Building your own home: everything you need to know to get started on your self-build house

Now is a better time than ever for aspiring housebuilders as new government targets suggest more than 100,000 custom-built homes could be erected across the country within the next four years.

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More than half of Britain's homeowners dream of building their own home, but with suitable plots of land notoriously hard to come by, only eight per cent ever get round to creating their very own grand design.

This is despite self-builders being able to save up to 30 per cent of the cost of buying an existing home, according to the National Custom & Self Build Association. In theory, this means the average first-time buyer home in London could cost £300,000 to build, instead of £430,000 to buy.

Self-building is a much more common practice abroad, with around 60 per cent of homes self- or custom-built (with the help of a specialist) in Germany, 50 per cent in Australia and 23 per cent in America.

One of the main problems that prevents people from self-building is finding a suitable plot, which is also commonly the biggest investment, accounting for up to 80 per cent of the total price.

Grand Designs: Kevin McCloud is a champion of self-build, following ambitious homeowners through the ups and downs of building their dream homes on Channel 4's series Grand Designs

Financing a self build
Securing finance may not be as daunting as it seems. "Self-build mortgages aren’t so different to regular mortgages," says Michael Holmes, NaCSBA's chairman. "The amount you can borrow is determined by your income - typically, three to four times.

"Significantly, the mortgage amount dependent on the costs of the project rather than the value of the completed home."

Finding the perfect plot
Land can be hard to come by, especially in densely populated cities such as London, although a full list of UK plots for sale on the open market can be found at

Right to build legislation
However new right to build legislation introduced in April requires local authorities in England to ensure that there is enough land available for those who want to build their own home.

Aspiring builders need to register their interest and the council is under obligation to satisfy demand within three years.

Possible sites include surplus public sector land, such as that owned by the NHS and the MoD. Land may be sold or rented and there is even talk of shared-ownership plots.

Registered self-builders can also suggest potential plots to councils, while developers are being encouraged to create serviced plots for custom-builds. 

Blank canvases: Inhabit is building five homes at Blenheim Grove, Peckham

Custom-build homes
Next month, the Government is expected to release a proposal that will encourage banks to lend to small firms capable of pre-building homes in factories, with ministers said to be hopeful that more than 100,000 custom-built homes will be erected within the next four years.

There are already examples of this around the country. Residents in Peckham set up a collaborative project with Inhabit Homes to design five custom-built homes at Blenheim Grove that are more affordable and more sustainable than the area's existing properties.   

Graven Hill near Bicester in Oxfordshire is set to be the largest self-build development and will be able to accomodate 1,900 custom-built homes, while ZeroC developers is releasing 122 plots in Basingstoke soon.

"Now is a better time than ever for aspiring housebuilders," says Holmes. "It's not an overnight solution, but it's the start."

Follow Lizzie Rivera on Twitter @LizzieRivs

Michael Holmes will be at The Northern Homebuilding & Renovating Show, November 4-6, Harrogate; and The South-West Homebuilding & Renovating Show, November 19-20, The Bath & West Showground, Shepton Mallet, Somerset.

Tickets are £8 in advance or £12 on the door for either show. Visit or call the ticket hotline on 0844 8740 484 (calls cost 6p per minute plus network extras) or ​

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