GUEST BLOG - Opinions from house building industry insiders

Why 2021 will be a better year for selfbuilders

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell is excited about the government’s plans to encourage more selfbuilders.

Recent government announcements have been the most important for selfbuilders since the Right to Build legislation in 2015 made it easier to access land with planning permission in place.

On Right to Build Day (October 30), the Housing Secretary announced a review of the effectiveness of the legislation. This is something that the National Custom and Self Build Association has been calling for as it became increasingly aware of the loopholes and limitations of the current law. 

In particular, we have seen an increasing number of councils acting to make it more difficult to join the self-build registers that, in turn, contribute to the supply of building plots. The total number of restrictions imposed by councils to joining registers has increased from just 10 back in 2016 to over 140 when NaCSBA last carried out a review.

On top of the legislation review, the government also announced that councils must publish performance records, and that it would issue new guidance to help address some of these shortcomings.

HM Treasury confirmed that up to £2.2bn would be made available in the form of loans through a Help to Build equity loan scheme for anyone wanting to commission their own home.

This great news for the self build sector was followed on November 25 with the Chancellor’s announcement of new measures as part of his spending plans for the next year. Amidst the focus on the state of the economy, the detailed documents contained two significant announcements.  

First, HM Treasury confirmed that up to £2.2bn would be made available in the form of loans through a Help to Build equity loan scheme for anyone wanting to commission their own home. 

Few details are known at this time, but it should address the fact that most selfbuilders cannot access the current Help to Buy scheme. If this is the case it will enable those with smaller deposits to access mortgages more easily and at a lower rate than would otherwise be the case.

Secondly, the chancellor also revealed new funding that would, among other things, support public sector land being put forward to create serviced plots for custom and self build.  

Put together, these announcements indicate that not only is the government listening to NaCSBA, but it is taking action, and this is despite the huge pressures on its time and finances. 

A better 2021

This is important stuff! It means we can look forward to a better 2021, both for selfbuilders and the businesses operating in the sector. 

For those of you at the start of your self-build journey, you can expect to see a more favourable environment for accessing both plots and finance – two traditional barriers that discourage people from selfbuilding.

We can, and will, shift the way in which people think about homes and the way in which they are delivered. And these changes will make affordable, sustainable and quality homes more accessible to more people. 

It will help ensure that the diversity of our homes better matches the needs of our considerably varied communities, right across the country.

We can, and will, shift the way in which people think about homes and the way in which they are delivered. And these changes will make affordable, sustainable and quality homes more accessible to more people.

So, if you are thinking of a self build, what should you be doing? To start with, join a self-build register in the area in which you would like to – and can afford to – build.  

Don’t be afraid to complain if joining a register is not an option because of the constraints imposed by the council; simply write to the planning department.  

Secondly, keep planning and researching. Time invested now will be saved later, and there are plenty of decisions you can make in preparation, such as which build system might work best for you.

Some readers may not need to wait for the extra government help that is coming, but the announcements will sustain and grow the suppliers in the sector, helping to build homes and boost local economies.

The past 12 months has been a terrible time and while we’re not out of the woods yet, we have reason to hope that 2021 will be better. Quality housing can – and should – make our lives better, and these government announcements will help make that a reality for many more of us.

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell is CEO of the National Custom and Self Build Association.