Grant Shapps: Your new year’s resolution should be to build your own home!

publication date: Jan 10, 2011
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

Grant Shapps: Your new year’s resolution should be to build your own home!

Houses - Self Build

Kate Faulkner, one of the UK’s top property commentators and Buildstore have been banging on about the benefits of self build for years. Kate has been saying for the last two years that “now is the time to self build” and finally the new Housing Minister Grant Shapps has called on “the country's aspiring self-builders to make a housebuilding revolution their New Year's resolution”.

According to, “self-builders are already Britain's largest housebuilder, and account for one-fifth of Britain's new homes each year”. Over 5 million people watch the fantastic Channel 4 show, Grand Designs and although the programme has resulted in a growth in ‘Sunfold doors’ and kitchen diners, it hasn’t increased the number of self builds in the UK as “ordinary people .....have been thwarted by barriers and red tape.”

Mr Shapps is now pledging to “enable aspiring self-builders to put building their own home”. Key initiatives include a 'Community Right to Build' which would allow “green light to new developments without the need for specific planning applications.”

Although Kate welcomes the initiative, the barriers are more to do with people’s belief that you have to spend £500,000 or more, and that you are expected to build a property yourself, rather than the government’s view that barriers to self build are: “a complex and bureaucratic planning system, regulatory burdens, and lack of access to land and finance.”

It is true that the planning system is complicated and often bespoke to the views of the local planning officer, but a good architect and project manager should help self builders through this minefield.

The lack of access to land can be reduced if people know where to look and Plotsearch offers a great way to find land and if people are willing to move to areas where land can be accessed. For example, budding self builders in London will find it difficult to buy land, but in places such as Peterborough, just 45 minutes from London’s Kings Cross, land is much more accessible and is reasonably priced.

Finance too is easier than most people think. The idea that you need to sell your own home and live in a caravan for six months to a year is completely outdated. BuildStore offer an Accelerator Mortgage that allows people to stay in their own home while they build and deposits of only 15% are required.

The good news says Kate, is that Grant Shapps is consulting the right people in the industry:-

"Building your own home should not be the preserve of a privileged few - I want to break down the barriers that many aspiring self-builders often come up against.  That's why I've asked experts at the National Self Build Association to work with us to develop an action plan to make it easier for people to build their own homes, whether on their own or as part of a community effort to build a whole new neighbourhood.”

However, just breaking down the physical barriers to self build won’t work, says Kate. “People need to be educated on how to carry to out property projects properly”. Currently we have media and stats that regularly tell people they can’t afford to buy a home, that prices are falling and much of this just isn’t true. With self build, Kate feels “it’s more to do with educating people that they can build if they use the right people, kits and/or builders” and “breaking down the barrier that the standard ‘self build property’ isn’t a ‘grand design’ it’s more of a three bed property that you could buy from a developer, just built to your requirements rather than theirs!”. 


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