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

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.

NaCSBA member Potton is celebrating its 60th year in the timber frame business with its first open day in 2024 on Saturday 6th January at its St Neots show centre

The day is a packed overview of the entire build process when building with Potton, ideal for novice and serial self builders. As well as the opportunity to see the range of show homes on the site, visitors can drop in, without an appointment, to have a chat and their questions answered.

Potton’s self-build consultants will be in the Gransden to offer expert advice informally, or with one-to-one sessions, and there is a programme of morning talks visitors can join.

Seminar timetable
10.40am – 11.20am Build & Budget. An overview of the self build process.

11.40am – 12.20pm Timber frame or SIPS  Discover the pros and cons of these different build systems and the benefits of offsite construction.

12.40pm – 1.20pm Designing your dream home. A step-by-step guide to designing your ideal home, including the local authority planning context, approvals and tailoring your home to your needs.

Plus on the day, each show house a specialist in it acting as a hub with the: Design Hub in The Milchester, the Land Hub in the Wickhambrook, the Build Hub in The Elsworth.

Plus you’ll get the chance to raise a glass of fizz to Potton to celebrate it’s 60th year!

Sign up for Potton’s Self Build Day on 6 January


The first 18 self build plots at Orchard Farm in Kennington, Kent, have been launched for pre-reservation, ahead of the official sales opening in early 2024. Anyone interested in the process of self building at Orchard Farm is invited to sign up to its free webinar on 12 December, 18:00-19:00.

Sign up to the webinar

The pre-registration window is a chance for anyone seriously wanting to build on the site to get ahead of the process so that as many elements as possible are in place in time for the plot sales. These will go to market once the full planning application for the first phase of 18 plots is granted by Ashford Borough Council, expected in January.

Orchard Farm Kent will be a large self build community once all the phases are delivered, with 122 homes planned in total. Phase 1 is made up of the 18 plots, which includes a mix of plot sizes to ensure that there are a range of price points for different buyers.

The site is the result of a collaboration between community-driven developer Steenvlinder, which specialises in creating sites for individual and collective self-builders, and Kent-based developer Urbanise.

Self building at Orchard Farm

The process of building at Orchard Farm allows you to create your own home, built within the parameters of a Plot Passport. There’s a customer guide in place to support you through this process, with options including building to Golden Brick to maximise your VAT burden.

Plot purchasers commission their own team(s) to design and build their home, and Orchard Farm has put together a network of independent self build experts who can help you with the process, including design teams, finance companies, housebuilders, package manufacturers and more.

Hans Sparreboom, Founder & CEO at Steenvlinder, said: “Orchard Farm is a beautiful location. It presents an exceptional opportunity for individuals to join a green, self-build community by constructing their dream homes either independently or with the guidance of their chosen architects and builder. We are excited by the level of interest in the initial plots, including from individuals, couples, and families living in and around Ashford, Kent and elsewhere, but also welcome further enquiries.”

Adam Roake, Owner at Urbanise, said: “Self-build is not as common in the UK as it is in Europe. That is why we are pleased to be partnering with Steenvlinder, a Dutch development company with over a decade of experience in this growing sector. Together, we have devised a well-structured self-build process that will guide our customers through their journey, including access to our new network of independent experts.”

Sign up to the webinar for more information or visit the Orchard Farm website which has a detailed overview of the processes involved, together with plenty of FAQs. 

NaCSBA member Air Craft Southern has added the innovative Heliomotion system to its suite of heating, cooling and solar solutions. Ideal for any self builder interested in improving sustainability, Heliomotion is a solar power plant for residential and commercial use, that moves to track the position of the sun, thereby maximising efficiency.


Easily installed by DIYers, once in place the configuration follows the sun in two-axes, which means the solar panels can deliver between 30-60% more energy annually, in comparison to a conventional roof-mounted system.

It uses GPS to calculate the sun’s location from its position to maximise the energy produced from solar power. This can be used to power the home, or stored in batteries for later use.


Not every roof is suitable for solar, and Heliomotion is a great solution for those with sufficient outdoor space for this clever alternative to solar generation. 

Produced by Bee Solar Tech, tracking systems can increase productivity, meaning that you can secure the same energy output with few panels than a fixed system. Heliomotion won Best Sustainable Technology or Product category in the 2022 Build It Awards

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.”

Government has announced a plan to scrap the stranglehold that nutrient neutrality has had on house building. This saw a complete ban on any new housing in wide areas across England. The announcement is great news for builders, not only self builders but for custom build developers who have been impacted.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove announced a major deregulation of the rules around Nutrient Neutrality which led to 74 councils setting up moratoriums for all new building, following requirements made by Natural England.

Gove commented that cutting the red tape will unblock up to 100,000 stalled homes, which is worth £18 million in activity for the economy.

In the announcement government squarely blames ‘defective’ EU laws for the problem of Nutrient Neutrality, although it was the government quango Natural England that made the requirements that halted building. Most councils enforced a ban in affected areas as not doing so would have left them open to legal challenge.

What is Nutrient Neutrality?

Nutrient Neutrality refers to run off of excessive nutrients from the land, which pollutes water courses and damages river habitats. But new housing is believed to cause minimal additional run off, with farming and out-of-date water treatment plants being the main forces contributing to pollution.

An amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will bring about the announced change, and building could commence immediately on many sites as a considerable number have planning permission in place.

Housebuilders welcomed the announcement, but environmentalists have criticised government for its stance.

However, government also announced new environmental measures to improve habitats and reduce pollution, including more funding for Natural England’s Nutrient Mitigation Scheme, which offsets any negative impact from house building.

Michael Gove MP said: “We are committed to building the homes this country needs and to enhancing our environment. The way EU rules have been applied has held us back. These changes will provide a multi-billion pound boost for the UK economy and see us build more than 100,000 new homes.

“Protecting the environment is paramount which is why the measures we’re announcing today will allow us to go further to protect and restore our precious waterways whilst still building the much-needed homes this country needs.

“We will work closely with environmental agencies and councils as we deliver these changes.”


Selfbuilders love getting design inspiration and advice, and where better place to start than with the longlist for the RIBA House of the Year 2023?

Each year Grand Designs: House of the Year shares the shortlist and winners on TV in December, but the longlist gives you a look at what’s to come.

RIBA has published its longlist of lustworthy projects on its site, with the entries making up some of the most breathtaking homes built in the last year. And it’s not all about Grand Design style homes, NaCSBA member Ecomotive’s tiny SNUG home for HomeMade is in the running too. In fact, SNUG started as a competition entry in NaCSBA’s Self Build on a Shoestring, way back in 2015!

You can also find previous winners on the website, including last year’s RIBA House of the Year, the Red House by David Kohn Architects

View the 2023 longlist for the House of the Year

If you are looking for an architect, RIBA has a Find an Architect service on its website, together with helpful advice on working with an architect and choosing the right one for your project. Anyone building in Scotland will need to visit RIAS, the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, which has similar resources.