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Custom and self build homes

Custom and self build includes individuals constructing their own homes to communities project managing small developments.

The government is supporting self builders by considering plans for the Right to Build across England.

National Planning Policy Framework also encourages custom and self build projects and is a key part of the government’s reforms to make the planning system less complex and more accessible.

Each year we produce a list of housing sites with planning permission in appendix three of the Housing Land Position Report (PDF/3.42MB/82 pages).

The following types of self build have been defined by the National Custom and Self Build Association.

Types of self build

Contractor built one off home

This is the most common form of self build. Here the home owner manages the design process including finding the land, hiring an appropriate consultant, and securing planning and building regulations approval. About half of all owners then hire a main contractor to do all the construction work; the other half project manage the construction phase and hire various sub-contractors to do the work. The owner might also do some of the simpler tasks such as decorating. Approximately two thirds of self builds are currently carried out this way.

Self built one off home

Here the owner follows a similar route to the method outlined above except that they then do virtually all of the construction work themselves. This is popular with people who want to take ‘a hands on’ approach and may already have experience of self build. This method currently accounts for 10-15% of all self build projects.

Kit or package home

The owner finds the plot of land and then works with a kit home company to finalise the plans. The kit company then supply and erect the house. Sometimes the self builder just has a watertight shell built, and then does the fitting out work themselves.

Developer built one off home

Here the owner finds a developer with a site and a design that meets their requirements, and the developer then builds it out for them.

Supported community self build

Here a group of people come together to share their skills and build a number of houses collectively. The group will normally all work on everyone’s house until completion. Often these schemes include training to boost the participant’s knowledge of building. Some community groups form themselves and some are co-ordinated by housing associations or other agencies. Over the last 20 years there have been almost 100 such schemes.

Independent community collaboration

Here a group is formed to acquire a larger site which is split into individual plots. They then organise the design and construction of their own home, sometimes collaborating with others to, for example, order materials in bulk. This is a common approach in Continental Europe, but is currently relatively rare in the UK. However, it is expected to grow in popularity.

Developer/contractor led group project

A developer/contractor finds a suitable site then seeks a number of self build clients and builds the homes to their specification under contract. Often the developer provides an option to just build a watertight shell, so the owner can ‘self finish’. An alternative arrangement is for the developer to offer serviced plots which are sold ‘off plan’ with a design and build contract. This is a new approach to the UK, however it is common in other countries and is expected to grow in popularity here.

Register of interest

To express an interest in custom and self build homes please complete our self build register application form (PDF/128KB/6 pages).

In future it may be possible to offer a service matching those with plots to sell with those wanting to self build.

The Kendal self build group would be pleased to hear from you if you are thinking about a self build in the South Lakes area.


Useful links

Plot browser is a national online plot finding service.

Self build portal is a government endorsed self build resource.

Home building has a useful self build advice section.

Build store also has plenty of useful information, including access to the subscription plot search.