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Custom and self-build homes to get scale-up boost

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Up to 40,000 new homes a year should be custom or self-built according to a government-commissioned review released on August 21st.

MP Richard Bacon’s House: How putting customers in charge can change everything offers a route map on how the UK can increase the 13,000 new homes a year built this way to three times this figure.

Prime minister Boris Johnson, who commissioned the analysis, said: “Self-build and custom housebuilding can play a crucial role in increasing choice for consumers and ensuring people can live in the homes that they want, and that are designed to meet their needs.”

House recommends setting up a new custom and self-build housing delivery unit to support the creation of serviced plots on small and large sites and delivery at scale.

It’s proposing making the planning process easier for custom and self-build developers by maximising opportunities for permissioned land across all tenures.

The Federation of Master Builders chief executive Brian Berry said access to viable small plots was one of the biggest constraints his members faced.

“I welcome the review’s focus on the supply of land and hope the government will recognise the support that local authorities need to help more SMEs to build.”

The review recommends promoting custom and self-build pilot schemes with a show park to raise awareness and develop understanding among potential customers.

National Custom and Self Build Association, NaCSBA, chief executive Andrew Baddeley-Chappell said: “We must also open the eyes of the public to the possibilities that are out there. Both these aspects require the leadership of the government to address the failures in our current market.”

Mr Bacon has said that embarking on a custom or self-build house should be no more difficult than ordering a new car.

“In practice, most customers have very little say. Indeed, for the very item on which customers spend the largest proportion of their incomes – their homes – they hold the least consumer power,” he said.

“There is a solution. It involves creating the conditions in which customers are treated as if they matter the most, rather than – for the most part – scarcely mattering at all. And this is what happens when people themselves commission the houses they would like to see.”

The review recommends “re-igniting” the community housing fund to provide homes at affordable local income levels. The government hopes its £150m funded equity loan scheme allowing people who want to design and build their own homes to borrow with lower deposits will be a game-changer.

The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government and Homes England will be looking at the review over the next few months to see how the recommendations can be put into practice.

Self-commissioned housing is more common overseas often accounting for a third of the total housing supply and in Germany, more than half of all new houses are delivered this way.

Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said property finance lenders were keen to offering construction loans to SMEs operating in this sector.

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BDC 317 : Jun 2024