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A £30m fund for self builders has been announced

May 18th, 2012

A £30m fund for self builders has been announced by housing minister Grant Shapps

At the same time Kevin McCloud, presenter of Channel 4’s Grand Designs and an architecture specialist, has been appointed by the self-build industry to support the national surge of interest in people looking to design and build their own home.

Shapps said the £30 million fund will provide short-term finance to help unlock projects where groups of self-build homes are built at the same time.

According to Shapps the self-build industry is “riding the crest of a wave” as the number of self-build mortgages is set to rise by 141 per cent, and over 100,000 people are looking for self-build plots across the country.

Yet despite this interest, Britain still lags behind the rest of the world, with just one in ten of all homes each year built by self-builders – so the government has pledged to double the size of the industry.

Dutch example

To mark the start of his new role, McCloud accompanied the housing minister as he leads a UK trade delegation to the Netherlands, to see what lessons can be learnt from the highly successful Dutch self-build industry.

They visited Almere near Amsterdam, the largest low-cost self-build experiment in Europe, which has grown rapidly in recent years.

These types of projects have been held back in the UK because of reluctance by lenders to provide finance. Self-build groups will now be able to bid for a slice of the cash to part fund land acquisition and early development costs with money being repaid on completion of the project.

Encouraging lenders to lend

Shapps is also writing to key players in the mortgage market, highlighting the strong business case for lending to self-builders.

Citing recent surveys by the Building Societies Association, Shapps said that 53 per cent of those asked would be interested in building their own home – while almost two thirds of those said they would like to begin building within the next two years.

In his letters to lenders, Shapps also highlighted a new ‘toolkit’ prepared by the BSA which will provide information and advice to lenders looking to expand into the growing self-build market.

Housing minister’s comment

Shapps said: “The self-build industry is riding the crest of a wave, with more people than ever wanting control over the design and build of their home.

“But despite this self-build surge, we continue to lag behind the rest of the world. I am determined to change this so anyone who wants to embark on a self-build project has the opportunity to do so.”

Self-build champion’s comment

McCloud commented: “In the past we have built some of the poorest performing, most expensive and smallest homes in Europe. That’s not something to celebrate.

“But there is another way. What if we became a nation of self builders like the Dutch? What if each household in the UK had the option to build their own place? What if large-scale developers provided finished-slab, fully-serviced sites for homebuilders?

“We’d see more customised homes that reflect where they are, to higher space standards and to a better quality. We’d see people sharing skills and saving money.

“We’d see neighbours working together on community self build schemes and local construction economies thriving. And we’d certainly see more energy efficient buildings and a wider embracing of green technologies.

“Self build is seen as a long, difficult and self-sacrificing process. But with the right planning, help and support it can be enjoyable and – on collective schemes – empowering.”

National Self Build Association

Chairman of the National Self Build Association Ted Stevens said: “Kevin is a fantastic ambassador for the self build sector, and we’re delighted he has agreed to become our champion.

“He has a real enthusiasm to see new types of self build happen in the UK – and I know he shares our interest in the innovative developments that are taking place in Continental Europe – particularly in the Netherlands and Germany. There are many lessons to be learnt from here that could have a huge impact if we applied some of them in the UK.

“We’re also delighted that he’s agreed to record a short welcome video for the new self build portal that the industry has just launched. This should be up and running in the next few days.

“The portal explains – in a very independent way – all the different ways of undertaking a self build project and helps would-be self builders figure out the best way of tackling a project for the money they have available.”

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