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News

Custom build scheme outlined for Oxfordshire village

Plans submitted for seven detached custom build homes on two-acre site near Henley-on-Thames

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Greater London Authority launches self/custom build register

List will gauge city-wide interest in programme which could see councils allocate plots of land across the city

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Self builders sought to deliver 39-home scheme on Dartmoor

Councillor aims to voluntarily train team to build eco-friendly bungalows for themselves

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Custom build developer establishes West Midlands projects

Thirty zero-carbon custom build homes earmarked for sites in Staffordshire and Telford

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Scottish council to develop self/custom build options in major housing strategy

Local authority commits to bring forward sites for people to build or customise a home for themselves as part of a drive to deliver 25,000 new homes by 2025

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Case Studies

Steel Farm

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Merlin Haven

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Timber Frame Home, Ventnor

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Aldcliffe Yard, Lancaster

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Walthamstow Social Rent Scheme

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Prefabricated Passivhaus bungalow

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Cookham Dean, Berkshire

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Harvest House

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Bickleigh Eco Village, Devon

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Stoke-on-Trent Serviced Building Plots

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Forevergreen House

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Housing People Building Communities

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Sülzer Freunde, Cologne

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Berlin - 'Building Groups'

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Manor Farm, Kirton

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Straw-baling, Perthshire

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Low-cost Irish House

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Lancaster Cohousing

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Cropthorne

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St Just In Roseland

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Almere, Holland

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Top tips

Custom Build Serviced Plots Loan Fund

Custom Build Serviced Plots Loan Fund Read more

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Building Methods: Sustainability

Eco Guidance

Many self builders are keen to be as eco friendly and sustainable as possible.

The most important thing that any self builder can do is invest in really good levels of insulation, so that any heat generated within the home is not lost. Aim to install significantly more than the levels demanded by the Building Regulations, so you create an extremely snug low energy home. A very well insulated home will cost hardly anything to heat and won’t need lots of fancy gadgets or expensive heating systems to keep everyone warm. So, especially if you only have a modest amount available to make your home sustainable, insulation should be your first priority.

There are many ways of boosting the insulation levels in a home – for example, you can simply add thicker levels of insulation, and opt for triple rather than double-glazing. There are also several new technologies on the market including aerogels, vacuum insulated panels, multi-foils, sheeps wool, hemp, wood fibre and recycled paper products. Working out which is right for you will require some serious study.

Our Suppliers Directory lists various companies that are specialists in insulation and other eco products.

More sources of general eco information include:

Once you have ensured your new home is really well insulated you may want to consider some of the new eco energy generation technologies such as solar panels (some produce hot water, whereas photo-voltaic generates electricity), air and ground source heat generators, wood pellet/biomass boilers, log burners, wind and water turbines, and mini domestic combined heat and power generators. Some of these can be quite expensive to install, and if you already have a well insulated design, they may be hard to justify.

You may also be interested in mechanical ventilation and heat recovery systems (MVHR), the latest generation of really efficient gas boilers, and smart control systems, low energy lighting, and ensuring you fit the most energy efficient domestic appliances.

In 2011 a team of experts from the social housing sector looked at some early feedback on the pros and cons of each of the various eco technologies, and the main types of insulation that are being trialed. These slideshows may also be of interest to you:

Great care must be taken in calculating which eco features are affordable and appropriate - beware of 'eco bling!' and 'greenwashing'.

Here are more sources of impartial advice:

There are some financial incentives available for self builders to help support the use of low carbon solutions and there is a good description via Homebuilding & Renovating.

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