03 Oct 2013

Doing the groundwork

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A new survey reveals the biggest challenge faced by would-be self builders is finding a suitable plot of land.

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This ‘hurdle’ is four times higher than the next two ‘hurdles’ – securing planning permission and getting finance for a self build project. This is the key finding of a survey taken by the National Self Build Association (NaSBA).

For many years arguments have raged over the biggest challenges faced by self builders – some have claimed that securing finance is a major stumbling block; others have highlighted planning red tape. However, this comprehensive survey revealed that finding an affordable plot of land is by far the biggest problem self builders have to overcome. 41% of the 2,000 respondents felt this was their biggest challenge, with 12% stating planning and 10% claiming that securing finance was their biggest hurdle.

A high proportion of people (40%) are keen to build their new homes in the South East and South West. Scotland, East Anglia, London and the North West also seem to be particular hot spots for would-be self builders.

Most (56%) are looking to deliver a self build project within one to two years. Two-thirds are looking to achieve it within three years. Many are a little younger than the normal ‘spectrum’ of ages associated with self build – almost a third are under 40, bucking claims that the majority of self builders are retirees.

“Until now no one has quantified the scale of the various challenges that face self builders. Now we know that finding a suitable building plot is definitely the biggest one. This should help us when lobbying Government or local authorities as it really underscores that public organisations need to really focus on making more land or serviced building plots available for self builders,” said Ted Stevens, Chair of NaSBA.

Encouraging local authorities

The survey also suggests that the average budget for the delivery of a self build home is around £250,000 – covering land and building costs. A comprehensive ‘Practice Guide’ was published this summer to help encourage more local authorities and housing associations to get involved in supporting the growth of the self build sector. The National Planning Policy Framework now requires all local authorities to measure the demand there is for self build homes in their area, and to then to make provision for them.

Ted Stevens said: “We believe about 50-60 local authorities are already doing something to encourage more self build on their patch, and between them they are progressing projects that should deliver thousands of additional opportunities for would-be self builders. But there are nearly 300 other councils that we have yet to convince. We hope this Guide will reassure them, and help them work out what solution is best for them. If every council was involved it could result in tens of thousands of additional homes being built this way”.

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