Last edited 26 Apr 2021

Custom build homes

Traditionally in the UK, houses are built speculatively by a developer, and then people buy them and move in. The home owner does not influence the design of the home.

However, there are two routes by which clients can procure a home to their own design:

Self-build homes are those in which the prospective home owner organises the design and construction of their new home themselves. This can range from expert self builders who may, to a large extent, be able to design and construct their home themselves, through to the more conventional route of appointing designers and a contractor to design and build the home for them. There are a wide range of possibilities in between, and self build also includes kit homes and community-led projects. See self build for more information.

Custom-build homes on the other hand are a less 'hands-on' variation in which the prospective home owner works with a developer that can take on the design and construction of the home on their behalf and may help find and acquire a site and arrange finance. Developers may also offer serviced plots within sites that they have already purchased and may offer a range of design options from which the client can select their preferred solutions.

Whilst the scope for personalising the home may sometimes be slightly reduced by selecting a custom-build rather than self-build option, and costs may sometimes appear to be higher (although in the long-run, as the project is likely to be better controlled, the final price may actually be lower), the organisational burden is very much reduced, and there is less risk, less stress, and less potential for problems to arise.

On 12 March 2015, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis announced that the next phase of a £150 million fund to create up to 10,000 serviced plots (land prepared for housebuilding, and connected to utilities such as gas and water) for custom-builders. The fund is open to small builders and community groups as short-term loans to create serviced plots, which can then be sold as individual plots to people looking to build their own home. Ref, Government fund to support thousands more custom builders, 12 March 2015.

In the Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015, the government announced it would increase initiatives to support the sector, with £350 million additional funding.

On 9 December 2015, Brandon Lewis announced a new development of 122 homes at Park Prewett, part of a major new housing development in Basingstoke, had been selected as a national pilot for large-scale custom build. Lewis said, "The Park Prewett pilot is a fantastic example of our commitment to double the number of custom build and self build homes by 2020 – so anyone who wishes to design their dream house can do so."

From 1 April 2016, local authorities will be required to keep a register of aspiring self and custom house builders when planning for future housing and land use. See Self build and custom housebuilding registers.

In July 2017, Homebuilding and Renovating reported that the self build and custom build market in the UK had recorded its third consecutive annual rise, growing at 6.25 per cent year on year, and predicted to reach 16,500 home completions by 2020.

In April 2021, the government launched a £150 million Help to Build Initiative, providing an equity loan on completed homes, similar to the Help to Buy scheme, so that self and custom home building can become a realistic option to get onto the housing ladder through lower deposit mortgages. For more information see: Help to Build.

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