Why more and more people are building their own houses

The practice of self-building homes is fairly uncommon, but nonetheless noticeably rising in popularity, in the UK. But why are more and more people opting to build their own residence, rather than go down the more traditional route of choosing a ready-constructed house? This article sheds light on many probable reasons.

Time for some initial number-crunching

In the UK, about 10% of new houses are self-built. This is very low compared to the trend in many other European countries; in Finland and Switzerland, self-builds account for almost 60% of new houses, while the corresponding figure is just over 60% in France, Norway and Germany. Still, there is evidence that a rising number of people are choosing to construct their own homes. The self-build market was worth £3.6 billion in 2013, and the University of York reports that “it is almost certain that the figure has grown since then”.

What is driving the growth in self-building?

Short of directly asking these self-builders, we can only speculate; however, there are various increasingly publicised attractions of self-building. One big draw is that it can make owning a home more financially palatable. In May 2014, the then-Planning Minister, Nick Boles, enthused that “custom building a house can be a cheaper way to provide a home for you and your family and I want to see many more people making use of it.”

In that year’s Budget, the Government announced a number of policies aimed at boosting residential self-building – including putting together a repayable fund of £150 million for helping to service up to 10,000 plots for custom building, and seeking to extend the coverage of the Help to Buy equity loan scheme to custom build.

Many specific needs can be better met with self-builds

The University of York, in its report “How Local Authorities Can Support Self-Build”, has identified several other merits of self-building. These include that it allows people to construct houses more specifically tailored to their needs. This can theoretically benefit a wide range of people – no longer does a square peg have to settle for living in a round hole. However, it could especially help elderly and disabled people, who could have very particular requirements for their housing’s features and facilities.

It is likely due to the highly bespoke nature of self-building that many self-builders are relatively happy to build on land that developers consider unattractive. A developer has to build homes while considering common needs and desires across the population. Hence, they might more readily reject land that most people have little desire to live on, but a small number of self-builders think much more positively about.

How we can help with self-building

For all of these advantages of self-building, however, it does pose a common danger: that of underestimating or overestimating the costs. If you have never built your own home before, how can you be confident how much money you will need to spend doing so? Fortunately, at My Build Estimate, we can give you accurate price estimates for a self-build project.

 

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