the promised changes to improve the Right to Build legislation, make this an important time for sector.”
Speaking at the House of Commons reception to launch the report, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said, “If we move all of the incentives in the right way; if you have a plan-led system that is responsive to the need to ensure that there are smaller plots, which are suitable and made available for custom and self builders; if we look at how we can support those with the initiative and the wherewithal to back Modern Methods of Construction; if we have building societies, like Ecology, that are explicitly prepared to lend to individuals, who are making sure that homes are in keeping, not just with high aesthetics, but also high environmental standards; if we create circumstances in every part of the landscape that incentivise self and custom build, then we can transform the housing market, and transform it for good.”
Following its 2019 first visit to Graven Hill, Grand Designs is once more sharing the self build adventures of some of those people building at the UK’s largest self-build and custom-build site, starting on Wednesday 13 April at 9.00pm.
This second series of Channel 4’s Grand Designs: The Streets (available on catch up) sees presenter Kevin McCloud tracking the builds of a cross section of residents as they work to create their very own, tailor-made homes at the site at Graven Hill, as well as other multi-plot sites elsewhere in the country.
Series two differs in format slightly from the first series, which tracked the first ten pioneer residents who broke ground at Graven Hill. This series aims to capture the spirit of community of those building on the self-build streets, and represents a real opportunity for the custom and self build sector to sell this model to the public.
Graven Hill is the brainchild of Cherwell District Council, which took on a former Ministry of Defence site in Bicester to create a 188-hectare development with a range of opportunities to give people more choice in the type of home they want to live in.
Grand Designs: The Streets showcases the opportunities at Graven Hill, where residents from a range of background create their ideal home, whether that be sleek angular constructions or modern interpretations of classic house types.
Kevin McCloud, presenter of Grand Designs: The Streets, said: “Building your own home takes imagination and endeavour, as well as boundless perseverance. Here at Graven Hill, ambition and creativity has resulted in these wondrous homes enjoyed by all who live in them.”
Karen Curtin, managing director of Graven Hill said: “We are so excited to welcome Kevin and Channel 4 back to Graven Hill. Grand Designs: The Streets is the perfect opportunity to show just how far the development has come since the initial experiment with the ten pioneer plots.
“In the first series, we were lucky enough to celebrate a milestone for the UK house building industry by promoting self-build at scale, and this time we are able to showcase more self-build journeys and the development at 400 occupations.
“We have learned a lot over the last few years, diversified our product range and are proud of the community that has evolved. The show provides a platform for us to show exactly what is possible at Graven Hill and highlight that people from all walks of life can build or create the house of their dreams.”
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
Any self builder responsible for their site will be interested to read the latest findings from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to ensure workers and visitors to their site are safe.
The report found that fatal injuries to UK construction workers have risen 8.3% since 2016/17, with half of these fatalities due to falls from heights.
With such a high-risk factor, it is essential that any self builder – or contractor, carefully plan any work at height, ensures relevant training has been undertaken and that the right equipment is used and procedures followed.
Many self builders like to help on site even if they are not working there in the day – and jobs like fixing gutters and painting can all involve working at height risks.
In Great Britain construction is framed in law by the The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, a comprehensive suite of legislation embracing health and safety, and the risk assessments that mitigate risks. And even in line with this, the number of fatalities and accidents is still increasing.
Herts Tool Hire reviewed the data from the HSE (and produced the above infographic), looking at the impact of non-fatal construction accidents on construction industries. Read its analysis here.
It reported that injuries and ill health cost £16.2 billion in 2018/19 – with 20% borne by employers, 22% by government and the remaining nearly 59% end up being a cost to the individuals themselves. This could be because of the high-number of sub contractors and self employed in the construction sector.
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!
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: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NaCSBA2022
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.
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.
Scotland-based Allan Corfield Architects is expanding its national coverage with a permanent presence at the National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC) in Swindon, and the launch of its first seminar for self builders wanting to develop their skills.
Architect Jenny Chandela has joined ACA, working out of its brand new NSBRC stand three days a week, and is able to answer questions or chat to you about your project. Alternatively, if you cannot get to Swindon ACA also offers a free initial online consultation.
In line with ACA’s ethos of supporting self builders, as seen in its online Learning Centre, it has launched its first self build seminar at the NSBRC, How to Self-build Successfully*.
The one day event runs from 8:30 – 4:30, and is repeated on the Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 October, and costs £80 per person, and is designed to educate novice builders all the key elements of the self build journey.
Topics covered include:
Speakers at the event:
Allan Corfield, AC Architects, Self Build and Low Energy Expert
Tom McSherry, BuildStore, Finance Expert
Brian Singleton, ADM Systems, MVHR Expert
David Gallagher, AC Structures, Structural Engineer
James Bryden, CLPM, Project Management and QS
David Hilton, Heat & Energy, Renewable Heating Expert
* The How to Self-build Successfully seminar is not suitable if you are already working with an architect.
Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, has published his Review of Custom and Self Build, which identifies a ‘missing market’ of owner commissioned homes, that could deliver between 30,000 to 40,000 self build homes a year.
The report was commissioned by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in April, as part of the Custom and Self Build Action Plan to look at the ways in which custom and self build could help provide the extra homes that government needs to help it reach its target or building 300,000 homes a year.
Richard Bacon was tasked with looking at the entire sector, including examples of how owner commissioned homes are built abroad in countries where the model is common.
One such example is Germany, where 55% of new homes are commissioned by their owners, with large show parks dotted across the country where you can go and experience houses built and designed by a range of companies (have a look at Musterhaus for a German example).
The result is a comprehensive overview of the sector, together with the barriers to growth. The report is respectable 114 pages and includes new economic analysis by Chamberlain Walker that identifies the sector as a ‘missing market’ in the UK.
This is due to a combination of reasons, such as planning and the dominance of the mainstream housebuilders, but is largely attributed to the lack of land available to build self or custom build homes on.
To remedy the findings, Bacon puts forwards six strong recommendations for creating a new system that would support activity.
Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “As we build back better, we want to help more people build their own home, making it an option for thousands who’ve not considered it or ruled it out before. This will help get more people on to the housing ladder, ensure homes suit people’s needs whilst providing an important boost to small builders and businesses too.
“I warmly welcome Richard Bacon’s report which matches our ambitions for the custom and self-build sector. We will consider it fully and respond to the recommendations in due course.
“The launch of the Help to Build equity loan scheme will be a game-changer to the self and custom build market and will allow individuals to borrow with lower deposit mortgages which will go towards the design and build of their new home.”
Mr Bacon said: “At no other time in our history would new housing be thought of as a form of pollution, creating a monoculture to be resisted from villages to towns. The central problem is that most customers have almost no clout when it comes to buying a home.
“There is a “missing market”. Instead of customers who are able to choose for themselves what they actually want, which of course will vary hugely – just as people vary hugely in their tastes, preferences and lifestyle choices – in practice most customers have very little say. Indeed, for the very item on which customers spend the largest proportion of their incomes – their homes – they hold the least consumer power.”
“Those who have managed to step outside this prevailing framework and commission or build their own dwelling see a result that is to their own taste – greener, better built and more welcomed by local communities. And while thousands of people have succeeded in doing this – often with the help of NaCSBA members – it is still difficult to do, whereas it needs to become normal. Indeed, it should be no more difficult than ordering a new car.”
“There is a solution. It involves creating the conditions in which customers are treated as if they matter the most, rather than – for the most part – scarcely mattering at all. And this is what happens when people themselves commission the houses they would like to see. Homes England, whose remit includes making markets, has a key role to play in kickstarting this market including providing land and investment and helping to streamline planning – and my core recommendation is that a Custom & Self-Build Delivery Unit should be established with a mandate to deliver the required changes, staffed by skilled professionals with deep experience of delivering custom and self-build projects for customers across all tenures.”
Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, NaCSBA CEO said: “There is clearly something wrong with any market where customer choice is so notably absent, in particularly where such choice so demonstrably leads to better and greener homes. At the heart of the challenge is a planning system that appears hard wired to produce a product that most of us do not want, and which fails to reflect the diversity of our communities.
“Yet there is a proven viable solution. One that works everywhere else in the world, the question is not whether change is needed but how that change happens. To make that change we must ensure that sufficient land comes forward on which people can chose the home they want to live in. We must also open the eyes of the public to the possibilities that are out there. Both these aspects require the leadership of Government to address the failures in our current market.
“The recommendations in this report, which include the review of the Right to Build and the rapid launch of Help to Build have the capacity to positively transform our country’s relationship with the new homes market.
The Self and Custom Build Action Plan includes:
A new survey by the National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC) reflects a series of data about people’s real, or planned, projects, including averages, such as age, household income and budget. This helps give a realistic picture of people building or renovating a home right now, showing what motivates them and what barriers they face. NaCSBA’s most recent surveys have asked questions of the general public, reflecting people’s aspirations rather than the realities of those actually involved in a build.
Conducted in partnership with NaCSBA in June 2021, this new survey asked questions of NSBRC customers, and of the 681 people that responded, 73% were building a brand new home.
The survey fed into Richard Bacon’s Review of Custom and Self Build, a detailed report commissioned by Boris Johsno examining the opportunities and barriers to the sector scaling up. The review, which also puts six recommendations for government to consider is due to be published shortly.
A new biography has been published sharing the work and vision of Walter Segal, a leading figure in self build in the 1970s when he created several projects, including a whole estate of self build homes, in London. Walter Segal: Self Built Architect
In the book, author and friend of Walter, John McKean tells the story of Segal’s life (1907–85) life, covering his youth and early architectural career in Berlin, before exploring his unique approach to architectural practice – and, specifically, to everyday housing. The book takes in Segal’s work in Switzerland, Mallorca and Egypt, before reviewing his post-war building career in England and the philosophy that drove his work. This included a commitment to self building, which led to him creating a self build community in Lewisham, London (above and below). This has now become a reference point in every historical review of self build in the UK.
Overtime Segal became interested in coming up with the best dwellings for 20th-century towns and his concern for the empowerment of ordinary citizens – and crucially this involved giving them the ability to build their own homes.
Alice Grahame follows with an exploration of the enduring impact of Segal’s timberframing method, looking at how this has led to the possibility of making, and then living within, communities where houses are constructed with a flexible, easily assembled and planet-friendly building system
A Professor of Architecture at the University of Brighton for 11 years, John McKean wrote the first monograph on his friend Walter Segal over 30 years ago.
Alice Grahame has written about Walter Segal in The Guardian and architecture and design magazines. She curated an exhibition about Segal – Walters Way: the Self-build Revolution at the Architectural Association Gallery in London.