McCloud recruited for self-build push

Government has pledged to double the size of the self-build industry and enlisted TV celebrity Kevin McCloud to promote Custom Build in the same week the Building Societies Association (BSA) publishes a toolkit offering advice on mortgage finance to sector newcomers.

The BSA reports that while one in 10 new homes in the UK are self built and the market generates £3bn annually for the UK economy, our European neighbours easily eclipse these figures. Of all French and German new builds approximately 60% are self-built and in Austria that rises to around 80%.

Nevertheless, describing the sector as “riding the crest of a wave”, housing minister Grant Shapps accompanied McCloud on a UK trade delegation to the Netherlands, to see Europe’s largest low-cost self-build experiment in Europe.

As he announced a £30m fund to provide short-term finance for self-builders, Shapps said: “More people than ever want control over the design and build of their home. But despite this 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.

“That’s why I am delighted Kevin McCloud has agreed to represent the industry, championing the cause of existing and aspiring self-builders across the country, and raising the issues and concerns that matter most to them.

“With the numbers of mortgages for self-build set to increase by a massive 141%, I will be watching with interest to see how further support from lending companies can help spur on this self-build revolution whose time has most definitely come.”

Shapps will write to “key players” in the mortgage market, highlighting the strong business case for lending to self-builders and helping to turn their housebuilding dreams into reality, after surveys showed said that 53% of those asked would be interested in building their own home. Almost two thirds of those said they would like to begin building within the next two years.

In these letters, he will highlight a new BSA toolkit providing information and advice to lenders looking to expand into this growing self-build market.

Kevin McCloud, presenter of Grand Designs (pictured) said: “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.”

BSA head of mortgage policy, Paul Broadhead, added: “Many building societies began life by helping local people fund the building of their homes, so self-build fits well with the mutual lending model. We hope that the lender toolkit will help to promote this more innovative area of lending to more providers.

“The consumer demand is there and the need for additional housing is evident. On top of this the government has committed to maximise access for self-builders to land which is being released as part of its accelerated land-disposals programme and to require local authorities to take positive steps to facilitate this form of building. The barriers to self-build are steadily coming down.”

Self-build facts and figures:

  • 13,800 self-build homes were completed in 2010/11 (DCLG estimate).
  • 400,000 people searched Rightmove in September 2011 alone looking for a building plot.
  • 100,000 people subscribe to one of the main plot-finding websites.
  • 53% of respondents to a YouGov survey said they would be interested in building their own home.

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