Government has continued to back people that hope to build their own home, with a raft of measures to boost custom and self build activity. These announcements are important for the sector and local government, and will, in time, result in more opportunities for members of the public who want to self build.
Starting with the announcement of a Help to Build back in December, since then there have been a series of policies and proposals that namecheck the sector. Together these add weight to the argument for scaling up custom and self build.
Measures to support custom and self build
- A review of the Right to Build legislation to improve people’s experiences,
- A proposed improvement in the way councils collect information on self and custom build with regards to their local self build registers;
- A Brownfield Land Release Fund that includes, among other things, provision to support self and custom build to come forward;
- A new Right to Regenerate, to enable people to bring unused public sector land to market,
- A planned Help to Build equity loan scheme to give custom and self-builders a route to finance for their project.
The Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, who announced the news about the Brownfield Land Release Fund said “We are backing people who want to design and build their own home, and today I have launched a review to ensure councils provide enough land and take proper consideration for these homes when making planning decisions in their area.”
NaCSBA hopes that these measures will be embraced by local government in the spirit in which they are intended.
Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, CEO of NaCSBA commented, saying: “We thoroughly welcome this news for anyone wanting to build their own home. This is investment that will help bring forward more sites for self and custom builders, and we hope this will lead to more sites coming forwards across England.
The Self Build Portal is the consumer website of the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA), aimed at supporting would be builders. While 2020 was a well acknowledged shocker for most people, you may be surprised to know that it worked out pretty well for would-be custom and self builders.
Although aimed at professionals working in custom and self build, NaCSBA’s Review of the Year makes for interesting reading for anyone wondering whether they can access an owner-commissioned homes.
Among the highpoints:
NaCSBA set up a group to promote Housing Diversification – designed to work to give more people the chance to access a home that suits the. Members include Federation of Master Builders and the House Builders Association (which represents small- and medium-housebuilders) and community led housing groups, including the UK Cohousing Network and the National Community Land Trust Network.
NaCSBA also lobbies government and responds to various consultations to ensure that self build gets a proper attention, including the Planning for the Future White Paper.
It also conducted research into the nation’s self build aspirations, which it produced along with the Building Societies Association. This found that a third of people are interested in self building in the future. Of this third – the younger age group were the most keen to get started.
The announcement of a new Help to Build Equity Loan scheme should help this 33% of the population that is interested in a self or custom build project, as it offers a valuable route to finance. To date, there’s little information about how this might work – but NaCSBA will share the news as soon as it is finalised.
Behind the scenes, the Right to Build Task Force has also been busy helping local authorities get to grips with the Right to Build, and also produced new Planning Guidance for Custom and Self Build. Although aimed at professionals – it makes for very useful reading if you are preparing a self build for submission for planning.
Image: Self Build Aspirations
New research into the aspirations of those that want to self build has revealed that 1 in 3 adults in Great Britain are interested in self building at some point in the future.
Released to mark Right to Build Day on 30 October, the research reflects the appetite of the public for a home in which they have had a role in designing and commissioning.
NaCSBA and the Building Societies Association (BSA), who commissioned the research, wanted to get a fresh perspective of self build intentions and the effect of COVID-19 on people’s feelings about their home.
In terms of people’s aspirations to self build, the data found that:
- Nearly a third of GB adults (32%) are interested in designing and building their own home.
- 9% of people said they were likely to build their own home at some point in the future. This compares to around 5% of new homes currently being built as custom and self build annually**
- Interest is highest in the young, with nearly half (48%) of those between 18 and 24 saying they were interested. This aspiration reduced with age, with less than 1 in 5 (18%) of those aged 55 and over being interested.
- The main benefit for building is seen as the ability to design a home to the owner’s exact specifications (74%), followed by the ability to create a home that can adapt to meet current and future needs (50%).
- Finding the money to finance the project, including mortgage finance, is seen as the biggest hurdle (59%).
- A third of people said living in a home that had less impact on the environment and was more sustainable was a key benefit of building a home (33%), and nearly 9 in 10 people (89%) said energy efficiency would be important if they were to build a new home.
In response to COVID-19 and the way we see our homes, the data showed that:
- Almost 2 in 5 (39%) said the pandemic has made them need a home office space.
- Almost half (48%) said they would like more space as a result of the lockdown. 36% said they would like more indoor space, and 37% said they would like more outdoor space.
- Nearly a third (31%) have considered home improvements at some point in the future as a result of lockdown.
- 1 in 20 (5%) considered designing and building their own home in response to the crisis.
NaCSBA and the BSA welcome the news that it is the youngest generation of 18-24 who are most interested in self building (48%), as they represent a new market. However, there is a disconnect, as it is the younger generations who tend to have the least amount of savings and less earning potential due to their age.
This marries with the perception that financing the build project is the most significant limiting factor preventing people from self building. 59% cited this as the most significant barrier.
To help meet the deposit gap, the 2019 Conservative party manifesto promised that the Help to Buy scheme would be extended to the sector, which NaCSBA continues to push for.
Having a smaller environmental impact was also a key factor behind the ambition to self build, with a third (33%) of people identifying it as a core benefit of building a home. Almost 9 in 10 (89%) of people said it was important that their newly built home was energy efficient, when asked to envision building their own home.
Housing diversification is a core part of the Government’s wider housing strategy, as England has the lowest known rate of self-commissioned homes in the world. The Right to Build legislation requires councils to grant sufficient planning permissions to match the demand evidenced on their registers.
However, despite legislation in 2015 and 2016, the survey found that 83% of people had never heard of the registers held by local authorities of people who would like to build their own home. NaCSBA urges all those looking to self-build to sign up to their local Right to Build register via www.righttobuildportal.org.
THE PANDEMIC AND OUR HOMES
It is no surprise that the COVID-19 crisis has affected people’s perceptions of what they want out of their home, with the need for a home office being important for 39% of people.
Further to this, the lockdown inspired almost 1 in 3 British adults to consider making home improvements as they re-evaluated their living space (31%), while 1 in 20 (5%) considered going on to design and build their own home as a response to the crisis. Clear evidence that the pandemic has made many of us reassess what we want out of a home.
Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, NaCSBA’s CEO said, “The current lack of choice in our new homes market makes it different from every other country and every other consumer market. Only when there is diversity of choice will we get the diversity of homes that we want and need.”
Paul Broadhead, Head of Mortgages and Housing at the BSA said, “It’s great to see that there are so many aspiring self and customs builders, particularly among the youngest generation (18-24yrs). Increased levels of home working this year have led many to realise the importance of future proofing their homes to suit their individual needs.
“Mutual lenders are leading the way to help these self-build dreams become a reality, with 21 building societies currently lending to people building their own homes, they are the clear choice for many and are leaders in this space.”
Building societies offering self and/or custom build products:
|Bath Building Society
||Beverley Building Society
|Chorley Building Society
||Darlington Building Society
||Earl Shilton Building Society
|Dudley Building Society
||Furness Building Society
|Ecology Building Society
||Ipswich Building Society
|Hanley Economic Building Society
||Mansfield Building Society
|Loughborough Building Society
||Penrith Building Society
|Melton Mowbray Building Society
||Saffron Building Society
|Progressive Building Society
||Scottish Building Society (Scotland only)
|Stafford Railway Building Society
||Swansea Building Society
|Vernon Building Society
Start your self build journey by signing your local self build register – find yours at www.righttobuildportal.org
About the survey:
NaCSBA and the BSA commissioned YouGov to conduct the survey. Data is based on total sample size of 2017 adults, with the survey carried out online on 9th-11th October 2020. Figures are weighted and representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
The 30th October 2019 is a crucial date for all English local authorities as it is the first date ever that they have to demonstrate that they have granted enough permissions for the 18,000 people that signed up to the Right to Build in its first year of existence. These are the people that signed their local self build registers, held by their council, to demonstrate that they were interested in building their own home.
The registers are a little complicated in how they work, but essentially the 30 October each year is a cut off point for when planning authorities need to show that they have acted. Each ‘base’ period works on a rolling three-year period – meaning that from the close of the first register year (the 30 October 2016) councils had three years to act. So the Right to Build Day is the first time we get to see how many plots have actually been granted permission to be built upon.
For the first year this figure was 18,000 – so on 30 October 2019 the authorities should (!) demonstrate that they have granted enough planning permissions to reflect this demand.
To find out what’s happening, the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) conducts a Freedom of Information request to all English authorities, including county, borough and district councils and national parks. Its last request illustrated that, at October 2018, council’s Custom and Self Build activity across the country is very mixed, creating a postcode lottery of provision.
Right to Build Day will trigger the next piece of research. NaCSBA will be tracking activity, finding out the self build heroes and the ‘could-try-harder’ councils, and be sharing this information with you, the industry and, importantly, government in an attempt to get a more even spread of activity.
NaCSBA believes that Custom and Self Build gives more people more choice in the types of home, and what’s it can help encourage the build out of housing as it diversifies supply – an important goal for government as it works to get more 300,000 new homes a year by the mid 2020s.
Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, CEO, National Custom and Self Build Association said: “We’ve had to wait a long time since the legislation was passed to find out how effective it has been – and Right to Build Day will help clarify the picture. Our annual research and the work of the Right to Build Task Force has helped us to identify good, bad and some downright ugly performance from Local Authorities, and we will hold the government to its commitment to consider taking further action including possible changes to legislation if they do not believe sufficient action is being taken.
“Ongoing annual targets will mean local authorities will now need to continue to ensure a regular pipeline of new plots, enabling more wonderful new homes to be built and in doing so create a virtuous cycle of increased public awareness, increased opportunities and increased supply of custom and self build homes. The UK’s period at the bottom of the world league for the numbers of custom and self build homes may at last be coming to an end.”
The Right to Build – facts:
*The ‘Right to Build’ places two legal obligations on Local Authorities in England:
1. Under the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 all Local Authorities in England must keep a register of people and groups of people who are seeking to purchase serviced plots of land in the authority’s area and to have regard to that register when carrying out their functions. Registers were required from 1st April 2016.
2. The Housing and Planning Act 2016 requires all Local Authorities in England to grant sufficient ‘development permissions’ to meet the demand for Custom and Self Build housing in their area, as established by their register, on a rolling basis. Permissions equivalent to the number of people registering from 1st April 2016 to 30th October 2016 should be granted by 30th October 2019. Permissions equivalent to the number of people registering from 30th October 2016 to 30th October 2017 should be granted by 30th October 2020 and so on. This includes 18,000 permissions by 30th October 2019.
The Right to Build myths:
There are many misconceptions about the registers:
- Signing your self build register means that the planning authority must find you a plot – this is incorrect, as local authorities just need to grant planning permission for one plot to reflect your demand as one person wanting to build,
- You can only sign a single register – this is incorrect you can sign as many self build registers as you want, but some charge and some have local connection tests to limit this.
- Councils must ‘create’ plots – incorrect, local authorities have to grant planning permission on plots rather than bring them on themselves, although some councils do do this.
- Councils have to manage their own register – again this is not true, councils have a duty to have a register, but can ask a third-party to run and manage it for them,
- Councils must link people wanting plots with landowners and developers that have plots – again, incorrect. Unfortunately the legislation requires councils to run a list as a source of evidence for appetite for self building, but not to facilitate this directly by running a service that connects people up.
So why sign the registers?
The Right to Build registers are vital for alerting councils about demand – and they have to consider this. So by signing up you’re ensuring that more Custom and Self Build happens in your local area. And the more it happens, the more it becomes normal and accessible, with more people considering it as a route to a new home.
Calculating the size of the UK’s Custom and Self Build sector
The National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) is running a survey of Self Builders who have reclaimed Value Added Tax (VAT) on their project. It is calling for anyone who has built or commissioned their own home in the last five years to fill in the survey, anonymously, as gathering this data helps it establish the size of the sector.
This data, together with other information, such as the number of single dwellings created per year, this gives us an estimate of the number of self builders in the country.
Knowing how many people are self building in the UK is vital for NaCSBA, as it shares these figures with the wider industry, and more importantly, with Government, helping fuel the conversation about creating more Custom and Self Build opportunities for more people across the UK. The more people that are building, the more new opportunities will come on the market.
From 2019 calculating the size of the sector will be easier, as there is now a question on the form that you must submit for planning permission (1APP), that will help gather this data. However, for earlier years we need to compile this data retrospectively – which you can help with.
One minute of your time
Please help others who want to self build by filling in the survey, or by sharing it with friends and associates. If you have self built, custom built, commissioned a new home or converted a building into a home, then we want to know how you reclaimed your VAT.
The survey is anonymous – it’s just nine questions, but it makes a huge difference to the work we do as an organisation, helping us to make custom build and self build more of a mainstream choice for more people.
Share this link with anyone who has self built recently: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/YDBQ26T
Eden District Council, in partnership with Andy Lloyd of the National Community Land Trust Network, is running a free self-build, custom-build and community-led housing event in Penrith on 4 July. With exhibitors and presentations, the event is ideal for any prospective custom, self and community builders wanting to get help or advice, find like-minded people or take the next step on their ambition to create their own home.
Kicking off at 6pm at the Rheged Centre, there’s an hour allocated for networking and talking to exhibitors, with presentations starting at 7pm.
TV presenter and architectural technician Charlie Luxton will be sharing his enthusiastic personal experiences of self building, before a range of presentations that will help you discover more about building as part of a community, planning, finance and more.
Exhibitors and advice*:
• Andy Lloyd, National Community Land Trust Network Technical Advisor
• ACT Cumbria and Lancaster Community-led Housing Hub
• Atkinson Building Contractors
• 2030 Architects
• JIW Properties
• LoCal Homes
• Penrith Building Society
• Thomas Armstrong – kit systems
• Unity Trust Bank
• Hyde Harrington
• Manning Elliott
• Green Footsteps
• Ecological Building Systems
• Eden District Council – Officers from Planning, Building Control and Community-led Housing
And presentations from:
• Charlie Luxton, architectural designer, writer and TV presenter
• ACT Cumbria and Lancaster Community-led Housing Hub
• Patterdale Community Land Trust / Eden Housing Association partnership
• Lancaster Forgebank Co-housing
• Ecomotive, a social enterprise supporting group projects with an emphasis on sustainability and affordability
• Rod Hughes from 2030 Architects
• Rob Jerams from LoCaL Homes, a not-for-profit advanced housing manufacturer, offering high performance, low carbon housing solutions
• Bruce Armstrong-Payne, local self-builder and Planning Consultant
• Michelle Stevens from Penrith Building Society.
*Subject to change
While the event is free, places are limited so registration is a must.
Andy Lloyd is a community housing adviser to the National Community Land Trust Network. He provides technical support to communities and local authorities in the Penrith area, helping to deliver community owned affordable housing projects, such as:
• Lyvennet Community Trust in Crosby Ravensworth
• Keswick Community Housing Trust
• Lune Valley Community Land Trust in Halton, Lancashire
Community-led housing includes self-build, co-housing, co-operative housing, self-help housing and community land trusts (CLTs). This housing enables communities to become active players in their own sustainable development.
Sign up to Eden District Council’s Self and Custom Build Register.
EXHIBIT: If your company provides goods and services which may be of interest to self-builders and would like to exhibit at the event please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about Build your Home, Build your Community event here.