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.
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 Council, Folkestone and Hythe District Council, Herefordshire Council and South Gloucestershire Council.
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.
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.
The Building Performance Network (BPN) has published three free modules to support a range of stakeholders, including self builders, to help them get sustainability right. The guides are designed to support stakeholders to understand the gap between planned energy performance and the actual reality of living in the home.
At NaCSBA we know self builders often become semi-professional in the level of knowledge they develop as they pursue their own build. As such, while these guides won’t be relevant for all, there will be many self builders researching sustainability who will find them insightful as they work to create an energy home that performs as well as promised.
BPE refers to the performance of a home and its systems. Understanding around this area can be complicated, drawing on various data sources, but is necessary to support the emergence of more homes better able to reduce their carbon footprint.
The Building Performance Evaluation modules:
The guides , the first three of five, will support your understanding of what it’s like living in buildings where sustainability has been factored in, in comparison to their predicted performance. This in turn will help you when it comes to making decisions about fabric and systems for your own build, helping you to cut through the greenwash.
The new guides are available at the BPN’s Resource Hub, which is sponsored by Ecology Building Society, and are designed to be entry level for those who are new to BPE and want to understand how to avoid building inefficient homes.
Scotland is leading the way in the UK with a trailblazing piece of legislation that requires all new homes to meet a new Scottish passive standard by 2024, including owner-commissioned or self build homes.
Similar to the Passivhaus Standard, the new regulations set a minimum standard for environmental design standards, meaning all new build homes must meet set levels of airtightness, insulation and energy standards.
Doing this will offer a better lived experience for residents, delivering high levels of thermal performance and energy efficiency that should help manage energy costs, as well as meet wider climate challenges.
The change is set out in the new Domestic Building Environmental Standards Bill, and it is expected that secondary legislation will be passed in Scotland to ensure the standard is being me by 2024.
Alex Rowley MSP introduced the change through a private member’s bill calling for all new housing to meet Passivhaus standard, or a Scottish equivalent, a direct response to the Scottish Climate Assembly Recommendations for Action around homes.
Jon Bootland, CEO, Passivhaus Trust said, “It is a truly forward-thinking approach by the Scottish Government and a positive response to the 2021 Scottish Climate Assembly recommendations.
“They are to be applauded for taking this crucial step towards meeting their Net Zero/ Climate Emergency goals. Now we must ensure that the Bill is well developed and implemented to deliver the greatest impact on the actual performance of new homes in Scotland.”
The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) recently announced that the shortage of construction materials crisis, which had been significant since the pandemic, is easing.
The CLC’s product availability working group tracks the issues around production and supply of materials, many of which were affected by the pandemic, shipping costs, and the energy crisis, leading to shortages and long lead times.
This was a problem for all construction, pushing up prices and causing delays, with smaller builders – and of course self builders – often most affected.
So NaCSBA welcomes the news that shortages are easing, with improvements seen in most of the construction materials, with the exception of Northern Ireland, where local issues around transportation continue to be an issue.
Over the summer the picture has improved especially for aircrete bricks and blocks and softwood, but the energy crisis is adding additional pressure. On one hand it will lead to price increases for energy intensive items, such as glass, with transport costs further impacting price. Equally, the wider energy crisis has led to increased demand – and costs – for renewables, such as solar photovoltaics.
One by-product of crisis is that SME housebuilders and trades are suffering as people postpone renovation and extension work, but this can create additional availability that self builders can take advantage of as their projects, once commenced, cannot be delayed.
The Building Regulations have been amended to secure a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions for all new build homes, which comes into effect in June 2022.
The changes represent government’s response to the consultation to the Future Buildings Standard, which examined new homes in relation to energy efficiency, ventilation and overheating. Its response sets out a vision for construction to support the country to deliver its climate change ambitions.
With heating and power in buildings contributing to 40% of the UK’s entire energy usage, the new regulations require a 30% reduction against current standards for new homes, with other new buildings reducing output by 27%.
NaCSBA knows that self builders are, typically where finances allow, ahead of the curve in creating more sustainable homes, frequently building above Building Regulations – which are a set of minimum standards. As such they are pioneers in low carbon technology, including solar panels and heat pumps.
In previous decades heat retention was a major driving factor behind regulations, but increasingly overheating has become a topic of debate, with many new buildings creating uncomfortable living environments that fail to respond to climate change.
Consequently, building design must take overheating and improved ventilation into account to meet the requirements of the updated Building Regulations.
The regulations are an important step in the preparing to meet the Future Homes and Buildings Standard in 2025, which will mean all future homes are net zero ready and will not need retrofitting.
Housing Minister Eddie Hughes said: “Climate change is the greatest threat we face and we must act to protect our precious planet for future generations. The government is doing everything it can to deliver net zero and slashing CO2 emissions from homes and buildings is vital to achieving this commitment.
“The changes will significantly improve the energy efficiency of the buildings where we live, work and spend our free time and are an important step on our country’s journey towards a cleaner, greener built environment.”
Credit: Arron Beecham
In an effort to meet the climate challenge, all new homes will, from 2022, need to include an electric vehicle charging point, including self builds.
Announced by Boris Johnson in a speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) last month, the regulations – which have been billed as world-leading by the government – calls for a revolution for electric vehicles.
Under the new legislation, new homes, supermarkets and workplaces, including those undergoing major renovation where there are over 10 spaces upon completion, will be required to install electric vehicle charge points from next year – although it’s not clear at what point in 2022 these will be required.
Government believes that the new measures could lead to the installation of 145,000 extra charge points across England annually, helping to meet demand as we reach 2030 when the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be phased out.
Boris Johnson said: “The force driving that change won’t be government, it won’t even be business…it will be the consumer. It will be the young people of today, who can see the consequences of climate change and will be demanding better from us.”
While the news was welcomed in general, The Guardian reported that this new legislation must be just one approach to change, but one that needs additional measures to ensure that charging needs are fair, in socially disadvantaged and rural areas as well.
The National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) welcomes today’s launch of the £150 million Help to Build equity loan fund. Research in October found that 1 in 3 British adults were interested in a self build, and this new fund will help make this dream possible.
Announced by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, Help to Build will transform the sector, and reflects Government’s confidence that more custom and self build homes can be delivered.
Help to Build will help those with smaller deposits access a self or custom build home, and will provide access to additional funding and a lower mortgage rate than would otherwise be the case. A dedicated scheme was necessary because almost all custom and self builders were unable to access the existing Help to Buy Equity Loan Scheme.
In addition to the benefits of having a home built to your own designs and specifications, the scheme is based on the cost to the customer of building their home, and not the price for which a completed home is being sold.
Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, NaCSBA CEO said: “There has been a long-recognised need for greater diversity in our new homes market, and the Help to Build scheme is an important step towards greater customer choice for those with ambition, sound plans and smaller deposits. Help to Build is about increasing choice for the homebuyer.
“Contrary to common perception, in most cases custom and self build is not about people undertaking the build themselves. Rather, it is about the homeowner having control over the design and specification of their project – enabling them to create the home they want, rather than the one someone else believes they would like. It means that new homes will now be part of the solution for the large numbers of people whose cultural, ecological, physical or emotional needs are not currently met by the new-build market.
“In addition, there are many areas where speculative builders are choosing not to build at the speed and scale that is needed, that will benefit from the new housing that Help to Build will facilitate. Custom and self build is common everywhere else in the world. Were we in this situation we would be delivering over 100,000 homes each year via the route.
“This scheme is all about delivering more and better homes, that more people aspire to live in and that communities are happier to see built. This is part of a wider set of changes from the Government to improve diversity and access in our new homes market including the Right to Build. This is an important day for the sector and an important part of building better and beautiful.”
For anyone thinking of self building, NaCSBA has this advice:
Sign up to your local self build register in the area where you would like to build – find yours at www.righttobuildportal.org
Image: A self build by English Brothers Limited, built using pre-insulated timber frame panels and includes an insulation ‘wrap’ which makes for a cost-effective way to achieve a u-value of just 0.14 W/m2k.
Anyone considering a community led homes project will be interested to know that the clock is ticking for proposals to be submitted for a 0.10acre site in Waltham Forest, London, with submissions due 11.1.21.
The land is available to deliver affordable housing in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, and the council is keen to hear from community led housing groups in the area who are looking for a site.
The land in question is a former garage site in a residential area of terraced housing, which is currently partly being used for parking. There is a range of site investigations already undertaken, that bidders will want to see.
You can also contact the council’s community led housing team.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has created a new website for selling small publicly-owned sites as a pilot for providing plots for the capital’s small- and medium-enterprise builders.
For small developers and groups, the Greater London Authority hosts a Small Sites webpage, with links to small, publicly-owned parcels of land that are suitable for delivering housing. The sites are available for developers, housing associations and communities.
An initiative of Mayor Sadiq Khan, the site was originally piloted in 2018 to market 10 small sites for London’s small- and medium-enterprise (SME) house builders. Since then, the site has grown offering SMEs and groups a route to publicly-owned land, making it a valuable resource.
There are currently 40 sites available through the Small Sites, Small Builders programme, details of which are available on the website or via the newsletter. Sites to look out for are Tower Hamlets which is release a series of small sites to self builders as part of its Affordable Self Build Programme.
As well as sites owned by local authorities, some land is owned by Transport for London. The site also includes resources for small builders, including links to development finance.
The National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) has partnered with UK Cohousing Network, National Community Land Trust Network and the Federation of Master Builders to create a new group called Housing Diversification. It’s aim is to persuade Government to create more opportunities for more people to live in custom build, self build and community-led housing. These are houses are typically built by small- to medium-enterprise (SME) housebuilders.
Together, the groups believe that this type of housing could result in an extra 130,000 homes being built by 2025. These homes would be additional units, in that they would be extra to the homes built by the major housebuilders in this period, and therefore help government in its ambition to build 300,000 homes a year.
Housing Diversification knows that the homes built by SME builders for self build and community-led projects are typically more sustainable, beautiful, innovative and of higher quality than many open market homes. In addition, these homes also boost the local economy, providing local jobs and training opportunities.
The number of SME housebuilders has fallen significantly since the 1980s, and halved following the last recession. These SME companies are vital for the supply of local houses, and opportunities must be created to allow them to operate on a level playing field with volume housebuilders, which have very deep pockets.
Housing diversification has three asks of Government:
Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, CEO, National Custom and Self Build Association and spokesperson for the group said: “Despite the importance of houses to our lives and the scale of their cost, there is currently too little choice when it comes to new homes in this country.
“We have come together as Housing Diversification to deliver more passion, quality, and care into the new homes and the new communities that we, as a nation, need to be creating. Just like any other market, increasing diversification will improve quality, innovation, and value. We will deliver homes more people want to live in and that more welcome being built.”
NaCSBA has curated guidance for working safely on site for anyone involved with their own project. Whether you are returning to your site or scaling up the work that has been ongoing throughout, NaCSBA’s guidance for custom and self builders is invaluable.
Whether you are acting as project manager or commissioning a company to build your home, it is worth taking note of the guidance or sharing it with your contractors.
As England begins to ease off of the stay-at-home restrictions, the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) has put together the following guidance to assist both individual self builders and companies when undertaking building work.
Government guidance in England never called for building sites to be closed, as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma pointed out in his 31 March letter to the construction industry. However, he acknowledged the need for safe working practices to underpin all decisions with regards to working on site.
In spite of this, many companies and individuals ceased working, either through a desire to stay safe or through an inability to operate during the crisis.
This guide is intended to support self builders and businesses about what practices they should be following to ensure they are operating safely. It is intended as a signposting document to support businesses and individuals in their decisions about how they return to work, and draws extensively on a range of industry knowledge. But ultimately, each site is the responsibility of the owners and/or main contractors.
However, NaCSBA believes that with good practice building activity can and should continue, as it represents a valuable flow of work for the local and wider economy. Custom and self build have a core role in helping the country to return to economic health, supporting Government objectives and providing a crucial supply of new homes.
NaCSBA has published information around planning, and below you will find more information about undertaking work.
In addition, NaCSBA has been providing weekly updates on the sector to Government, reporting barriers for the sector during the crisis. If you have a specific question or would like to share your experiences please email us.
There is plenty of guidance from Government and major industry bodies to advise larger development sites, much of which can be applied to smaller sites as well.
The first point of call for professional support is the Construction Leadership Council which is on Version 3 of its Site Operating Procedures (14 April).
Based on Public Health England advice, this has detailed guidance about keeping workers safe on site, and you can expect it to be regularly updated to reflect the latest Government stance, so check back regularly. This is the leading document for safe on site work.
BuildUK, a representation organisation for over 40% of the UK construction industry, is also a useful source of information and guidance, with regular updates on the Coronavirus situation.
Small sites are arguably easier to manage than larger sites, purely on the basis that there are fewer people on site, so meeting the 2m safety requirement may be more manageable. Jobs that require teams or several people must be carefully considered to ensure the comply with the Site Operating Procedures guidance.
Establishing what is safe in terms of work is balancing act, and as an employer you are responsible for the safety of workers and anyone else visiting your site. It is essential that you assess the risk of the work on site, to identify sensible measures to minimise risk. The Health and Safety Executive have interactive tools to help you do this.
Government guidance also includes a series of useful steps:
Advice is clear that you must not be on site if you have any symptoms whatsoever or are, or live with, a vulnerable person, which could be to do with age, pregnancy or an underlying health or clinical condition.
Equally, if you are living with someone who is self isolating you should not be on site. While this means some people will not be able to be on site, it supports the wider working population to operate in a safer environment.
If you are responsible for a site then you must ensure that these rules are followed by all who come onto the site at any time.
If you think you have symptoms, follow NHS advice on Coronavirus.
The Federation of Mater Builders (FMB) has excellent advice around contracts. The situation is unprecedented, and consequently few contracts will have information for dealing with current work scenarios.
The FMB recommends the following:
The Construction Leadership Council has produced a statement on payment and contracts, which deals with risk around invoking contractual clauses to the detriment of other firms. Construction businesses should still pay according to the original terms.
It is important to acknowledge chains within building projects. Any point in the chain could cause a delay that may mean you are unable meet what you have contractually agreed, whether due to labour or supply chain interruptions.
The situation may impact price, types of materials, deadlines for work, so communication must be open and candid to keep work on track. Ensure any changes are agreed, carefully documented and signed by both parties.
The stay-at-home crisis has changed the way many people work, so check if you can sign digitally for contracts, but always ensure you do your own checks that this is acceptable. Government confirmed that in most cases electronic signatures are acceptable, but the situation gets blurry if a document needs witnessing, so seek legal advice.
As with contracts, you will need to review your scheduling of work and deliveries, to reflect the inevitable interruptions that will typify working for the rest of the year. This is crucial on a self build, where jobs are often sequential, and there aren’t other properties that trades can work on.
This applies to the hire or purchase of equipment, so be certain you have the tools you need to do the job well in advance of them being needed. Users of any plant or equipment should wash their hands properly before and after using any tools, as per Government guidance.
Another crucial component for scheduling, materials are typically ordered to correspond with jobs, but this may not be practical due to gaps in the delivery and supply chain. Planning permissions may stipulate materials, so alternatives can not necessarily be swapped in – check the conditions attached to your project.
Materials are a commodity that attract theft and may be damaged, so if you are ordering ahead ensure you have a secure space for storage, and check the situation with your insurance around storing on site.
The National Business Crime Centre has helpful advice for securing professional sites, and many of the principles also apply to smaller sites.
The Construction Products Association (CPA) has advice for anyone operating in manufacturing, some of which is of relevance for the construction industry.
Most manufacturers have detailed websites showcasing their products, as well as case studies illustrating the use of materials. Equally, if you call companies when choosing materials they may be able to post out samples or direct you to other online examples of their materials, such as Instagram or magazine features.
If you stopped work you should have notified your liability insurers, and equally with returning to site it is imperative that you speak to your liability and professional indemnity insurers to check that cover is in place and appropriate.
When onsite inspections resume, ensure that any changed timelines that might affect appointments are shared.
Whether development finance or mortgage finance, check in with your lender to see if the financial circumstance in relation to you or your build have changed.
Mortgage lending has carried on throughout the crisis to date, but circumstances such as valuations and furloughed salaries may have an impact on some new lending agreements. Always check with your lender, broker or financial specialist, and ensure they have experience of custom and self build. The unwillingness of some parties to do site visits during the crisis has acted as a limiting factor on some activity, but NaCSBA believes such visits can be undertaken within best practice guidance or alternative remote approaches adopted.
The inability to do site visits during the crisis acted as a limiting factor on some activity, but with a return to work the backlog should start to get processed.
Small companies may also be eligible from the new 100% Government-backed scheme that offers ‘bounce back’ loans, of between £2,000 to £50,000 to get companies operating again.
You should update your work practices and update your processes for Health and Safety to follow the latest Health and Safety Executive and Site Operating Procedures (always check this is the latest version).
A clean and tidy site will reduce the risk of accidents, as hospital visits following an accident are a risk in themselves. However, if an accident does occur hospitals should not be avoided because of the risk if the injury is serious enough to warrant a visit.
You should conduct your own risk assessment and be sure that you are meeting the expectations for safe operation. If you are the site owner or as the main contractor the responsibility will sit with you for the safety of anyone on site, whether employees, visitors or family members. Limit all but necessary visits to site, too.
Safe distancing: Advice remains that workers (who are not from the same household) should maintain a two-metre distance, and where possible PPE should be worn. Any jobs that make this impossible, such as awkward lifting, should be carefully planned to minimise time for close working, and workers should be wearing PPE as a precaution. Safe distancing around deliveries should also be practised as standard.
PPE: The FMB has raised the issue around the lack of PPE for onsite work, and without it some jobs may not be able to be completed. Again, risk assessments for such jobs should be undertaken and the work delayed if it cannot be carried out safely without PPE.
Travel: Teams of workers should not be sharing transport (unless they are in the same household), with workers arriving independently and avoiding public transport where possible. The latest guide for returning to work, Our Plan to Rebuild, released 11 May, sets out the requirement to wear face coverings on public transport.
Staggered timings: Given the longer days, measures that can support safe working include staggered start times, lunches and breaks, with – where practical, multiple kitchen and toilet facilities. There should ideally be several washing points fully supplied with appropriate cleaning and sanitisers.
Government also announced that builders could agree more flexible site working hours with the local council to support the staggering of workers on site.
Set expectations: You should establish with your workforce in advance how this will work in practice on your site. The FMB recommends daily briefings (that reflect safe distance measures) with expectations around new work processes and practices. It may help to share this PDF guide.
A zero tolerance approach to lax behaviour should be practised, with a process put in place for notification of breaches and also for any workers starting to develop symptoms, with record keeping in place.
Cleaning: Hotspots should be regularly disinfected, with a person appointed to do this job and a log of cleaning. These include entry points, handles, equipment handles and controls, ladders, taps and toilets. Tools should not be shared and should be sanitised after use.
Clothing: clothing should be washed after use, ideally loaded directly into the washing machine by the user, if possible.
Shared equipment: tablets, devices, plans and anything that is shared represents a transmission risk and should be avoided.
The Coronavirus is a rich opportunity for scammers operating cyber crime and phishing scams, with worried people clicking on links to ensure they get the correct information.
As with all cyber crime, think before opening emails or attachments from unusual sources or addresses that don’t quite look right. If it is from your bank or another professional organisation and looks suspicious check its safe – by looking on the relevant website rather than following links.
The National Cyber Security Centre has advice on avoiding Phishing and other email scams and also on malware and ransomware attacks.
Other good sources of advice are the National Crime Agency and police forces, such as the Metropolitan Police.
If anyone develops symptoms you must follow protocol and ensure that work is stopped, safely, and secured. You must report anyone that develops symptoms at work to the HSE under RIDDOR, using the online guidance. A risk assessment should then be completed about the situation on site, and any workers isolating should follow guidelines.
Keep a log of all activity, including securely handled tracing information, and ensure that any consequences of delaying or halting work are relayed along the chain to all involved.
The Government in England has a 5-pillar strategy for coronavirus testing, that includes testing people who have coronavirus-like symptoms to assess whether or not they currently have the virus (so not an antibody test to see if they have had it). Construction workers are now included among the groups eligible for testing, to support the return to work.
In most cases with a self build or custom build, the owner and their family will not be in residence on site. However, if this not the case the Government has detailed guidance for precautions you should take for carrying out work inside people’s homes.
This is most likely to apply if homeowners in temporary accommodation on site look to move into a property before all work is completed, but all insurances should be checked before owners consider this as an option, and current Government advice remains for people not to move house if they can avoid it.
Yes, most are still operating planning services, but individual arrangements are in place for contact, either by phone, email or email for a call back. New legislation in England temporarily allows councils to hold committee meetings remotely, with the public able to access them remotely. Check the situation with regards to your authority’s attitude to site visits for planning and building control.
Check the latest status, but Scotland passed emergency legislation Scottish Parliament, with the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill. At the 6 May, all construction work apart from that deemed essential remains halted in Scotland, meaning there are no measures at time of writing for a phased return.
Planning, and many other areas, is devolved and Scotland is taking measures that echo those in the rest of the UK, but which are different. With regards to planning, Scotland’s Chief Planner published a Covid-19 update letter at the start of April and Scottish Government also has guidance for the construction industry. This differs from England as all non-essential construction work has ceased.
RTPI Scotland welcomed the legislation, especially as it means that planning permissions due to lapse in the emergency period will be extended.
Scottish Government has also announced an emergency loan fund for SME housebuilders of up to £1million to support them through Coronavirus crisis.
Wales has also issued guidance to planning authorities for the crisis, as well as guidance for housing and emergency permitted development rights.
In addition, it has released advice about maintaining physical distancing measures in the workplace as a core element in safe working, which can be enforced through fines. It also has an SME business support fund.
Northern Ireland’s Chief Planner also issued a letter with guidance, and PACWAC, the Planning Appeals Commission reopened its office with effect from the 11 May. The Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) has a useful blank risk assessment template that can be used to support decisions about returning to work.
The Irish Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government has created its own series of guidance and information for work practice during the crisis.
Government announced on 13 May that people could, once again, move house, provided they followed guidance on keeping safe. The announcement means that limited viewings can once again be conducted, although virtual sales are to be encouraged. Guidance includes advice for the various professions working in and servicing homes sales.
Importantly, the guidance also states: “It also applies to custom and self builders looking to acquire a plot or a property to renovate or to demolish.” Specifically, it also confirms that surveyors can visit plots to undertake valuations to support the release of stage payment mortgages, and also that inspectors can carry out warranty assessments, including for custom and self builds.
Many companies have retained some elements of their work online, so check with a company you are planning to work with. Services such as architects and package companies are often able to do online consultations, and may be able to do work on planning your project, design and pricing work without a face to face or site visit.