Self-build and custom build housing sector

A Commons Library Standard Note, providing background information on self build and published along side another Standard Note on the The Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Bill 2014-15.

Self-build and custom build both provide routes into home ownership for individuals and groups who want to play a role in developing their own homes.

In Laying the foundations: a housing strategy for England (2011), the Government set out plans to enable more people to build or commission their own home - there is an aspiration to double the size of the self-build market, creating up to 100,000 additional self-build homes over the next decade. Various measures have been introduced to ease the path for those wanting to build their own home including (repayable) funding; an exemption from the Community Infrastructure Levy; amendments to planning guidance; and improved access to public sector land. The Government is currently piloting a Right to Build in 11 local authority/National Park Authority areas.

The UK has a much lower rate of self-building than other European countries. The sector currently accounts for between 7-10% of completions while in Austria it accounts for around 80%. There is some evidence to suggest that there may be significant unmet demand for self-build in the UK. A survey commissioned by the Building Societies Association (BSA), published in October 2011, suggested that 53 per cent of people in the UK would consider building their own home given the opportunity.

On 12 June 2014 Richard Bacon secured fourth place in the Private Members’ Bill ballot. He presented the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Bill on 2 July; the debate on Second Reading is scheduled to take place on 24 October. The Bill has the support of the Government. It builds on existing Government initiatives, particularly the proposed ‘Right to Build’, with the aim of increasing the number of self/custom built properties in England and Wales. Detailed information on the Bill’s provisions can be found in Library note SN06998 The Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Bill 2014-15.

Housing policy is a devolved issue and Scotland and Northern Ireland have had different policies on the self-build sector, however, some of the measures in the 2011 action plan developed by the National Self Build Association and the UK Government apply to Scotland. Information on the Scottish Government’s policies on self-build can be found here. The Scottish Government has also produced a Self Build Guide for Scotland. Wales piloted an innovative funding scheme in 2012 to allow people on modest incomes to initially ‘acquire’ a building plot at no cost.

Date: 20/10/2014 Date of publication

Author: House of Commons Library

DCP link: This item updates DCP section 8 and 9

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