Self building is an alternative to the traditional model of house building in the UK. Traditionally, houses are built speculatively by a developer, and then people buy them and move in. Self builders instigates the development of the home themselves, whether by purchasing a kit house, working with a developed (sometimes referred to as ‘custom build’), employing consultants (such as an architect) and a contractor, or managing the entire process and ordering all the goods and services required themselves.
The custom and self-build industry in the UK only accounts for around 10,000 new homes every year (2015). This compares very unfavourably with other EU countries. In Austria for example, more than 80% of new homes are self built.
The average self-build project in the UK takes 2 years. However, self-build projects on ‘serviced plots’ can take just one year.
The government’s Custom Build Serviced Plots Loan Fund leaflet defines serviced plots as ‘…shovel ready sites with planning permission, where plots or parcels of land are laid out and ready for construction. Access is provided and each plot or parcel of land has utilities/services provided within its boundary.’
This means that builders can go straight onto the site and begin construction.
On 12 March 2015, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis announced the next phase of a £150 million fund open to small builders and community groups as short-term loans to help get the land ready for housebuilding. The land can then be sold as individual serviced plots to people looking to build their own home. Ref Gov.uk, A multi-million pound fund will help aspiring custom builders get their projects off the ground more quickly.
In addition, the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 brings forward the ‘right to build’ by placing a duty on councils to maintain a register of people who are looking to buy serviced plot land to build their own homes. The act states, rather vaguely that a serviced plot of land ‘…means a plot of land which satisfies such requirements about utilities and other matters as may be specified’.
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