The National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC) in Swindon has launched a new event called Market Day, where many of its exhibitors will be encouraged to be on stand to chat to self builders in a relaxed and informal setting.

Kicking off on Friday 8 March, 10am-3pm, the Market Days will be on the second Friday of each month. The event is being organised following requests from visitors, to give people the chance to discuss projects in detail away from the busyness of the traditional show days.

Plus, visitors will be able to join a free guided tour of the NSBRC’s new-build educational zone at midday.

A list of exhibitors who will be on stand for the next upcoming Market Day is available on the NSBRC’s website, so you can plan you trip to speak to the right companies for your project.

Find out more about the NSBRC’s Market Days

The Right to Build Task Force has published new data that illustrates that not only are self build homes more sustainable than the average new build, but they have a greater beneficial local impact in terms of spend on materials and labour.

This is welcome news that adds weight to the case for a site when it is submitted for planning, contributing to the argument about a site’s impact versus its harm locally.

The National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) has long known anecdotally that individuals invest more in their own homes in terms of green tech and sustainable methods than mainstream builders, but welcomes the news that for the first time there is data-based evidence to support this.

In terms of building greener, this is mainly due to the fact that self builders invest more than a mainstream builder would as they want a home that’s more energy-efficient and in which they intend to live in for a long time. Equally, they don’t need to factor in a profit margin, unlike speculative builders.

NaCSBA also welcomes the news that the model contributes more locally than speculative building does, as it feeds into local economies – boosting SME businesses and offering training opportunities.

About the research

The analysis was conducted by Chamberlain Walker Economics, which used five local authority areas for the research, chosen as they represent a range of types and sizes. These were Breckland Council, Durham CouncilFolkestone and Hythe District CouncilHerefordshire Council and South Gloucestershire Council.

Sustainability of self build homes

The Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) of self build homes in the five areas were reviewed to compare energy usage, in comparison to new builds in these areas.

The research looked at two metrics: average energy consumption and average CO2 emissions. This found that the average energy consumption of custom and self build homes was significantly lower, by 8-42%, while CO2 emissions were also lower, by 7-43%, in comparison to new build local averages.

This adds to the growing evidence of custom and self build as a greener route to housing, such as the survey that showed that more than 50% of self builds have a renewable energy source as their primary heating system.

Local economic impact

Using the same five areas, the research examined the economic factors around the local impact of labour and materials for custom and self build. It found that these homes roughly doubled the economic impact of mainstream housebuilding, as self builders buy more materials locally, and also source SME trades for their project.

This equated to self build spending nearly double, at £45 in every £100 spent, as opposed to mainstream housebuilders, who spend £22 on local materials and labour.

This is good news for local authorities, as well as providing a pool of work for SME housebuilders, a group that government is keen to see grow.


Analysis undertaken by the National and Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) shows that there is an at least 64% under-measuring of demand by the Right to Build registers.

The analysis, published in the industry-focused Custom and Self Build Report 2023/24, took a fresh look at the registers, which every local or planning authority in England must host, as set out by the Right to Build legislation (Self and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015).

Looking at a three year period (2019-2022), it found that 83,430 people were interested in pursuing an owner-commissioned home, in comparison to the 29,697 people who had signed up to a local authority register for the same three year period. This shows that the demand reflected by these registers is underestimated by at least two thirds.

For the purpose of the analysis NaCSBA reviewed the postcode data of people interested in custom and self building and compared this data against total numbers who had signed a register. It marked interest as those people who had invested roughly £40 on either a magazine subscription or in attending a self build show, with the associated costs for the entire day. For this it assessed anonymised data from three of NaCSBA’s Gold Partners, Build ItHomebuilding & Renovating and the National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC).

Why are the registers important?

The Right to Build registers are the go-to source of demand data for local authorities that acts as evidence of those people who want to build locally. This is important evidence that has a positive input into the decision making process around whether a site gets planning – or not.

NaCSBA is aware that there are many frustrations for people around the registers, such as local connection test or a joining fee, which can discourage people from signing, but strongly advises anyone wanting to self build to sign their register.

This is because the registers are starting to feed into appeals that are leading to companies being awarded planning permission for self build sites, when they were originally turned down, as well as contributing to more supportive local policy to emerge to help meet this demand.

However, local authorities should also be considering secondary sources of data for evidencing demand, such as the multiple effect that the registers underestimate demand – as shown by this research. This helps create a fuller picture of local demand.

Find and sign your local register


Image credit: Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

A recent survey by Suffolk Building Society found that 69% of would-be self builders were unaware that some mortgage lenders will lend for the purchase land as well as for build costs, as long as the land has planning permission in place, making it a certainty.

The research by Suffolk Building Society of 2,000 people also found that many people saw finance and obtaining land as the biggest barriers, but despite this a third of the respondents said they would consider a self build. This was only marginally down from 2020, the last time they asked the questions, showing potential self builders were not overly put off by the economy.

Correspondingly, concern over financing a project was the number one barrier for those interested in self build: other concerns were around seeking planning permission and difficulties in finding suitable land.

Suffolk Building Society believes this lack of awareness about borrowing for land may put people from the idea of self building, believing that it is only for those who are cash-rich or for those with an existing, or gifted, plot. 

The research found that just over half of those who are considering a self build at some point still believe that the route is the preserve of the very wealthy.

Richard Norrington, Chief Executive at Suffolk Building Society said: “Self build television series undoubtedly make for great viewing, but they do set the bar remarkably high. One could easily assume that self build is only for those with unlimited time and deep pockets.

“Self build is considered a fairly standard route to homeownership in countries such as Hungary, France, and Sweden, and with better education and awareness, self build could become more mainstream here in the UK too.”

Self build facts

The survey showed that, actually, the propensity to consider a self build decreases with age: younger people in their 20s (60%) and 30s (56%) are significantly more interested than those in their 50s (16%) and 60s (7%). 

This shows a different picture than much of the other research out there, such as NaCSBA’s own research with the NSBRC of people building, which found that almost three quarters of actual self builders are 55 or over. But it is welcome news that young people are interested in the route. 


As a main motivator, the ability to design the layout of their own home dropped significantly to 28% from 51% in 2020. Instead the research pointed to a range of reasons for self building, including the route being a more affordable way to achieve the ideal home (15%) or having a home in the ideal location (12%). Importantly for government, one in ten (9%) of those considering a self build were doing so to create a home for multiple generations to live together.

Sustainability remains a consistently important motivator, with four in five (83%) wanting the ability to make eco-friendly decisions about their home. However, of these, seven in ten would said such decisions would be dependent on budget.


About the survey: Research undertaken amongst 2,000 UK adults by Opinium on behalf of Suffolk Building Society.

The National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC) has released an infographic sharing the data from its 2023 consumer aspirations survey, which finds that three quarters of self builders are over 55.

The research, which is conducted in association with the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA), is the third annual survey of those interested in self building, made up of users of NaCSBA’s Self Build Portal or visitors to the NSBRC in Swindon. This resulted in the survey capturing the opinions and actions of 759 responses, giving weight to the data.

In line with the sentiments expressed in previous surveys, the data showed that over 90% said they would not buy a new, spec-built home, while over 90% also said that sustainability, including micro-renewables, was a major consideration for them. 


Significant findings

Average ages

Most self builders are between 55-64, with just 1 in 10 under 45. This older age profile has risen slightly over the last three years, but NaCSBA continues to lobby for more opportunities for younger self builders, such as more small sites. 

Finance & age

While the average joint household income is £67,000, many people build with lower household incomes, but this is often because they are retired.

Only 40% of respondees said they worked full time.

New builds

NaCSBA welcomes the fact that over two thirds of resondees successfully found land to build a brand new house. 

Of those who are self building, self-managed is the most common route, with 40% opting to get stuck in. 

Total budgets

The spend for plot and build is up, on average ranging between £350,000-500,000. This has gradually been creeping up, in line with other costs going up across the board.


Two-thirds of respondees are using, or plan to use, savings to fund their project. This is typically made up of personal savings and the equity in their existing property. 

Build methods

Timber frame remains the most popular choice of build method for self builders, at 24%, with SIPs/prefabricated systems closely following at 23%. Brick and block was 14%.

The Right to Build

There is good news that 4 out of 5 people had heard of the Right to Build legislation and the registers, as previous surveys showed less awareness. Just over half of respondees had signed a local self build register, which remains a vital part of every self builder’s journey.

Signing might not get you the plot you want, but it ensures the council knows you want to build and it has a statutory duty to consider this when carrying out its housing and planning work. NaCSBA encourages everyone considering a project to sign up to their Right to Build. For FAQs about the registers click the link below.

Find your local self build register



Click to read the full infographic:

Find out more: 2021 Survey.

Find out more: 2022 Survey.

Modular building gets referenced a lot by government as a solution for building more housing more effectively, but how does that relate to self build?

NaCSBA member MMC Build is a team that offers professionals services, such as project managing, and works exclusively with modular projects. As a specialist, MMC Build is ideally placed to share the benefits of the model, helping you decide if it is the right choice for your self build.

What are modular homes?

Also called prefabricated homes, modular builds are factory fabricated in sections, with the system quickly constructing the house’s structure once on site.

At this stage the homes are erected to weathertight stage, and in most cases this shell is then handed over to the self builder to commission the remaining trades. However, some companies will also take the house to completion, so it’s important to ascertain at what point the home is handed over to you when researching firms.

The benefits of modular homes

Working in the modular field means that MMCBuild is able to relate to the wider benefits of building with MMC, and put that into the context of self build. These include:

Cost savings

Building in a factory is an efficient process in terms of materials (usage and purchase), labour and streamlining, and this can make these homes cost effective. However, while standardised design makes this more affordable in a speculative market (ie regular housing at scale), for one-off homes this saving can be eroded. So discuss cost implications of complicated designs with your modular provider early on. While a single modular home might not be as cheap as a whole estate of modular homes, it often stands up very well when compared to other self build models.

Speed of construction

Modular homes are quicker to build than traditional homes, and are especially quick on site due to the factory lead-time. This means there is less disruption locally due to a prolonged build, and less vulnerability to bad weather, which is ideal for self builders. On-site assembly is completed in weeks rather than months, but short on-site times need to be weighed up with lead times for busy companies.

Design flexibility

Most people tend to think that MMC homes must be identical for the method to work, but modular homes have a wide range of design options. Modules are customised and arranged in various configurations to create unique floor plans. They can also be clad in a variety of materials to give different aesthetics, including brick or brick slips to give the appearance of a traditional ‘brick-and-block’ build. However, as with all self build, simple designs are cheaper to build.

Energy efficiency

Modular homes are specifically designed to be energy efficient. They use energy-efficient materials and components, and the factory fabrication ensures they are airtight and keeps waste to an absolute minimum.

Quality construction

Again, the controlled factory environment ensures precision and a carefully-monitored process.

Overall, the modular construction allows for speed and efficiency, the reason why government likes MMC so much, as it holds great scope for getting more homes built quickly. In the self build arena there are many companies operating as modular providers, and MMC Build’s Rhys-Evans Edet has the following advice for self builders:

“Do your research to find a reputable modular home builder with experience of the UK market. For example, Dan-Wood House sells 1,000s of modular homes a year across Europe, and delivers many of these in the UK.

“Experience of building in the UK means that the company will be familiar with working to UK building regulations and standards, as it’s ultimately your responsibility as a self builder to ensure your contractors are building to the correct standards.

“Also, check that professionals, such as consultants and follow on trades, are familiar with the build method. Most modular companies will be able to share contacts that are trusted for the build out of the home.”

Rowallan Castle Estate (image) in Scotland includes modular custom build homes, as well as other plot opportunities. MMC Build is working with the enabling company to provide project management and health and safety for the site.


For more advice on how to build visit our help section

NaCSBA Member update

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


Timber frame manufacturer Oakwrights specialises in oak framed buildings, which are held in high value for their timeless appeal by many self builders. If you want to find out more Oakwrights has a series of open days coming up in the summer for anyone wanting to experience its builds first hand.

Self builders considering an oak frame can visit the home of a self builder on the 2-3 June in Hampshire or Ayrshire, or in Herefordshire on 14-15 July to see two cottage-style oak frame homes close up.

The open days give you an opportunity to visit a real home built to the specification of its owners, with the self-builders introducing their project, sharing experiences and tips to support you in deciding whether timber frame is right for you.

As well as the owners, there will be a team member from Oakwrights available to answer your questions about building with oak.

On the 2nd and 3rd June you can choose to join Oakwrights in either Hampshire where you will meet homeowners Neil and Linn (whose home is pictured), or Ayrshire where you will meet builders Karen and Iain.

Alternatively, on  the 14-15 July Oakwrights’ head office in Herefordshire will be open, where self-builders Charlie and Helen, and Craig and LB will open the doors to their homes, Church Cottage and Manuka Cottage.

In addition and available on request, visitors book to see our Show Home ‘The Woodhouse’ and join an organised tour of our the workshops where the oak frames and encapsulation panels are prefabricated.

More sites will be open in Autumn, including in Warwickshire, Essex and Ayrshire – visit the Events page for details.

Custom build with Oakwrights

In addition to one off self builds, Oakwrights also has a range of custom build sites with plot opportunities for under between 2-10 homes, find out more the plot opportunities on offer on its website. 

The National Self Build and Renovation Centre Show returns on Friday 12 to Saturday 13 May, bringing with it its usual offering of insight and inspiration for anyone planning a self build, custom build or other major home project.

A new offering for this show is the introduction of VIP tickets, which includes a range of benefits. Most useful is the ability to engage 1-2-1 as VIP ticket holders have preferential access. This includes the opportunity to pre-book consultation appointments with experts, as well as an exclusive Q&A with one of the NSBRC’s own specialists.

Tickets for the show are free, while the VIP tickets cost £40 per couple (or £25 per person) – book here for Friday and here for Saturday.

The VIP ticket includes:

• Guaranteed parking space in front car park
• Exclusive Q&A with an NSBRC experts
• Pre-booked consultation appointments with experts
• Free tea and coffee
• VIP Lounge 
• Complimentary buffet lunch (served between 12 and 1pm)

What’s on at the NSBRC Show

There’s plenty on at the show for whatever stage you’re at, whether you are trying to get an overview of the entire build process or drill-down detail.

Repeated on both days in the Build It Theatre is a six part overview of the stages of entire build process, including: Finance & Funding; Finding Land; Planning Permission; Design Principles; Building Control; and VAT Reclaim.

In addition Friday has Natural Environment Surgeries, including: bat conservation and ecological surveys; landscape design; wildlife-friendly borders; and, wildlife habitats, while Saturday has a focus on Energy and Cost Saving Technology, including: draught exclusion; performance assured insulation; water conditioning and sustainable window shading.

The Sustainability Theatre is also returning with over 20 talks, led by companies well-established in their fields, from MVHR to insulation. This will inform would-be self builders with practical measures and plans to enable them to create a sustainable and energy efficient build.

Find out more about the NSBRC Show

Anyone planning a custom and self build project will spend a lot of time researching their build route and other products, and many package or system manufacturers have useful advice on their websites that you can take advantage of.

As such, it is well worth looking at a range of house manufacturers’ websites to gain an understanding of not only what they deliver as a company, but the principles and products that underpin their offerings.

For example, NaCSBA member Beattie Passive recently overhauled its website, and has a very useful section for self builders.

Beattie Passive is a specialist offsite manufacturer that has built over 450 homes, working in a range of fields such as modular housing and retrofitting, with a focus on structures for self builders that reach Passivhaus standards. It offers a range of routes to the build, including design only, structural – where it erects the house, or turnkey, where it undertakes the entire build.

But the website offers far more than the hard sell. For example, if you’re unsure what Passivhaus actually means, then the website includes useful resources that explain the principles and systems on offer. Helpfully for self builders, it also features a customer journey that illustrates what the company does and what the self builders does on the different models – and when, and other insight, such as what a structural thermal envelope is.

In addition, Beattie Passive also runs a Self Build Academy (pictured) for anyone interested in the route, including professionals, that takes people through a stick build Passivhaus home (ie one that is constructed on site).

Many other companies specialising in custom and self build have a range of useful information, from videos to infographics, so check out NaCSBA members in the directory and benefit from this free source of advice and inspiration.