Help to Build prospectus launched

The government has released more details about its Help to Build loan equity scheme for selfbuilders, with the release of its prospectus. It follows the announcement  of the new initiative back in the summer.

The new £150m scheme will make funding for those wishing to build their own home more affordable, enabling building plots to be purchased with just a five per cent deposit. The government will top up deposits with a 20 per cent equity loan, interest free for five years, with the remaining 75 per cent cost of the build funded by a self-build mortgage.

The equity loan must be repaid at the end of the term (normally 25 years), when the house is sold, the mortgage paid off or any time before. The amount repayable at redemption is linked to the value of the home at the time, and not the amount originally borrowed.

The scheme is open to those that meet the eligibility criteria set by approved self-build lenders, not just first-time buyers.

National Custom and Self Build Association CEO Andrew Baddeley-Chappell said: “This scheme will lead to more affordable and better homes that are more wanted and more sustainable.” 

Karen Curtin, MD at Graven Hill, the UK’s biggest custom and self-build development, based in Bicester, said: “Our European neighbours have promoted this option for many years, creating communities packed full of personality, and hopefully this is the start of the UK achieving the same. With self-building becoming more affordable, we hope that more people will feel able to purchase their own self-build plot.” 

Applications for the scheme are expected to open this winter.

Click here for the prospectus

26 November, 2021

Property transactions down

The latest monthly data from the Office of National Statistic shows that the seasonally adjusted estimate of UK residential transactions in October 2021 is 76,930 – 28 per cent lower than the same time last year and 52 per cent lower than the previous month.

The provisional non-seasonally adjusted figure was 85,090, 30 per cent lower than October 2020 and 48 per cent lower than September 2021.

The data reflects a forestalling in transactions in the summer due to stamp duty concessions, which returned to the normal rate on September 30.

23 November, 2021

Car charging mandate for new homes

New homes in England will be required by law to install electric vehicle charging points from next year. The move comes as the UK aims to switch to electric cars, with new petrol and diesel cars sales banned from 2030.

Announcing the new laws at the Confederation of British Industry's conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "This is a pivotal moment – we cannot go on as we are. We have to adapt our economy to the green industrial revolution.”

An electric car can be charged from a standard three-pin plug but is more expensive and takes twice as long (20-24 hours) than a single-phase EV charging point.Using a three-phase EV charging point takes as little as 30 minutes, depending on the make and model of the car.

The National Federation of Builders has raised concerns about the proposed legislation, saying that house builders would need to fund substations in order for electricity suppliers to provide sufficient load to power the chargers.

“These costs are considerable – upwards of £50,000 for a handful of homes - and it is neither the builder, nor homeowner who profits from this infrastructure, it is the electricity companies who achieve revenue in perpetuity from someone else’s investment,” said NFB chief executive Richard Beresford.

There is also the concern that the type of charger being installed will not meet future grid or EV charging standards. The NFB has been calling on the Government to standardise EV charging infrastructure and grid strategy before mandating a solution which will require mass retrofitting.

Rico Wojtulewicz, head of housing at the House Builders Association (HBA), the housebuilding arm of the NFB, said: “The Government needs to think very carefully about how it achieves a green revolution. It must require electricity companies to shoulder this cost, as they will be profiting from these investments in perpetuity. Or perhaps it is time to bring services into public ownership because the government is not proving able to regulate the sector in a way that doesn’t cost the taxpayer.”

22 November 2021

Licences proposed for builders

The Federation of Master Builders has backed a private member’s bill calling for the mandatory licensing of construction companies, saying it will help protect consumers and reputable builders.

The bill, introduced by the Conservative MP Mark Garnier, proposes to outlaw cowboy builders and provide compensation for their victims. Currently, anyone can call themselves a builder without having to demonstrate any training, qualifications or experience. The only protection for consumers who have fallen foul of shoddy building work is complex contract law, which is expensive and out of reach of most consumers.

The bill proposes a simple complaints system where consumers are entitled to compensation for work deemed to be sub-standard. Offenders face having licences taken away. It would also protect reputable builders from being undercut by cowboy builders, who harm the reputation of the industry and put consumers off commissioning building work.

FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “Licenses for the building trade are long overdue and have widespread support in the industry. They will protect consumers, enhance the reputation of the industry, and provide a significant boost to the economy.”

Mark Garnier said: “Cowboy builders ruin the lives of their victims and tarnish the reputation of the vast majority of builders who are decent, hard-working people. This Bill will help to end this scourge once and for all.”

19 November 2021

NSBRC wins national award

The National Self Build & Renovation Centre in Swindon has won a national business award in recognition of its outstanding performance during the Covid-19 pandemic. The centre won the Employee Ownership Association’s award for Business Resilience from a short-list of 13 companies.

Entrants were invited to submit a written story about how they addressed the challenges faced by employee-owned businesses over the past 18 months. Businesses of all sizes wrote about how their focus on their staff supported their health and wellbeing, helped the business to adapt and delivered benefit for multiple stakeholders.

Votes were cast by EO members, with the winners announced at the association’s annual conference.

Harvey Fremlin, MD of the NSBRC, said: “As soon as the Prime Minister instructed the nation to ‘stay at home’, we realised the pandemic would have a fundamental impact on our business. It left us with some daunting questions. How could we run a national visitor centre with no visitors, and how to do that from our own kitchens or hastily made home-offices?

“We had previously taken on the business following a period of adversity, and have made a great success of things in recent years, so I was confident that we would be able to overcome the challenge of the pandemic.

“What I perhaps underestimated, was the sheer energy, tenacity and passion that my colleagues displayed to ensure that not only did we survive, but indeed thrived, and we now have new products and an enhanced offering for our visitors and exhibitors. I am absolutely thrilled, on behalf of all the team, to win this award and it is particularly special as it was voted on by our peers.”

NSBRC managing director Harvey Fremlin (centre) with members of the award-winning team.

EOA chief executive Deb Oxley said: “We are delighted for NSBRC It shows how the trust that has been built up in the business, by leveraging the strengths they have developed through being employee owned, supported them to quickly adapt and flex their offer - from being an exhibition venue almost totally reliant on in-person activity to seeking out ways to offer customer value digitally.”

The NSBRC is the UK’s only visitor centre for those looking to build or renovate.

Since November 2014, the NSBRC has been employee-owned with a ‘hybrid’ ownership model, with all of the team owning shares, some directly and all indirectly through their Employee Ownership Trust.

18 November 2021

New CSB opportunities

Dutch custom and self-build (CSB) specialist Steenvlinder has announced its intention to launch three projects in the UK. Building plots will soon be available in Ashford (105 plots), Birmingham (30-50) and Basildon (12), with utilities already connected.

The Netherlands is recognised for its innovation in the CSB sector, with the new town of Almere being an international model of what can be achieved at scale.

Steenvlinder is currently working on UK projects with Urbanise, Czero and Unboxed homes and is exploring Scotland for future UK developments.

In Pound Lane, Basildon buyers can choose from three house types, each pre-assigned to one of 12 plots that best suits the design. See Pound Lane plots for sale on

After paying a deposit of £400, buyers have 12 weeks to exchange contracts after exploring the various options such as house size, external finish and whether to take the turnkey or DIY procurement route.

The Birmingham estate-like development is on an historical industrial site in an area of King’s Norton where a paper mill once thrived. The site forms an island between a canal and the river Rea, with the planned houses fronting the waterway and encouraging shared communal spaces. The project still in the planning stages, with plots expected to go on sale towards the end of 2022.

The 105-plot site located on Orchard Farm in Kennington, on the northern edge of Ashford, is close to the village of Wye, 14 miles from Canterbury and a 40 minute train commute to London.

Planning permission for the first 25 homes has been granted and the first phase of the development is expected to start in the spring.

Buyers will have the chance to create a sustainable community where everyone will have had input into the design and build of their home, either with a professional team or DIY.

Outline planning permission has been agreed for a range of plot shapes and potential house sizes, and infrastructure like roads, drains, gas and electricity is already in place.

15 November 2021