10 January 2023

Does the future of housing sit with custom-build developments?

By Self Build Zone

Custom-build housing is where an individual builds their own home or contracts a builder or developer to create a ‘custom built’ home for them. Self-build and custom housebuilding cover a wide spectrum, from projects where individuals are involved in building or managing the construction of their home from beginning to end to projects where individuals commission their home, making key design and layout decisions, but the home is built ready for occupation (‘turnkey’).

The Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 (as amended by the Housing and Planning Act 2016) provides a legal definition of self-build and custom housebuilding. The Act does not distinguish between self-build and custom housebuilding and provides that ‘both are where an individual, an association of individuals, or persons working with or for individuals or associations of individuals, build or complete houses to be occupied as homes by those individuals’.

‘Custom build’ is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘self build’ in conversation, however custom build is one route to building your own home, it’s a process that operates around a different structure than a traditional self build, so understanding the distinction between the two will help you identify the best option for your own self build journey.

Custom build has been identified as one way to help solve the housing shortage, and there are several projects and sites promoting the custom build concept at present including NaCSBA.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has published the National Planning Policy Framework prospectus and launched the consultation, with responses due by 2 March. This sets out the proposed improvements to the national planning policy that will help deliver the ambitions set out in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (LURB).

Respondents are requested to use the online Citizen Space to complete the survey with their responses, which supports analytics.

“Much of the reasoning behind the LURB is about putting communities in charge of what is built locally, and how policy can enable this. Of note, the document re-emphasises government’s commitment to delivering 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, an ambition that has been in doubt based on comments by senior leadership over the last year.”

In particular, the document sets out the potential role of new National Development Management Policies (NDMP) – which will frame nationally important policies. This will remove the need for each authority to create these in their own plans, which government hopes will support SME housebuilders, who currently have to navigate a patchwork of approaches. The consultation offers an opportunity to comment on these NDMPs.

Proposals to support owner-commissioned homes

The document stresses a commitment to encourage local planning authorities to support the role of community-led groups in delivering affordable housing on exception sites – an important piece of support for this form of owner-commissioned homes.

It also sets out to review how national policy can support, “smaller developers, self- and custom-build developers and other innovators to enter the market, building a competitive house building market with high standards, strong rules, and clear accountability”.



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