self build blog

healthy homes – a guide – part 1

Our self build BLOG is about helping you find the information you need to undertake your self build with confidence. Please note that text in RED AND BOLD TYPE are links. Links that include a pop up TOOLTIP direct to definitions and descriptions of various terms as part of our self build GLOSSARY, organised alphabetically, and our self build DIRECTORY, organised by category. Both are searchable and include terms relating to; self build, eco homes, healthy homes, and smart homes. Other links direct to third party websites and some of these may be affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you click through and end up making a purchase.

Part 1: An introduction

This is the first in a series of planned blog posts in which we hope to explore the topic of healthy homes. In this introduction we define what a healthy home is and explain why self build represents a unique opportunity to build one. Subsequent posts will cover factors that can result in an unhealthy home, how to create a healthy home, our approach to designing and specifying our house type AUXANO as a healthy home, and measures that you can take to improve the home you’re living in right now.

What is a healthy home?

On average we spend about 65% of our time at home and this percentage is likely to grow as working from home (WFM) becomes more common. Many people however are unaware of how their homes affect their health and wellbeing, both positively and negatively. Our physical, mental, and social health and wellbeing are influenced by a combination of behaviour, genetic, and environmental factors and our homes as a significant part of our environment are a key contributor. It is fairly well established that poor quality housing has a direct correlation with poor health and wellbeing and the inverse is just as true. Design and specification features within homes such as effective ventilation and good daylight levels can have hugely positive effects. A healthy home can therefore be defined as “a home that facilitates that good health and wellbeing of its occupants”. The below infographic from a report on HEALTH AND WELLBEING IN HOMES by the UK GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL (UKGBC) describes aspects of a healthy home.

Infographic developed for UK-GBC by PRP

Self build: an opportunity to build better

This blog is about self build, the benefits of self build, and how to self build. With self build you are investing in your own future and that of your family. One of the greatest motivations for building your own home is the opportunity to create a home that meets your needs and those of your loved ones. An understanding therefore that the homes we live in affect our health and wellbeing is not inconsequential. When designing, specifying, constructing, and furnishing a new home, it is important to be aware that the decisions we make; from the sizing and positioning of windows; to the materials we select; and even the things that we put in our homes can all affected the quality of; the air we breathe; the water we drink and bathe in; even how well we sleep and how we feel; and not just for a moment in time but for the duration of our occupation of that home. When we buy food products, we can now carefully read the list of ingredients and make judgements for ourselves with respect to the possible effects on our health, but no such ingredient list is provided when you buy a new home. As we will document in this series of blog posts, wrong ingredients and wrong decisions can be very damaging and ultimately even fatal, and therefore the opportunity to take such decisions into your own hands is huge. Self build is an “opportunity to build better” and not just in terms of spatial qualities and energy performance, but also with respect to the quality of indoor air, water, light, and more. Furthermore, while measures can be taken to mitigate negative health effects of existing properties, with a self build you have the chance to “build healthy” from the start. And we don’t just mean a home that is not unhealthy, for example a home that has low levels of indoor air pollution, but also a home that actually enhances our health and wellbeing. For example, studies have shown that improving air quality can improve productivity, while others have shown that a connection to nature can reduce stress.

smart homes – a guide

Our self build BLOG is about helping you find the information you need to undertake your self build with confidence. Please note that text in RED AND BOLD TYPE are links. Links that include a pop up TOOLTIP direct to definitions and descriptions of various terms as part of our self build GLOSSARY, organised alphabetically, and our self build DIRECTORY, organised by category. Both are searchable and include terms relating to; self build, eco homes, healthy homes, and smart homes. Other links direct to third party websites and some of these may be affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you click through and end up making a purchase.

A guide to specifying a smart home

Are you planning to build your own home? Have you considered making it a smart? In this blog post we define what a smart home is and discuss the benefits. We also provide an overview the market and guidance on the key decisions to make when specifying a smart home system. For example; whether to opt for the DIY or professional route; and whether to specify wired or wireless products. We also explain the thought process that led us to specify a fully integrated LOXONE smart home system for our house type AUXANO. At the bottom of the post there is also a smart home directory with products listed according to the main product categories.

What is a smart home?

The question, “what is a smart home?”, might seem like a fairly straight-forward one, however as it turns out the answer it is not quite so simple as there are different conceptions about what a smart home is. In the broadest terms, a “smart home” is a home equipped with smart devices that enable the remote or automatic monitoring and control of home appliances and systems. While some definitions stress the ability to remotely control smart home devices from anywhere with an internet connection, others highlight the ability of smart home systems to automate tasks that would otherwise be done by humans. The term “smart” itself is based on the idea that “dumb” objects can be made “smart” by connecting them to a computer network, thereby enabling data to be collected about their use and for these devices to be controlled via that network. Examples of smart devices include; smartphones and smartwatches, and now in recent years smart devices within the home such as; smart speakers that you can talk to and smart thermostats that help you more easily control your heating system. There is also the idea that these smart devices can “talk” to one another, to enable, for example, the smart lights in your hallway to turn on automatically when you open your front door with your smart door lock.

What are the benefits of a smart home?

The benefits of a smart home are clear to see with the greater convenience and efficiency that come from the streamlining and automating of common household tasks. For example, numerous and repetitive routine tasks such as turning off lights and shutting blinds can be aggregated with the incorporation of a single all-off switch. Such as switch can located beside your front door or at your bedside so you can turn off all the lights and shut all the blinds in the whole house when you go out or to bed. Smart thermostats combined with smart thermostatic radiator values (STRVs) enable more nuanced control of heating within individual rooms. For example, if you knew that you were only coming home at night and going straight to bed, you could just switch on the heating in your bedroom for an hour rather than heating up the whole house unnecessarily. Features such as these not only save time but also save energy and reduce running costs.

smart home all-off button

DIY or professional?

The first key decision in specifying a smart home is whether to opt for DIY or professional set up. DIY smart home products such as the likes of; NEST security devices, RING video doorbells, and PHILIPS HUE lighting are typically wireless plug-and-play devices that can be purchased off-the-shelf and you can installed them yourself. Professional systems such as; CONTROL4, CRESTON, SAVANT, and LOXONE are designed and installed by specialists and are typically predominately hard-wired. These two routes to creating a smart home represent two competing sides of the market that have been developing side by side and there are proponents of each.

DIY smart home products

Initially we assumed that the DIY route would be best suited to self-build projects because its more hands on and we didn’t like the idea of being locked into the technology of a single supplier. Our consideration was that we would want to pick and choose the best products on the market for each of the product categories and that these would likely consist primarily of devices made by the big tech giants along with other well-known smart home brands. Ideally these devices would be linked together in such a way that they could all be controlled with a single app or smart speaker.

Having carried out further research however we came to understand that the smart home market is not only divided into the DIY and professional sub-markets, but even within the DIY market there is fragmentation with different companies and products utilising different wireless communication protocols. While some wireless devices use Wi-fi which almost all of us have in our homes, others utilize Bluetooth, Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Thread to name just a few. Each protocol has its own advantages and disadvantages, and again there are proponents of each, but the problem with all these differing technologies is compatibility. Without getting too technical, these protocols are like languages and for devices to talk to one another they have to speak the same language. While there are suggestions about developing or enforcing a universal communication protocol, the most common approach to resolving these issues are the use of smart home hubs which effectively function to translate and mediate between devices.

While these devices do largely solve the problem, with the quantity of devices on the market, there is no hub that is compatible with everything. SAMSUNG SMARTTHINGS HUB has probably the widest range of compatibility as it works with Wi-fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, and Z-Wave but still not devices that use the ‘Thread’ protocol such as with GOOGLE NEST devices. Hub manufacturers typically maintain a list of compatible devices and all DIY smart home products are marketed with “works with” badges or descriptions to highlight which hubs they work with. In summary, it is normally possible to find a work around to connect smart home devices that are not compatible but it is plausible that you could end up with multiple hubs and multiple apps to control the smart devices in your home.

Professional smart home systems

When we turned our attention to the professional offering, we found that the unique selling point of such systems is that they are “whole-home” systems, meaning that all the smart devices in a home can be operated from a single app, whether that be via a smartphone, a handheld remote controller, a smart speaker, or completely in the background by sensors and automation. CONTROL4, for example, promotes that fact that they have “one app for the entire house”, and CRESTON describes itself as “a complete smart home system”. Hence, despite our initial reservations it was this point that caused us to tack toward specifying a professional smart home system that could deliver a complete whole-home all-in-one smart home solution with seamless integration and control of smart home devices. It also became apparent that while wireless plug-and-play devices are ideal for retrofit in existing properties, hard-wired devices are more reliable and with a new build, whether self build or otherwise, you have a unique opportunity to install cabling.

Why we specified a LOXONE smart home system

When it came to choosing between the various professional systems on the market, the key factor that led us choose LOXONE for our house type AUXANO was that is it “cloud-free”. While there is a growing trend towards greater connectivity, and most smart home devices and systems have been developed with a view to creating a connected home, LOXONE has taken a different approach, instead choosing to make their system “cloud-free”. Our homes are fundamentally private spaces and with growing concerns regarding the right to privacy and the collection and commercial use of personal data, the “cloud-free” approach had a unique appeal. Data about how you use your home such as the when you wake up and go to bed is key to the functioning of a smart home, but this is sensitive information. While most other smart home products and systems collect, store, and analyse data in the cloud, in a LOXONE smart home all your data stays within the home on your LOXONE MINISERVER, the “brain” and “central nervous system” of your smart home. And while the system can be monitored and controlled via an app, the functioning of the system does not require internet connection to work. Most of the devices are controlled via touch switches, and sensors and automation do the rest. LOXONE says that “a smart home with Loxone simply knows what to do”, and this is actually another aspect of the LOXONE system that we really like. While there are many smart home gadgets on the market which are gimmicks or just require too much interaction with technology, the founders of LOXONE present the notion that technology should not be overbearing or dominant in the home but should instead work quietly in the background, almost without you knowing it is there.

Which system is right for you?

This really depends on you and your project. Whether you project is a new build or a renovation for example may effect whether you opt for wired or wireless set up. As discussed above, while a new build presents an ideal opportunity to install physical wires within walls, opting for wireless products may be more practical in a renovation project, and decisions such as these may well lead naturally to other decisions. While we cannot* make these decisions for you, we hope that by describing our decision making process above, this will act a road map for your own decision making.

*unless you choose to build our house type AUXANO in which case we have done all the hard work for you.

Loxone Miniserver

SMART HOME DIRECTORY

Smart Home Hubs

  • SAMSUNG SMARTTHINGS HUB 3 dedicated smart home hub – works with: Wifi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, and Z-Wave devices.
  • WINK HUB 2 dedicated smart home hub – works with: Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave, Kiddle, and Clear Connect devices.
  • LOGITECH HARMONY HUB dedicated smart home hub – works with: Zigbee and Z-Wave devices.
  • AMAZON ECHO 4TH GENERATION smart speaker with built-in Zigbee smart home hub – works with: Wifi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee devices.
  • AMAZON ECHO STUDIO high-fidelity smart speaker with built-in Zigbee smart home hub – works with: Wifi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee devices.
  • AMAZON ECHO SHOW smart display with built-in Zigbee smart home hub – works with: Wifi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee devices.
  • AMAZON ECHO SHOW 10 smart display with motion and built-in Zigbee smart home hub – works with: Wifi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee devices.
  • APPLE TV digital media player with a built-in Apple Homekit Hub- works with: Apple Homekit devices.
  • APPLE HOMEPOD high-fidelity smart speaker with built-in smart home hub – works with: Wifi, Bluetooth, and Apple Homekit devices.
  • APPLE HOMEPOD MINI  smart speaker with built-in smart home hub – works with: Wifi, Bluetooth, and Apple Homekit devices.
  • GOOGLE NEST HUB MAX smart display with built-in thread smart home hub – works with: Wifi, Bluetooth, and Thread devices.

Smart Access Control

Smart Home Security

Smart Lighting and Lighting Control

Smart Heating

Professional Smart Home Systems

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.

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 1.5.2.6 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”.

what is self build

1.1 what is self build

1.1.1 dictionary definitions of self build from Collins Dictionary

1. the practice of building one’s own home (noun)
2. a house that one has built oneself (noun)
3. built by the occupant or involving building by the occupant (adjective)
4. to build a home for one’s own use (verb)

1.1.2 the legal definition as defined in the self build act 2015

the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 (as amended by the Housing and Planning Act 2016) provides a legal definition of self build and custom housebuilding. The Act does not distinguish between self build and custom housebuilding and provides that both are where:

‘individuals or an association of individuals, or persons working with or for them, build or complete houses to be occupied as homes by those individuals.’

the government goes on to say that in considering whether a home is a self build or custom build home, relevant authorities must be satisfied that the initial owner of the home will have primary input into its final design and layout.

1.1.3 what is custom build?

well during a debate in parliament back in October 2014, the housing minister at the time, Brandon Lewis, said:

‘the definition of self build covers someone who directly organises the design and construction of their new home, while custom build covers someone who commissions a specialist developer to help to deliver their own home.’

while the use of two terms makes a distinction between custom build and self build, the former could be said to be a type of self build, with self build being a broader, more encompassing terms, and custom build being narrower, more specific term.

1.1.4 what is collective custom build?

the government’s definition of self build and custom housebuilding also alludes to another type of self build – that by an association of individuals. this type of self build has referred to as collective custom build, a form of self build where groups of people come together in order to provide their own homes collectively or as part of a multi-unit site. some view this form of self build as the most viable way to scale up self-provided housing as a mainstream procurement route of new build housing in the UK. The term ‘self-provided housing’ is another perhaps more generic and appropriate term that encompasses all forms of self build.

1.1.5 our definition of self build

to self build therefore doesn’t necessarily mean physically building your own home. rather self-build is more broadly understood to mean that you have some involvement in the building of your own home. furthermore, there are different types of self build with varying levels of involvement and also the possible possibility of self building with others.

right to build day

what is the right to build?

historically, the difficulty of finding a suitable plot of land has been one of the biggest hurdles to building your own home. the so called ‘right to build’ is changing this. two recent pieces of legislation have established a ‘right to build’ your own home in England (see lower down if you live in Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland). the Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 (which came into force in April 2016) placed a legal duty on all local authorities in England to keep a register of individuals and associations of individuals who are seeking to acquire serviced plots of land in the authority’s area in order to build houses for those individuals to occupy as homes. the Housing and Planning Act 2016 (which came into force in October 2016) reinforced the self build act by requiring local authorities to make “serviced plots” of land available to those who have expressed an interest in building their own homes within three years of the demand being registered.

serviced plots

the government defines “serviced plots” as plots of land that have access to a public highway and have connections for electricity, water and waste water, or can be provided with those things in specified circumstances or within a specified period. in other words, a serviced plot is a plot of land that is ready to build on. furthermore, serviced plots sold by or in association with local authorities typically come with outline planning consent. the largest example of such a development in the UK is at Graven Hill in Bicester (near Oxford) which has about 1900 plots. having received a local development order from the local council, Graven Hill offers serviced plots with plot passports setting out the details of the plot and various parameters agreed with the council for building on that plot. it is likely that this model (or similar) will be adopted by other local authorities elsewhere in the country. 

self build registers

since the self build act 2015 came into force, the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) has periodically issued freedom of information requests to all councils in England in order to take stock of registered demand. by the close of the first base period on October 31st October 2016 (the first six months) 18,000 people had already registered, by a year later the number was 33,000 and the most recent report is that 40,000 people have registered to date. If you have not yet signed up, why not register now? rather than searching for your local authority’s register directly, we recommend that you use the Right to Build Portal (operated by the NaCABA) as after you log in and enter your postcode, the portal displays the local authorities nearest to you and some useful information such as the number of people already on the register and the number of serviced plots already consented. doing this will give you a good idea how engaged your local authority is with respect to your right to build. the portal will also provide a link direct to your local authority’s self build registration page. note that you typically need to have a local connection (meaning that you live, work, or have some other connection to the area) in order to sign up to a local authority’s self build register.

right to build day

Right to Build Day on 30th October 2019, marks the date when all 336 planning authorities in England must demonstrate for the first time that they have complied with the legislation to deliver the 18,000 permission plots needed to match the number on their self build registers three years prior on 30th October 2016. thus, right to build day should bring to light the effectiveness of the right to build legislation to date.

key outcomes 

in our estimation, the right to build legislation has the potential to:

  • alleviates the problem of land availability as self build plots should become more easily obtainable.
  • de-risk the planning process by bringing forth plots with outline planning.
  • facilitate the creation of communities by grouping together those who aspire to build their own home – potentially opening up opportunities for collective custom build.
  • reduce the cost of building in comparison to stand-alone builds due to the economies of scale brought about by the collective provision of utility services.

self build in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland

since housing is devolved issue, the self build legislation brought in by the UK government applies only to England. the approaches taken by the devolved administrations differs.

  • Wales – in January 2019 , the Welsh Government announced Self Build Wales, a new £210 million self build scheme that will see local authorities and housing associations bring forth serviced plots for self build. the scheme will offer loans to self builders for up to 75% of the plot cost and which will be repayment free until the new home is completed and mortgaged. a new Self Build Wales website, operated by the Development Back of Wales, will list the plot opportunities available. this initiative is the first significant step in making self build more accessible and viable in Wales.
  • Scotland – back in 2011 , the Scottish Government published a policy paper entitled ‘Homes Fit for the 21st Century’ which promised a self build initiative for Scotland.  The development of such an initiative though has been slow, apart from various pilot schemes operated by various local authorities such as Glasgow City Council and Highland Council. In September 2018, a new £4 million self build loan fund was launched offering loans of up to £175,000 to help with construction fees for self build projects – although this is only available to applicants who can prove that they are unable to access standard bank lending. Furthermore, the fund will only run for 3 years from 1st September 2018 to 31st August 2021.
  • Northern Ireland – self build is somewhat of a cultural tradition in Northern Ireland, particularly in rural areas where there has historically been presumption in favour of building even in open countryside, with a peak of 7,000 permission for single new dwellings in 2003. as of 2006, more development controls have placed on rural regions with a view to protecting the character and openness of the countryside. this has reduced the amount of development, with approximately 1,075 self build completions in 2016. this is still equivalent to just over 16% of all new housing, meaning that Northern Ireland can boast the largest self build and custom housebuilding market in the UK relative to the size of the population. if this level of self build per capita were extrapolated to the whole of the UK, the sector would deliver over 37,000 new homes per year.

 

 

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