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why self build

1.3 why self build

1.3.1 pull factors and push factors

when considering whether to self build, or perhaps, whether self build is for you, there are various push factors (motivations for self build) and pull factors (benefits of self build) that you may want to consider.

1.3.2 a lack of good alternatives

in our option (one shared by 75% of home buyers), the majority of new building housing in the UK is not only poor quality but is also generic, uninspiring, and outdated. why is this? well the majority of new build housing is built by large speculative housing developers. in fact, about two-thirds of housing completions are built by only the ten largest housebuilders. numerous government reports have made the assessment that this lack of competition has resulted in poor productivity and a lack of innovation in the industry. you only have to look at the appearance of most of the housing built to see what we mean. they all look the same. on the outskirts of practically every town and city up and down the country there are identikit housing development that are; traditional in style, of brick construction, with uPVC windows, and pitched roofs. the above observations are reflected in buyer attitudes towards new build housing. a report published by the RIBA Future Homes Commission in 2011 reported that 75% of UK home buyers wouldn’t buy a new build home. we rest our case.

1.3.3 value for money

the speculative business model adopted by most housebuilders favours the production of short-term exchange-values (i.e. house prices) rather than long-term use-values (i.e. the quality of those homes as places to live in), as their priorities lie in dividends for their shareholders rather than the quality of life of their customers. what’s worse is that the problem gets worse over time. while house prices (exchange-values) have rocketed over the past decades, use-values have remained virtually the same, and thus value for money has decreased significant over time. the size of the homes built is a good example. with an average floor area of 76m2, we build on average the smallest houses in Europe, and yet they are still sold for absurdly high prices. in contrast, self build is a form of housing procurement that by its very nature prioritised the creation of long-term use values over short-term exchange values because the end users have a stake in the quality of the homes build as places to live in.

1.3.4 unmet needs and wants

we have also made the observation that there is an insufficient variety of homes being built. most speculative housing developments typically consist of three or four bed homes designed with the traditional nuclear family in mind and apartment blocks of one and two bedroom flats for first time buyers. we believe these house types do not cater for large segments of the market which is far more varied that it was decades ago as households compositions have changed. there is now a diversity of households including; single-person households (29%), single parent households (11%), and multi-generational households (7%). perhaps you have found yourself in a house that does not meet your needs. perhaps you have looked on the open market and you are struggling to find anything else that ticks you boxes. perhaps you have a disability or need a home that can accommodate multiple generations of your family.  if this is you, we gently suggest that self build might be for you.

1.3.5 better quality of life

we passionately believe that well-designed buildings can improve our quality of life, and that the quality of our housing, as the most basic of building typologies, has the most direct impact our quality of life – for better or worse.

1.3.6 opportunity to build something unique and bespoke to you

this is the pull factor that is widely promoted by advocates of self build and it is true. you can build whatever you like and we have all enjoyed episodes of Grand Designs where adventurous souls have built all manner of unique and sometime peculiar homes including; a real cave home, a converted water tower, a house boat, and a restored castle. that being said, we actually don’t think that being unique is the most relevant reason to self build and we would probably put this bottom of this list of reasons to self build.

1.3.7 opportunity to build better

we are passionate about the opportunity to better homes and would certainly put this reason close to the top of the list. over the past decades, a number of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) have been developed that offer superior performance when compared to traditional construction. these typically utilise at least an element of prefabrication to achieve faster more efficient construction, and higher standards of quality management, as well as more sustainable and eco-friendly homes which also boast low energy bills for end-users. in the last few years, there has also been rapid growth of a new tech based sector developing smart home technologies from smart door locks to smart thermostats and security systems. these systems not only change the way we interact with our homes but also enable greater efficiencies such as being able to turn off the house at night. there is also a growing awareness regarding the need to specify healthy homes by paying careful attention to how products that make up a home affect indoor air quality and the health of occupants. there is lots more than can be said here and these opportunities will be discussed in greater depth later.

1.3.8 profitable

self build can be not only a cost effective option but can also be very profitable. With no or low stamp duty, no VAT on the build cost, and no developer profit – the total cost of self builds are typically up to 30% lower than the end market value. You typically have to live in the house for 3 years after completion otherwise you are classed as a developer and need to pay a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). further details will be provided in section 1.6.

1.3.9 become part of the largest housebuilder in the UK

self build and custom build represent the democratization of housebuilding. statistic show that in the financial year 2016-2017 the self build and custom housebuilding sector delivered 12,950 new homes, making it the UK’s fourth largest housebuilder at the time behind Barratt (17,319), Persimmon (15,171) and Tayor Wimpey (14,112). The sector has been growing at a rate of 6.25% annually and with the added impetus of the recent self build legislation, the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) has forecast that the sector could reach 20,000 new homes by 2021. this could potentially make the sector the largest housebuilder in the UK.

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