self build blog

who can self build

1.2 who can self build

1.2.1 available to the many, not just the few

while the TV show Grand Designs has been fantastic in that it has popularised self build, our observation is that it has also proliferated an idea that self build is only for the wealthy and the adventurous. this is a concept that we at protaHOMES want to combat as we strongly believe that self build can be and should be more widely accessible. the chair of the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA), Michael Holmes, said that self build should be:

“a choice available to the many, and not just the few

1.2.2 wealth

on the wealth point, we are not saying that a wealth imbalance does not exist, because the statistics show that the majority of self builds are funded by savings alone or by significant equity in existing homes. clearly having lots of money helps, but it is possible for those without access to significant capital of their own to self build with financing. if this is your case, you will typical need at least 5% of the build cost for a deposit and a fairly decent household income.

1.2.3 income

statistics show that the average (median) household income for self builders is £50-59,000 (i.e. within the top 20% of the population by household income), however there are ranges of income levels. 30% have household incomes below £40,000 but a many in this income bracket are retirees with fairly significant accumulations of wealth in either savings or housing equity. furthermore, there is some variation when it comes to the type of self builder. the average household income of a DIY self builder is £47,261, while the average household income of a self builder using a main contractor is £102,242.

1.2.4 age

statistics show that the majority of self builders are older. The age band with the most self builders is the late 40s. the age band with the highest proportion of self builders is late 50s to the early 60s.  the average (mean) age is 51 years old. Less than 5% of self builders are in their 20s.

1.2.5 first time buyers

while there are significant barriers to entry, self build is an option for first time buyers. with younger self builders typically being more reliant on borrowing, the size of the deposit required is the first hurdle. deposits for self build projects are typically higher than one would need for the purchase of starter homes, because while the latter are typically flats within apartment buildings, most self builds (91%) are detached houses. having made this observation, this does not mean that this is the way it has to be. there are a number of approaches that first time buyers who want to self build can take and these approached may well make self build a more feasible option that buying a property on the open housing market. consider building smaller, thereby reducing the build cost and in turn the size of the deposit required. consider collective custom build, perhaps banding together with some friends to commission the building of your own apartment building. consider doing some or all of the building work yourself to reduce the costs self building. there are lots of options and first time buyers should not be put off by apparent hurdles.

1.2.6 active third agers

we have also observed that there is a significant market for homes specifically designed for active-third agers, those approaching and/or of retirement age who are still physically and mentally active, and who also often have significant capital as the outright owners of 4 or 5 bedroom family homes that are too large for them now that their children have all left home. while downsizing and perhaps upgrading is an attractive proposition, the speculative housebuilding industry does not sufficiently serve this demographic. this leaves self build as a very compelling option with the scope to create a bespoke home that not only meets your needs in the short term but can also be future proofed to meet your needs in the long-run.

1.2.7 serial self builders

one special category of self builder are those who don’t only undertake the feat once, but perhaps after building the first self build, decide that they so enjoyed the process that they want to do it all over again. Sometime referred to as ‘serial self builders’ some of these do so in order that they can end up mortgage free after 3 or 4 self builds, while others undertake the challenge essentially as small developers – meaning they make a living from self building.

1.2.8 groups

you don’t have to build on your own. instead you can build as part of a group. as defined in 1.1.4, self building in a group is referred to as “collective custom build”. please refer to for further information.

1.2.9 couples

statistics show that 90% of self builders do so as a couple. being in relationship with two decent incomes combined offers greater access to self build mortgages due to the constraints of affordability calculators. in addition to this, the mutual support from build as a couple should not be under-estimated. As the saying goes “one will chase a thousand, two will chase ten thousand”.

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