Report claims government intervention could double self-build in a year

Doubling self-build house construction would save 50,000 construction jobs, according to a report published yesterday by the National Self Build Association (NaSBA).

The report, which has been sent to every MP in the country, says that government could solve the housing crisis by allocating more public land to self-builders.

Called “Self Build as a Volume Housing Solution”, it lays out eight key recommendations, aimed at doubling self-build homes in the UK to 4,000 this year.

One recommendation is that the government review all public land holdings and identify 50 sites to be split into self-build plots, with 2,000 individual plots made available by summer 2009.

Another is that developers of large plots of land should be required to make a certain number of self-build plots available, as part of section 106 planning agreements.

NaSBA says that the lack of building plots is the biggest obstacle preventing growth in the industry. NaSBA managing director Tim Doherty said: “The report's recommendation could and should make a considerable contribution in the void of new housing starts we have seen in the last few months in the UK.

“If we could double self-build housing, £3bn would be injected into the economy as self-builders currently spend at least £3bn a year on materials and services.”

Mortgage loans for self-build houses are easier to obtain than for volume-built houses, because the immediate value of a finished self-build house is generally 30% higher than total building costs.

Tommy Walsh, a self-builder and former groundworker on the BBC series Ground Force, said: “The system we have in this country does not support self-build. We have a volume housing system of builders that give us the minimum and charge us the maximum.”

According to Build It magazine, there are 6,000 self-build plots available in the UK with over 50,000 people chasing them, and many plots are in remote areas.

Self-build homes make up 12% of the UK market, compared with 50% in many European countries. Austria is the industry leader, with nearly 90% of all homes constructed by self-build.