15 Jun 2021

How the Help to Build Scheme Will Empower Self-builders

Ben Brocklesby, Director at Origin, discusses how the Help to Build scheme will benefit self-builders and offers his tips for building your dream property.

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The recently-announced Help to Build scheme is set to revolutionise the way homes are built in the UK for the better. The Government-funded initiative will invest an initial £150m designed to make self-building more accessible and affordable, with experts predicting it could contribute an additional 30,000 to 40,000 new homes in the UK per year.

This is an absolute gamechanger for anyone with dreams of building their own property because it opens the option of self-building up to everyone for the first time in decades. Since lending for self-build mortgages changed in the 1990s, self-build projects have only been accessible to those who had the funds available for the build itself, making this type of project out of reach for many prospective homeowners. Thanks to the Help to Build scheme, this is about to change.

The advantages

We are still awaiting the full details of the scheme from the Government. So, the nuances on who will be eligible and how long the scheme will last are still unknown. However, if executed well, we predict that the new scheme will have the power to shake up the housing industry permanently, and we will be incredibly surprised if the Government doesn’t end up adding to the £150m already invested.

This is largely down to the empowerment it will give to the individual homeowner. The majority of new homes in the UK are currently being built by large construction companies, which limits the choices available to buyers. Because of the scale of the projects, large new-build developments often become a tick-box exercise and tend to prioritise the number of bedrooms or bathrooms in a home over the functionality of the property.

By contrast, when a home is built from scratch to a homeowner’s specifications, it can be tailored to their individual needs. Self-build projects also allow the homeowner the opportunity to fully future-proof their home, ensuring it works for their lifestyles now and in five, 10 or 20 years’ time when circumstances may have changed, such as children arriving or leaving home. This isn’t possible in a new build, and they can often be seen as the ‘first house’ or a ‘step on the ladder’ instead of the ‘forever home’.

Self-build projects also allow much more scope for homeowners to make a sustainable choice. A self-builder is, by design, the project manager, and therefore makes all of the decisions over suppliers and products. So, homeowners can make the right choice for themselves. At Origin, all of our doors and windows are made from premium-grade aluminium, which is one of the most environmentally-friendly materials for doors and windows. Big housebuilders sometimes prefer to install uPVC windows and doors to save on cost; however, they’re not built for longevity and durability and also aren’t as aesthetically pleasing. By designing a home from scratch, self-builders can not only choose the materials used for every element of their home, but also the systems, configurations, colours and finishes for features like their doors and windows, and choose the quality of build that will last for the time they’re planning to spend in the property.

Advice for self-builders

Self-build projects are one of the most exciting and fulfilling things that you can do. However, there are several considerations to bear in mind when setting out on a project.

When it comes to choosing suppliers to build your home, be meticulous. At the end of the day, you are going to be living in the property, so you want it to be perfect. A self-build is a major project, so the last thing you want is to have to do it all over again or renovate further in a few years’ time because you aren’t happy. Ensure you are using credible suppliers with experience in installing the products you choose and that timeframes are clear.

It is also wise to have a great architect on board. By this, I don’t just mean someone with vision and a creative eye, but someone that listens to you, your wants and needs. Often, when self-building a home, there can be a temptation to go as big as possible, but a quality architect will work with you and your unique requirements to create a home that is as functional as possible for your lifestyle. A local architect will also be familiar with planning regulations in your area.

My final key piece of advice to prospective self-builders is to ensure you are absolutely certain you have found the right area for your home before you commence the build. This requires thorough research. If the aim is to build your forever home, then take notice of things like local schools and catchment areas, even if you don’t have children yet, because if you do in the future, these things become important.

The Help to Build scheme could not have come at a better time. The housing market may be booming right now, but there is an estimated quarter of a million deficit in housing. In other words, demand outstrips supply. The Government-backed Help to Build initiative could turn this on its head simply by giving the power back to the homeowner to build their dream house in an affordable way. This is by far the most exciting thing to happen to housing in this country for decades, and we can’t wait to help bring some incredible self-build projects to life as a result.

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