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UK consumers behind Europe on self-build

Self build, or "Custom Build" as the Government has called the sector, takes a number of forms including individuals building their own homes, kit or packaged homes, developer-built one-off houses and independent community collaboration where a group of self-builders buy a larger plot of land.

It is estimated that the sector accounted for two of every three one-off homes built in 2010/11, adding as many new homes annually as any of the major house builders.

While the numbers may sound large, the UK lags well behind other countries. In Austria for example around 80% of all new homes are self built and in France and Germany the equivalent figure is circa 60%.

The UK Government has committed in its housing strategy for England to work with industry to double this sector over the next ten years, adding 100,000 homes to help fill the housing gap and support up to 50,000 jobs directly and indirectly per year – taking self-build mainstream.

Mutual lenders are leading the way in providing mortgages for those who want to build their own homes, with 20-plus building societies already providing this kind of mortgage finance.

Housing Minister, Grant Shapps MP said: "Self builders built more homes last year than many of the major developers in this country. But I want to see more of this, see the industry fulfil its potential and double in size to ensure anyone wanting to build their own home has access to the help and information they need.

"And with as many as 100,000 aspiring self-builders looking for suitable plots, this presents an amazing business opportunity, not least for lenders. That’s why I’m today backing the Building Societies Association’s new toolkit and urging lenders to do what they can to back this growing industry.

"With the numbers of mortgages for self-build set to increase by a massive 141%, I will be watching with interest to see how further support from lending companies can help spur on this self-build revolution whose time has most definitely come."

BSA Head of Mortgage Policy, Paul Broadhead, said: "Many building societies began life by helping local people fund the building of their homes, so self-build fits well with the mutual lending model. We hope that the lender toolkit will help to promote this more innovative area of lending to more providers.

"The consumer demand is there and the need for additional housing is evident. On top of this the Government has committed to maximise access for self-builders to land which is being released as part of its accelerated land-disposals programme and to require local authorities to take positive steps to facilitate this form of building. The barriers to self-build are steadily coming down."

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  1. We agree with the sentiments expressed in your article. The reality is that there is huge scope for builders to involve themselves in one-off self-build projects, which could be an increasing source of revenue for the industry. However, the bottom line is that the lending institutions will need to support these types of scheme a lot better than they have supported conventional borrowing to fund house purchases in the recent past.