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News

More than 40 custom build homes planned for Surrey development

Local initiative ready to submit outline planning for 43 plots on 100 acre site in Cranleigh

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Community group hopes to secure heritage land for self build homes

Ambitious plan aims to bring affordable self build to residents of ex-coal mining village

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'Garden cities for self and custom builders' idea wins Wolfson Prize

Winning submission calls for garden city masterplans with serviced plots for self and custom builders

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Self builders should come first in home ownership, says Tory-supporting blog

Manifesto calls on planning authorities to help self builders own homes as a priority

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Council completes purchase of Graven Hill self build site

Cherwell District Council takes ownership of land earmarked for UK's first large-scale self build community

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Case Studies

Bickleigh Eco Village, Devon

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Stoke-on-Trent Serviced Building Plots

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Harvest House

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Forevergreen House

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Liverpool Habitat for Humanity

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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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Community Eco-homes, Devon

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Lancaster Co-Housing

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Cropthorne

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Findhorn

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St Just In Roseland

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Hempsted Green

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Vauban, Germany

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Warborough

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Almere, Holland

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Ashley Vale

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West Quantoxhead

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Castle Ring Wood

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The Camberwell Curve

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Trefeglwys

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Wellstride

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Hockerton

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Wokingham

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Top tips

Red Tape

Red Tape Read more

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Independent community collaboration

Benefits

  • It is one of the lowest cost routes to self build - typically saving 40% on plot costs and an extra 10% on building costs
  • You get to know your neighbours as you do it
  • In most cases you have flexibility over the design of your home and how you build it
  • You can influence the wider area too - so you might also include communal play areas for your children, allotments or other features as part of the overall scheme
 

Challenges

  • It can take time to get a group together, and to get a clear consensus on how to use a larger site; sometimes there can be disagreements that are tricky to resolve.
  • It can be difficult to raise the finance to buy a larger site. Some people may let you down - for example they may not finish their home as fast as everyone else, or 'pull their weight' on communal tasks.

WHAT YOU USUALLY HAVE TO DO TO GET A GROUP PROJECT GOING

  • Recruit some reliable like-minded people (10-20 usually) and form a formal body to represent them.
  • Find a suitable site that everyone is happy with and line up the money to be able to buy it.
  • Agree a plan for splitting the overall site up into individual plots, and the layout of any roads or communal facilities.
  • Agree fair prices for each of the plots.
  • Decide the 'rules' for the group - for example any limits on house heights, or the preferred materials that might be used, any eco-targets you want to achieve, any deadlines for completing homes, if you are going to allow people to live on site while building work is underway, etc etc.

NEXT STEPS...

Quicklinks

Visit Community Build

Take a look at the Community Build website. Use the 'Community build' platform to create your own group in your area. You can promote your new group and attract others to join you, share information and find land. This platform is newly created and will grow as people join it. You may find that there is already a group in your area. Alternatively you can do something similar on Facebook.

Gauge interest on a piece of land

Sometimes people start groups when they spot a piece of land locally that might be ideal for a group self build scheme. So if you know of a potential site find out about its possible availability, and organise a public meeting to gauge the level of interest. You can do this by dropping simple flyers through local people's letter boxes, promoting the meeting online, or by getting your local newspaper to run an article about the meeting. You’ll be amazed at the response this usually gets.

Form a Community Land Trust

The Government’s new Community Right to Bid proposals may help you acquire public land that's not being productively used. You might also consider setting up a Community Land Trust (CLT). This can be a good option in rural areas where building land is expensive, because CLTs may be permitted to build affordable homes on agricultural land, which can be much cheaper to buy. The National CLT Network has more information on this.

Apply for a grant

If you are hoping to build as part of a group self build scheme you may be eligible for a loan under the Government’s new Custom Build Investment Fund. To be eligible there has to be at least five homes being built together. More information is available in the full prospectus. Note that a slightly different fund approach is being proposed from the Greater London Authority.

Grants are available to help groups pay for professional advice. Locality has more information, and has also produced an informative document on how community groups can apply for a slice of money through the £17m Community Led Project Support fund, announced by the Government in the early summer of 2013.

The Confederation of Co-operative Housing has recently produced a new guide that provides advice on how community groups can set themselves up and operate. Click here to find out more.

Some of the bigger lending institutions may also be worth approaching, though in the current economic climate; it’s very difficult to get finance for group self build schemes.

What else?

Visit the Collective Custom Build website which raises awareness about how people can build homes together.

Go to see some of the most interesting and successful self build group projects (Ashley Vale in Bristol or Findhorn in Scotland, for example) so that you understand how they worked. This will help you to assess the viability of getting a local project off the ground.

You can read more about some successful and innovative community self build projects in Europe here:

There are some training courses run from time to time by EcomotiveThe Centre for Alternative Technology, and The National Self Build and Renovation Centre.

There are many other sources of useful information – such as exhibitions and the various self build magazines.

Case studies

Hockerton

Hockerton

Five families worked together to build these eco homes on land previously zoned for agricultural use. The build cost was around £65,000 each.

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Ashley Vale

Ashley Vale

A group of local people in Bristol clubbed together to build homes for 32 families. The costs ranged from £70,000 to about £150,000.

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Liverpool Habitat for Humanity

Liverpool Habitat for Humanity

A charity building 32 low-cost homes built by volunteers in the Granby-Toxteth district of the city.

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