DCLG select committee report supports self-build

The Communities and Local Government Committee has released a report in which it examines ways to fix the ‘broken housing market’ including a focus on obstacles in the self-build sector.

In the report ‘Capacity in the homebuilding industry the committee champions custom- and self-build homes, saying an approach seen in the Netherlands – where people self-commission homes on publicly owned land – should be considered in the UK.

Chair of the National Custom & Self Build Association (NaCSBA), Michael Holmes commented on the report: “We welcome the report’s call for more action on growing the custom and self-build market. The Homebuilding & Renovating Show and NaCSBA’s stance on this has been consistently highlighted during NaCSBA’s representations to Government and to the DCLG select committee, and the report released positively reflects our position.”

The committee discussed how large developers dominate the housebuilding market and stated that it welcomes diversification. Holmes reinforced this notion: “Custom- and self-build has the potential to deliver 40-50,000 new homes a year in England by 2030, extending choice, affordability, sustainability and diversity of supply. But this will only happen with continued government support to establish owner commissioned housing as a mainstream alternative model of delivery.”

The committee sees a number of obstacles currently restricting growth of the self- and custom-build sector, with funding being one of the biggest hurdles. “If you can’t afford a significant deposit, you are probably excluded from the custom and self-build sector,” said Holmes. “Another significant development is that the committee is requesting an update on solutions for accessing finance within 12 months.”

Holmes added that “those wanting to buy a custom-build home find they need a minimum of £30-40,000 to be able to put down the deposit on a serviced plot, commission a design and commence building, using a stage payment mortgage.” Therefore, in addition to the committee’s request for an update on accessing finance solutions, “the sector would like to see the extension of the Help to Buy Equity Loan Scheme to include custom-build homes,” Holmes explained. “This would offer a 20 per cent equity loan from the Government (40 per cent in London) to help people to build their own individual home through custom-build.” Help to Buy schemes have already been successful in increasing the number of new home sales by volume housebuilders.

Another one of the biggest challenges faced by prospective self-builders is accessing land – something that NaCSBA is intent on changing. Holmes said: “figures released by NaCSBA can provide evidence of unmet demand for people who want to custom or self-build. It highlights that in other developed countries, around half of the homes built are custom- or self-build, and that 53 per cent of the UK population would like to build or commission their own home at some time in their lives – 14 per cent of those in the next 12 months – but only around 10,000 succeed.”

As well as the recent Right to Build legislation and NaCSBA’s Right to Build Task Force supporting the freeing up of land, Holmes explained how the Homebuilding & Renovating Shows are helping. “Visitors who are at the start of their property ventures will be advised by experts on their legal rights and guided on how to find and apply for a plot of land, a step which will influence significantly the pace of their projects.”