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New Registers to Facilitate Residential Land Supply

Can redeveloping more browfield land help to solve the housing crisis? 

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Self-Build as Housing Market Fix

Capacity in the Homebuilding Industry: How the UK is falling short with self-building 

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Can you design a quality home on a tiny budget?

NaCSBA launches 2017 ideas competition to create a low cost retirement community or granny annex

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Case Studies

Contemporary Timber Frame Home

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Passivhaus Family Farmhouse

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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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Almere, Holland

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Top tips

Kevin McCloud's
Top Tip

Kevin McCloud's Top Tip Read more

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Supported community self build group


  • It enables people on low incomes to build a home – either for rent, part ownership or full ownership. By working as part of a group costs are minimised
  • You get to know your neighbours as you do 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
  • You often learn construction skills that may improve your chance of securing a job in the building industry afterwards


  • 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 site or to get funding or a donated site via a social landlord. Sometimes projects also need grants to be secured to make them fully viable and this can be challenging
  • Some people may let you down – for example they may not ‘pull their weight’
  • You will have to commit to work typically 20 hours a week for 46-60 weeks


  • Approach the Community Self Build Agency to see if you can get a group off the ground in your area (or join one that is currently being formed). You may also need to secure support from a local housing association/social landlord.
  • If you are a group of people with existing construction skills, you might want to work with D & O Management Services Ltd. This is a private company that project manages schemes like this.
  • Find a suitable site that a local authority or a social landlord can donate or acquire on your behalf. Sometimes land can be made available via a Community Land Trust.
  • Decide among your group how you are going to structure the finances and if you want to build homes to own, part-own or rent
  • Work with an architect to agree a plan for the overall layout and design of the homes, and the layout of any roads or communal facilities.
  • Decide the 'rules' for the group – for example how many hours you will all put in each week, any eco-targets you want to achieve, any deadlines for completing homes, the budgets you will all work to, etc.



Contact an independent advice network

The Community Self Build Agency (CSBA) may have details of a community self build project in your area that is currently seeking people to join it. We would recommend that you go through this website carefully so that you are clear about the various ways projects can be established. You might also want to make contact directly with someone from the CSBA – it provides advice for free and they are very helpful. There are many options and variations possible, and it will take you some time to fully understand them all and work out what may be best for you.

Another organisation that may be able to help is the UK Cohousing Network. Setting up or joining a housing co-operative allows people to share ownership and responsibility for a property or group of properties, and is another possible route into self build for those with limited financial resources. The Catalyst Collective has further information on how to set up a housing co-operative. These websites explain how co-housing groups can be formed, and they include several good case studies and lists of co-housing groups seeking members. The Network also runs regular training courses for people thinking about getting involved in a project.

Housingnet offers a useful search tool for finding social landlords/housing associations in your area.

Form a Community Land Trust

As Community Land Trusts are often used as a way of providing the sites for projects you might consider setting up a Community Land Trust (CLT). This can be a good option in rural areas where building land is expensive, as 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.

The Government's Community Right to Bid may help you acquire public land that's not being productively used.

Apply for a grant

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.

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 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.

Some of the bigger lending institutions may also be worth approaching - but beware of difficult economic climates which may make it 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 community self build projects so that you understand how they worked (there are good examples all over the UK and CSBA may be able to arrange for you to visit one near you). 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 here:

There are training courses run from time to time by people like the UK Cohousing Network.

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

Supported community self build group

St Just In Roseland

Six families have worked together to build very cost effective homes in an expensive part of Cornwall (£100,000 for a three bedroom house).

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