Self-Build Pipe Dream?
Anyone who has dreamed of building their own home will realise that it is not as simple as simply buying some land and putting up a house.
The buying of the land is often the first hurdle, and many would-be self-builders get no further than trying to source a building plot.
The government is trying to address this by relaxing planning regulations and by introducing the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Bill 2014-15.
While it is imperative to preserve the countryside and to maintain the character of many towns and villages in the UK, it does make sense to allow self-builders to exercise some creative talents and allow them to build something that is tailored to their needs, rather than being the cheapest ‘lowest common denominator’ type of building offered by the mass market builders.
Houses that are built by passionate people often become iconic buildings for future generations and, apologies to the big home construction companies, but their houses are not going to be inspirational to anyone in a hundred-years-time.
We are pleased to see that the Self-Build Bill is making its way through the legal process, having being passed through the House of Commons to the House of Lords last week.
Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Bill 2014-15
The bill was brought as a Private Members Bill by MP Richard Bacon, and you can follow updates on his website.
Following the success of his bill he commented:
“I am delighted that the House of Commons has agreed to the passage of my Bill. There is now a serious prospect of the Bill becoming law.”
The bill places a duty on local authorities to keep a record of any individuals or community groups who wish to buy land in order to either self-build or create a custom-build project. It further requires the local authorities to refer to this register of interests if and when they are developing their housing initiatives and local plans.
Where a self-builder wishes to construct affordable housing this bill would allow them, in partnership with a Registered Social Landlord such as a housing association, to take advantage of applications made by large volume domestic construction companies. In essence they would piggy-back onto their mass housing planning, which would have the dual advantage of boosting the self-build market and allowing local authorities to comply with their affordable housing obligations.
Large volume house builders may be pleased to hand over the obligation for building affordable housing to a community group or self-builder, and it may mean a more creative and even sustainable development of affordable housing in each housing development.
Last year the National Custom and Self Build Association (NACSBA) announced the winners of their self-build on a shoestring awards. The awards were looking for an organisation to design a development of twenty homes for a site in a city that can be at a build cost of less than £75,000 each. The winners, with their Shell design, were a collaboration between architect Levitt Bernstein, recently formed self-build community group, called Naked House, and housing provider Circle Housing.
It just goes to show what can be done when the right people are involved in creating homes for themselves and for small community groups.
Let’s hope the self-build bill flies through the House of Lords too.