Right to Build Day - 30th October - is fast approaching!

Right to Build Day

Right to Build Day - 30th October 2019 - is fast approaching. It marks the first date by which planning authorities must have agreed sufficient planning permissions to match the 18,000 entries on the local self build registers set up on 31st October 2016. The proof will be in the pudding as the old adage goes – and we will finally see how local authorities deliver on their obligations.

Since the Right to Build Registers were set up in October 2016, we have seen a succession of new housing ministers - five to be exact - in the form of Gavin Barwell, Alok Sharma, Dominic Raab, Kit Malthouse and most recently Esther McVey.

Of the five, our favourite to date is perhaps Kit because, as the son of self builders, he at least had a real appreciation for how self build could deliver a better home for less, and how everyone can aspire to build or design their own homes, given the opportunity. During his time as housing minister Kit said: “We all agree that self build can and should be a mainstream housing option in this country”. Of the new build houses on offer, he predicted that many of the boxes being thrown up would soon be “ripped down and bulldozed” as unsuitable.

In June 2019, the Secretary of State for Communities, James Brokenshire MP said: “I’ve challenged the development industry to raise the bar on the standard and quality of the new homes we build”. The ‘Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission’ was set up by the Government to tackle the challenge of poor-quality design and build of homes and places, across the country and to help ensure as we build for the future, it’s done with popular consent. The Commission’s interim report – Creating Space for Beauty was published on 9 July 2019. In preparing the report, one developer was quoted saying “the quality, both architectural and build, of the houses that are being delivered in the United Kingdom by the volume housebuilders is, in 2019, as bad as it has been for many generations”.

The Commission aims to deliver beauty for everyone, not just the wealthy, at three scales:

  • Beautiful Buildings
    Considering windows, height, space, and materials
  • Beautiful Places
    The ‘spirit’ of the place, the nature of streets, squares and parks; and
  • Beautifully Placed
    Sustainable settlement patterns in the right place and sitting in the landscape

So, Right to Build Day is fast approaching, the ‘Building Better, Building Beautiful’ Commission wants to raise the bar on homes being built in the UK and Esther McVey is our latest Housing Minister is pledging to “make the dream of homeownership a reality”. In her first appearance in the role, McVey said the new government led by Boris Johnson would “give millions of young people the chance to own their own homes”. Well Boris and Esther, we certainly hope you’ll look to self and custom build, as one of the ways to deliver on your pledge.

The Housing Forum Report ‘Building Better Homes’ British Gypsum asked 600 consumers who had bought a new home or were about to buy one, for their views for its Building Better Homes Report 2019. The results revealed that 38% said they would prefer to avoid buying another new build property in the future and 77% of these were concerned about the saleability of their new build property based on the quality of building work.

The report also says that Builders continue to provide the same designs for as long as possible to avoid the costs of redesign, and anticipating new trends in the market or adapting to suit customer demands is not always in their business model.

A RIBA report The Case for Space revealed that the average one-bedroom new build home in the UK is 46 sq m – the same size as a Jubilee Line train carriage on the London Underground. That makes them the smallest in western Europe.

Self and custom build can deliver on both the ‘build better’ and the ‘build beautiful’ criteria. The quality and design of these homes is far superior in most instances to a new build home and it’s cheaper. The fear factor may come in when you imagine having to build your own home from scratch and being knee-deep in mud. But there are options for everyone. Custom build, in particular, offers a far easier route to a beautiful bespoke home because much of the responsibility you have with self build is taken off your shoulders by an enabler. The enabler will take on various aspects such as sourcing a plot, connecting utilities, through to project management and even help with finding finance. And customers can typically save up to 10-15% of the overall cost of their new home when compared with buying a new build. It’s a bit less than you’ll make with self build but the benefits are worth it.