Did you think that self-build homes were a thing of the past? Does the very idea of building your own home bring to mind muddy clothes, calloused hands, aching backs and bruised thumbs from a hammer that never hits the mark? As it turns out, the self-build home is as appealing today as ever, with one million people in the UK claiming that they would build themselves a home within the next year if they could acquire the land, and seven million indicating a willingness to do so at some point in the future.
Land is the crux of the matter.
The thing that makes self-build homes less common in the UK than elsewhere in the world is not the inefficiency of the building methods, but rather the shortage of land. However; champions of self-build homes, like Conservative MP Richard Bacon, claim the problem is not a lack of land, but rather difficulty in purchasing it. In Germany, where home builders can buy land from local authorities, 60 per cent of properties were built or commissioned by self-builders, and in Austria that number increases to 80 per cent.
No lack of land
Hence Bacon’s proposal of the Self Build and Custom House Building bill, which aims of making it easier for people in the UK to purchase land so that they can follow the example set by home builders in Germany and Austria.
Support for Richard Bacon's bill is driven primarily by the realisation of what self-build homes can do to alleviate the UK housing shortage. A decade ago it was reported that 250,000 new homes would need to be built every year if the UK housing market was to stand up to rising demand, and according to Tom de Castella, that target is still nowhere near being met.
But what if, instead of relying completely on commercial building companies, people were to physically build some of those homes for themselves? DIY Doctor argues, that in many cases, these custom built homes would end up being more attractive than what many home seekers can afford to purchase from commercial building companies.
MP Richard Bacon points to statistics showing that only 1.2 per cent of land currently has housing on it, with buildings amounting to 10 per cent in total. The bill primarily targets rural areas, where there is a large amount of land that could be used for the purpose of residential housing.
Much of the land is rightfully protected due to the presence of wildlife, but there is also a fair proportion that is not being used economically. For example, Richard Bacon claims that Surrey has more land devoted to golf courses than housing.
Self-build for the future
The bill proposes such measures as the creation of a custom-build register, funding for self-build projects, exemption from certain levies and easier access to public sector land. Through these initiatives, the bill’s supporters hope to double the self-build market in the UK and promote the construction of an additional 100,000 new homes over the course of the next decade.