What is custom and self build?

There are many ways to create a tailored owner-commissioned home – with the distinction being that some, or all of the home is designed and built to the owners choices. The Right To Build Task Force states that a self-build home is one built to the plans or specifications of the occupant on a single plot. A custom build home is built to the plans or specifications of the occupant on a multi-plot site actively managed by a third-party member. However, the models operate on a spectrum, so you will see a range of approaches around activity.

Self building typically occurs on a stand alone plot, and involves someone sourcing and buying land, designing and commissioning their home. Rarely, some choose a traditional DIY route where you manage the design and construction process and undertake a fair proportion of the actual building work too. However, most people self build by commissioning a developer to build to their design or by choosing a package route, also known as a system build or kit home. A turn-key home means that the commissioning process includes the complete build – you simply turn the key and start living in it at the end.

Custom Building is a way to commission your own home, but is always on a multi-plot site where your neighbours will be like-minded people who have also commissioned their home. There are numerous routes but it can be quicker and simpler, as the process of finding land, securing planning permission and installing services have all been taken care of. Some multi-plot sites will give you the freedom to commission the home you want, some may come with designs and / or developers pre-agreed. These sites use Design Codes and often Plot Passports to establish what can be built on each plot.

You work with others to acquire a site to split up into plots, then organise the design and construction of your own home. This will usually be supported by an enabler such as a specialist developer or housing association. Cohousing and Community Land Trusts are examples of community-led housing.

Everyone coming into Self-build for the first time will have questions – check here for answers to the most common questions.

And if your questions are about the Right to Build and the registers, visit our Right to Build Portal campaign page.