The Government has today (Friday 24 June) published its response to the Independent review into scaling up self-build and custom housebuilding, published by Richard Bacon MP in August 2021. 

Housing Minister Rt Hon Stuart Andrew MP has warmly welcomed the report, saying:

The government strongly believes that self and custom build housing can play a crucial role – as part of a wider package of measures – in securing greater diversity in the housing market, increasing overall supply and helping to deliver the homes people want.”

“The Help to Build prospectus sets out the details of the scheme and was published in November; applications will open on 27 June 2022 with the first approved individuals ready to build in 2022/23”.

“We have committed to new activities, such as establishing a dedicated self-commissioned homes delivery unit within Homes England. This will ensure that we embed and maximise what the government can do to support delivery of self-commissioned homes across our programmes.”

“The government will continue to work with the industry to reduce the barriers to self and custom build and community-led housing more widely, to ensure that we grow the sector to meet our shared ambition.”

Richard Bacon’s report set out a series of ambitious recommendations for the Government to broaden the housing market and offer consumers much more choice in the homes they live in. These included: 

In responding and despite lack of detail, the Government has appeared to accept most of Bacon’s recommendations, underlining its continued commitment to scale-up the self-commissioned housebuilding sector in England. Key actions the Government has said it will take that are set out in its policy response paper include:

Custom Build Homes (CBH) had been closely involved in the Review through its Director of Planning & Strategic Engagement and ex-civil servant, Mario Wolf, who was part of the steering group supporting Richard Bacon in preparing his report. To feed into the supporting analysis CBH surveyed the preferences of consumers over where and what type of homes they want to build. This found that many people are not opposed to plots made available on larger housing sites and there is an overwhelming consumer preference for commissioning a bespoke home, built on a serviced plot, from a contractor or builder and buying a customisable home. Top findings were: 46% of people have no preference whether they build on a single plot or whether they build alongside a group of other houses (i.e. a larger housing site) and 47% would prefer to build a bespoke home on a serviced plot with the support of a contractor or builder.

The Government’s Response forms part of a broader package of announcements, comprising:

This latest announcement has been much anticipated. According to analysis by Custom Build Homes as part of its own growth plans, the market for custom build housing continues to expand at a scale never seen before in the UK with thousands of development opportunities coming through local plan allocations policies which now routinely ask larger sites to set aside land for custom housebuilding which is then secured through a legal planning agreement. Landowners are also increasingly identifying potential multi-home sites in response to growing consumer demand and where there is the prospect of securing planning permission. Although sites have in the past involved single home developments and small multi-plot ‘self-build’ sites with a few detached homes, the market is rapidly evolving into sites offering 20-50 homes or even larger with a focus on customisable ‘made to order’ homes delivered by professionals for customers.

However, the UK housing market cannot currently deliver customised housing products at any real scale, with market knowledge and available suppliers in short supply. Enablers like Custom Build Homes will therefore have a key role to play in unlocking the growth potential of the market by working alongside landowners and housebuilders. But to do so enablers need to have the capacity and investment behind them to work at pace across the industry. The Government’s response -with its commitment for the new Delivery Unit to look at how enablers can be supported- therefore sets an important framework for tackling this issue.

Mario Wolf, Custom Build Homes’ Director of Planning & Strategic Engagement, said:

“We’re delighted to see the Government’s response being finally published. The proposals for action are wide ranging and demonstrate that custom and self-build housing has a serious role to play in diversifying our housing market.”

“The Help to Build equity loan scheme is now open for business and will be a key driver to scaling the self-commissioned housing market, but there is a lack of detail around the other actions. It is therefore imperative that Ministers set out a clear delivery timeline between now and 2025, so that we don’t lose the market opportunities which are being created and the market can attract the investment needed scale in line with the Government and industry’s shared ambition.”

Mario Wolf will be in conversation with Richard Bacon about the Government’s response to his report which will be aired on the CBH podcast channel later at the end of June.

-Ends-


Media Enquiries

Graham Taylor

01506 331 010

graham.taylor@custombuildhomes.co.uk

Have a say in your future home and community.

Do you have a clear idea of what your future home may look like? If so, we want to hear about it!

By letting us know what you are looking for in your home, we can start to shape future communities based on what you tell us. We collect data from across the UK to find out what homes of the future should look and feel like, as well as where they are most needed.

Once you have submitted your demand, we will keep you informed of any custom build communities that come to market and meet your criteria.

Data can tell us a vast amount about the likes (and more importantly the dislikes) of homebuyers. The insight this data gives us, helps us deliver better designs. We have already learnt the impact of Covid-19 has resulted in a sharp focus of the importance of outdoor space and the ability to work from home.

CBH is a data driven company and highlights the need for self and custom build housing around the UK, to provide a more unique route to home ownership.

Together we can influence the spaces around us and the future of housebuilding in the UK.

Let’s get started…

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Custom houses are a great choice when searching for your next home. More familiar routes include your traditional second-hand home or a new build from the volume housebuilders such as Taylor Wimpey, Redrow, Barratts, Persimmon or Bellway.

What is custom home building?

Custom-building is a form of housebuilding that enables you to get a new home that has been created with you to meet your lifestyle needs now and in the future. We offer a selection of layouts per floor for you to choose from. Your home is then built based on your choices.

Custom build housing developments are well-designed communities built specifically for the people who live there.


How does custom housing work?

You have the opportunity to customise your new home from a range of pre-designed customisable homes. You will be given plenty of flexibility to ensure that your home meets your needs. 


You will have a range of choices including:

House type (detached, semi-detached, terraced or flat);

Internal layouts;

Interior fit out;

Exterior materials;

and

Additional features where possible, such as Electric Vehicle charging points or PV (Solar) panels.

Once all your selections have been made, your home will be built for you. Your home is handed over as a ‘blank canvas’. This is a plastered and painted shell with the services for the kitchen and bathroom brought into the room and capped, ready for connection.

You will then have access to your new home to add the finishing touches, supported by MyCustomBuild – a digital tool that connects you to local trades and suppliers.

You can find custom build home opportunities on our website you can sign up to the Custom Build Homes’ e-news to get latest developments and news straight to your inbox.


Why choose a custom home?

Choosing a custom build home for your next move will enable you to tailor your new home’s layout to enable you to live better by design. This ensures your home works for you, for example from family time and socialising to working from home.

What happens if I can’t find a custom build home in my preferred location? 

Sign up to the Custom Build Register so that we can design new developments for the people who want to live there. We will let you know about opportunities which we believe meet your needs.

Who are Custom Build Homes?

Custom Build Homes (CBH) is creating and shaping new developments across the UK to create better designed communities and deliver homes that people want to live in. 

CBH is an Enabler who works in partnership with landowners to manage the delivery of multiple new homes for each housing project. This process enables people to have primary input into the design and/or customisation of their new home.

Learn how you can create your dream house with CBH here.

Custom Build Homes (CBH) has been appointed as Enablers to deliver a new community of 9 custom build homes at Callum Park, Lower Halstow, Kent.

The site, which overlooks the River Medway, is being enabled in partnership with a local development company.

Callum Park will allow the homeowner to design the interior layout and spaces of their homes, which are then delivered as a Blank Canvas, a plastered and painted shell with services brought to each room and capped.

Upon purchase homeowners will then have access to ‘My Custom Build’, a digital platform that gives freedom of choice when designing all their internal spaces, including the kitchen, bathrooms, dining and living areas.

We look forward to updating you on this exciting opportunity in the coming months.

If you wish to register your interest in this location, please visit complete this simple form:

Custom Build Homes (CBH) welcomes the new “Help to Build” Equity Loan Scheme (‘Help to Build’) announced by the Government today (26 November 2021) to support the diversification of the new homes sector and create additional housebuilding through the commissioning of custom and self-build homes. The scheme, which will be made be available across England, will enable more people to access mortgage finance to build or customise their own homes.

The Prospectus, published today, sets out the detailed design of Help to Build which, when launched officially, will stimulate the supply of opportunities for custom and self-build housing and begin delivering against pent up demand from younger homebuyers and those on modest incomes. 

The scheme is being initially rolled out for four years with a funding allocation of £150 million, administered by Homes England.

The scheme has been in design for some time; indeed, it was first announced in the November 2020 Spending Review and has remained an important Manifesto commitment of the present Conservative Government. 

The scheme has been designed in a similar way to the hugely successful new build product “Help to Buy”. It works by the Government committing to providing homebuyers with an equity loan equivalent to 20% of their agreed land and build costs. The funds are paid to the mortgage lender on completion of the build and homebuyers have a period of 5 years to repay the loan (without interest), as is the case with Help to Buy. In return for this commitment, mortgage lenders have agreed to fund custom and self-build projects with only 5% of land and build costs being required as a mortgage deposit. This is a stark improvement on the average deposit currently for a custom home, which sits at 15%, therefore it is likely to attract many new homebuyers to the sector, including first-time buyers.

CBH projects that £150 million could fund up to 2000 new custom or self-built homes, and while the funding is welcomed, it hopes the Government will continue to invest in the scheme if take-up is good because the statutory demand for custom and self-build housing already sits above 60,000 in England. The law dictates this number of units be supplied through the planning system within three years, under the Self-Build & Custom Housebuilding Act 2015, and much of the demand for this type of housing is made up of younger homebuyers seeking an alternative to volume built new homes.

Another factor that may constrain take-up is that the scheme does not cover any consultancy costs associated with a self-build project, such as those required for architecture, planning and engineering. These costs can be significant and will remain a barrier to entry for many who would otherwise be able to access the scheme. This will place an emphasis on the emerging custom build housing sector to bring to market sufficient opportunities to ensure the scheme is fully subscribed and can attract further Government investment to keep pace with increasing consumer demand for choice. This burden to deliver custom build opportunities will be felt by custom build Enablers, who Homes England now have a recommendation to support following The Bacon Review into the delivery of custom and self-build homes, earlier this year.

Tom Connor, CEO at CBH said:

“CBH is working hard to develop customisable housing products that breakdown the barrier of bespoke architecture and design, making it possible for more people to live in a custom home. While “Help to Build” is not a silver bullet for delivery in the sector, it’s another big sign that custom and self-build has the Government’s attention and that it is making good on its pledge to support delivery on behalf of the huge consumer audience that’s assembling.”

Full details of the scheme can be found here

Custom Build Homes (CBH) is delighted to announce that Chris Phillips has accepted the role as its Non-Executive Chairman with effect from November 2021.

Chris brings over five decades of leadership experience in Real Estate, Fund Management and Corporate Finance, most notably during his time as Chairman of Places for People.

Tom Connor, Founder & CEO at CBH said:

“We are delighted that Chris has accepted the position of Chairman of CBH. His appointment strengthens our leadership team and brings a wealth of experience, to help our development as a company. CBH operates in a rapidly scaling sector and Chris will help us navigate the industry through a period of accelerated growth for the business.”

CBH is the UK’s first national Enabler of custom build housing, delivering customisable housing products of varying size, type and tenure across development sites, offering homebuyers greater levels of design choice than a traditional new build home.

Of his appointment, Chris commented:

“I am delighted to be joining CBH at this exciting stage of its development. I believe that UK housebuilding will start to diversify over the next 5 years, so that custom build housing forms an increasing part of the new housing delivery. CBH has an excellent proposition for this sector and is well-placed to benefit from this growth.”

Chris held the position of Chairman at Places for People PLC, one of the UK’s largest property management, development, regeneration, and leisure companies, for 10 years. Throughout his tenure he oversaw several growth areas including Places Leisure and expansion of its Affordable Housing and Build to Rent businesses. He helped to grow and manage assets of £4.9bn and over 11,600 employees.  

In parallel with his role at CBH, Chris continues to Chair London & Newcastle, a mixed-use development company, Shetland Space Centre, a satellite launch site and ground centre based in Shetland, Scotland, and Nova Innovations, a tidal energy company based in Edinburgh.

Custom Build Homes (CBH) has been shortlisted twice for the upcoming Build It Awards 2021, in the category of Best Custom Project or Model.

The two projects shortlisted are Lowfield Green in York and Trinity Mews in Durham. 

The development at Lowfield Green in York saw an allocation of custom build housing for part of a wider new build scheme built on a former school site, which saw two plots ring-fenced for first-time buyers, a UK first for the custom and self-build housing sector.

CBH acted as Enablers on behalf of City of York Council and their shared success has resulted in a second site to the north of the city being identified to deliver more custom homes from 2022.

Trinity Mews in Durham is one of the first developments to be entirely bespoke, with CBH appointed to enable the delivery of nine custom homes in collaboration with their in-house team. The development, which sits to the south of the city benefits from a Design Code and Plot Passports that have aided and accelerated the design and planning process for homebuyers as well as serving to ensure the place develops a sense of cohesion while offering scope for freedom of expression in architecture.

Annually, the Build It Awards celebrate and recognise excellence and innovation in the custom and self-build sector, from design, construction, and finance.

The awards will be held on Friday, 26 November 2021 at a special ceremony in the Hilton Bankside Hotel, London. 

Hester McQueen, Chief Marketing Officer at Custom Build Homes, said: 

“Following recent success at the Awards in 2019, where the CBH enabled development, Long Four Acres won the Best Custom Build Project or Model, we are delighted to be back again this year with two nominations alongside our local authority clients.

“The increasing involvement of local authorities in the custom and self-build sector is helping to drive diversifications in new build supply and create additional quality housing which this country so desperately needs.”

Custom Build Homes (CBH) has been appointed as Enablers to deliver an allocation of custom build homes as part of a new 85-unit net zero development on the former Burnholme College site, in Burnholme, York.

The site, which is being developed by City of York Council (CYC) as part of a Housing Delivery Programme that will deliver 600 new homes across several “green and healthy neighbourhoods” will include a mix of apartments and houses designed by award winning Architects Mikhail Riches. As part of the mix, five serviced plots for detached custom homes will be made available to local people to design and create a place that suits.

CBH’s appointment by CYC to enable the delivery of the allocation comes on the back of their shared success at a previous development, Lowfield Green. This site saw six homebuyers offered the opportunity to design and create a bespoke home and has recently been shortlisted for Best Custom Build Development Project at The Build It Awards 2021.

Development updates will be available at custombuildhomes.co.uk and we project sales to launch in late 2022.

John Baird, Enabling Manager at Custom Build Homes, said:  

“The development at Burnholme will create a unique and new community of housing. The high sustainability standards that are being implemented through the design will produce a great example of how new housing and places can be delivered.

“City of York Council have always been very proactive in creating a diverse supply of housing and it is encouraging to see this development include serviced building plots for custom-build. These plots present a great opportunity to design and create an energy efficient home within a well-designed place.”

If you wish to be kept informed about this community please complete this simple form:

The Government have today (Saturday, 21 August) published the results of the Bacon Review following a commission by the Prime Minister to set out a plan for a major scaling of self-commissioned housing across all tenures in England.

Custom Build Homes (CBH) welcomes the Report by Richard Bacon MP for South Norfolk which has taken several months to prepare. If fully implemented by the Government, it will lead to a significant increase in custom housebuilding – enabling many more people to create and design homes that work for them.

The Report which has been welcomed by Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, focusses on six main recommendations to open up the housing market and offer consumers much more choice in the homes they live in: 

The Review, which follows the recent publication of a Government Action Plan setting out what it plans to do support more people to build their own homes, has engaged a wide range of industry experts and other stakeholders, including those from abroad.

CBH had been closely involved in the Review through its Director of Planning & Strategic Engagement and ex-civil servant, Mario Wolf, who has supported Richard Bacon in his review. To assist, CBH was also requested to provided primary research to help better understand the preferences of consumers over where and what type of homes they want to build. This found that many people do not have a strong preference about building a home on a single plot or on a larger housing site. There is also an overwhelming consumer preference for commissioning a bespoke home, built on a serviced plot, from a contractor or builder and buying a customisable home. Top findings were: 46% of people have no preference whether they build on a single plot or whether they build alongside a group of other houses (i.e. a larger housing site) and 47% would prefer to build a bespoke home on a serviced plot with the support of a contractor or builder.

Commenting on the conclusions and recommendations, Mario Wolf, Director of Planning & Strategic Engagement at Custom Build Homes, said:  

“This Report marks a major milestone in the drive to scale-up the custom and self-build housing sector in this country and we welcome its conclusions and recommendations.

“Richard has looked comprehensively at the growth potential of custom and self-build housing as a driver for more and better designed homes and much greater consumer choice. He has concluded there is a significant market ready to be unlocked through a series of targeted actions. We look forward to continuing to work with Richard and the Government to secure the timely implementation of his recommendations.”

The market for custom build housing is growing rapidly and more and more landowners are coming forward with potential sites in response to consumer demand. What is needed is to convert more of these sites into real homes and showcase what this market is capable of delivering, as Bacon recommends.

For example, at CBH we recently launched a pilot custom build community at Trinity Mews, near Durham on public land in partnership with Durham County Council. We have seen high pent up demand and viewings for just nine plots in short time. We are also seeing this demand in other areas, often much higher than what local authorities are showing on their local registers. What landowners are looking for is the support to bring sites forward and more permissive policies where councils fail to meet their statutory duties. Bacon’s recommendations for exception sites and targets to be introduced should therefore be welcomed.

The Review has also identified an urgent need for Government to support greater investment into the sector and it recognises the important role that enablers can play to drive up scale through custom build housing, learning from other markets.

CBH is well positioned to enable a range of landowners to bring forward custom housebuilding at scale. Customisation and modern methods of construction are important market drivers and we know that our customers have strong preferences for these products. They have fewer defects and heating bills can be substantially lower, as buildings are higher quality, greener and built to last.

Bacon’s recommendations and the government’s ambition to delivering greener housing should also be welcomed. CBH data demonstrates that people want bigger homes and give the highest priority to plots and homes which are energy efficient, and which have a garden and garage.

All CBH developments are demand-led. With access to the UK’s leading database of over 100,000 people actively looking for an opportunity to have input into the design of their own home CBH can bring forward sites which accurately respond to local demand and market plots and homes to a ready audience. This data is also proving crucial to support planning applications and appeals.

With our market-leading knowledge of CBH policy and close engagement with Government CBH can also offer expert advice to create customisable developments to multiple different homebuyers at different price points, through optional upgrades, enabling new homebuyers to purchase homes they will love within their budget.

Through its parent company, The BuildStore Group, CBH is also well-placed to support custom projects with specialist mortgages and financial products, including specialist finance for landowners. Bacon has urged the Government to launch the Help to Build Equity Loan, a new mortgage to enable people to custom build a new home with only a 5% mortgage deposit, by September 2021, which should be welcomed and will be supported through the BuildStore Group.

CBH urges anyone who wants to self-commission their own home to sign up to the CBH Custom Build Register as soon as possible so that we can bring more custom build housing opportunities to market and for those who want to develop their land to contact us at custombuildhomes.co.uk

Trinity Mews is now fully reserved.

Custom Build Homes (CBH), in partnership with Durham County Council (DCC), today (Monday 2 August) announced the launch of Trinity Mews, Durham’s first custom build community in the much sought-after postcode – DH1. Trinity Mews is a collection of nine 3 to 5-bedroom bespoke homes, offering new homeowners the opportunity to design and create a house they will love and want to live in every day. 

Viewing days are confirmed for Friday 6 August, 2pm to 4pm, and Saturday 7 August, 9am to 11am giving potential custom homebuyers an opportunity to explore the area. These days are beneficial for potential purchasers as they can speak directly to custom build experts, to understand the technical process of building a bespoke home and design & planning packages, to financing their custom build.

“We’re really excited to launch the development to market. Trinity Mews offers people in Durham the unique opportunity of creating a new home exactly as they wish it to be while being supported by the experts at Custom Build Homes”, says Tom Connor, Founder of Custom Build Homes. 

Features and benefits of Trinity Mews include:

Trinity Mews is now available at custombuildhomes.co.uk, plots starting from £180,000. For more information on Trinity Mews, visit custombuildhomes.co.uk/plotstore/sites/trinity-mews/

CBH supported DCC to understand the demand in their area, CBH demand data was used to shape the Trinity Mews site. The public helped shape the new custom build development. This scheme has been created for the people who want to purchase a home at Trinity Mews and by those who live alongside. The public can continue helping shape custom build developments by signing up to the CBH Custom Build Register.

CBH is on a mission to make it possible for everyone to custom build their own home, to enable them to live in a home they love. Our Long Four Acres development won the 2019 Best Custom Build Development Build It Award. 

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has today (Monday 8 February) published its long-awaited revisions to the Planning Practice Guidance related to custom and self-build housing.

The Guidance, which was first published in April 2016 and updated in July 2017, plays an important part in the implementation of the Government’s Right to Build legislation and national planning policy under the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015, which was amended by the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

The intention to revise the Guidance was flagged by the Housing Secretary, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, in his letter to all local authorities in October last year and trailed in the Government’s recent response to the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission ‘Living with Beauty’ report.

Notable changes to the Guidance, include:

The Guidance also strengthens the messages about how councils should record suitable permissions under the legislation. Newly included are that councils need to consider whether an application, permission or development is for CSB; whether developers have identified that self-build or custom build plots will be included as part of their development and that the initial owner of the homes will have had primary input into its final design and layout; whether a planning application references self-build or custom build and whether a CIL or Section 106 exemption has been granted for a particular development. 

It also, for the first time, includes a clear signal that CSB can bring benefits such as diversifying the housing market, increase consumer choice and bringing innovation in design and construction.

Disappointingly, the guidance has failed to provide clarity on how viability considerations affect CSB housing. This is considered a missed opportunity to provide much needed clarity in this area and challenge gaming by those developers and landowners who want to avoid bringing forward plots in response to proven demand and local policies. The Guidance could also have offered more advice on how the CIL exemption for CSB works for multi-unit schemes.

Custom Build Homes will set out a full analysis of the changes to Guidance and its perceived impact on the self and custom build sector as soon as possible. The analysis will clarify and identify in more detail the main changes and their practical effect for custom and self-build housebuilding.

Commenting on the revised Guidance, Custom Build Homes’ Director of Planning and Strategic Engagement and former Director of the Government supported Right to Build Task Force, and ex-civil servant, Mario Wolf said:

“The need to bring the Guidance up to date has been pressing for some time, as Councils and practitioners have grappled with the Right to Build and questions around the application of national policy and the law in this area.

“Although we are seeing a lot of sites coming forward now for this form of housing, our clients remain frustrated by inaction and game playing by some Councils in how they exercise their statutory duties and unnecessary debate around the meaning and intentions of the Government’s policy. The changes that the Government has made to the PPG should therefore be welcomed.”

Also published alongside the Guidance for the first time is a new MHCLG Data Release which provides the figures reported by local authorities under their self-build and custom housebuilding duties for the periods 2016, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.

RTPI planners, Mario Wolf and Andy Moger, Associate Director at Tetlow King Planning who is a Member of the Right to Build Task Force, will be setting out their views on the Guidance changes and the published data in a detailed analysis shortly which will be published at custombuildhomes.co.uk.

The revised Guidance can be found here and the Data Release here.

Custom Build Homes (CBH) welcomes the government’s announcement (Tuesday, 20 July).

Custom Build Homes (CBH) welcomes the government’s announcement (Tuesday, 20 July) launching a range of measures to achieve its vision for building beautiful places and putting people at the heart of new neighbourhoods, with an expectation that new housing projects should include custom build as part of the housing mix. 

In publishing the National Model Design Code (NMDC) the Government has provided detailed guidance on the production of design codes, guides and policies to promote successful design. An important element of good design when planning for all new housing set out in the Code is to provide for a mix of homes that custom build where possible. This should give councils the confidence to secure custom build housing on larger sites and give preference to schemes where such housing is proposed as part of the mix.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government also announced a new Office of Place to drive up design standards, testing and piloting the NMDC.

The NMDC also includes supporting Guidance Notes which, for the first time, define what custom build housing is – namely new homes built on serviced building plots that are designed or customised for the occupant and the purchaser has input into the design, this can also include different house types and tenures. This helps to provide much needed clarification in terms of what type of housing Ministers consider to fall within the legal definition under the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 which is currently under review.

Design codes along with plot-based masterplans and plot passports are also recognised as important tools when planning for self-build and custom build.

To support the implementation of the NMDC the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has been revised to set an expectation that all local planning authorities are to prepare local design guides or design codes consistent with the principles in the NMDC and which reflect local character and design preferences.  The NPPF also expects that development which is not well designed should be refused.

New houses will also be expected to be built on tree-lined streets with an emphasis on well-designed local architecture and support for walking and cycling to boost health, wellbeing and happiness. 

The government aims to digitalise the planning system to streamline planning decisions supported by design codes and enable local people to better navigate and access the planning process with online map-based local plans. This will allow people to visualise local plans for development and participate more fully in the planning system. 

Mario Wolf, CBH Director of Planning & Strategic Engagement at Custom Build Homes, said:

“The changes to the National Planning Policy Framework and new National Model Design Code mark an important step change in the consideration of design quality and the use of design codes in the planning and development process.

“The recognition that custom build housing is as an integral part of well-designed new housing schemes should not be under-estimated and we will be advising our clients that it forms an increasingly important material consideration when new projects are submitted for planning.” 

CBH is well positioned to maximise the opportunities from this latest announcement for its clients. All our developments are demand led and sit well with this range of new planning measures. We generate data from our subscribers who have expressed an interest in creating their own home and use this data to inform our masterplans and customisable housing products to communities. We currently have a database of over 100,000 people actively looking for a building opportunity.

CBH specialise in the preparation of design codes and plot passports for self-commissioned housing projects and typically use these for all our development projects. This ensures the look and feel of the places we create take full account of local preferences and fit into an area’s local vernacular. We typically work with a range of different types of landowners and match the development opportunity to the preferences of people who are actively looking to create their own homes. This maximises value and ensures that the development is built out as fast as the market allows. 

Our schemes also align with the government’s ambition to deliver housing via more innovative and modern methods of construction (MMC) which the NMDC supports.

The delivery of custom build housing using MMC can be supported by design codes and maintain consistency where customisable house types are used on larger phased developments. MMC can also reduce time on-site and therefore disruption to new and existing communities, which is especially important on bespoke custom build plots as sites are built out.

Using MMC over traditional building methods can also improve building performance with higher levels of air tightness and insulation which can mean a more sustainable and energy efficient house for new homebuyers. This is also what our demand surveys for sites consistently tell us. Infill and brownfield sites within existing urban contexts could also benefit from our customisable housing products as the impact on the surrounding neighbours is minimised given the reduced time spent on site.

Custom Build Homes (CBH) is delighted to welcome its newest addition to the team, Ellie Burroughs, an experienced and talented architectural designer with expertise in architecture, urban design and planning.

CBH has taken the decision to bring urban design in-house as it seeks to gain further influence over creating places beyond individual homes. Ellie Burroughs represents the beginning of an exciting new team that will be tasked designing beautiful and sustainable new communities that will host custom build homes and their residents.   

Ellie joins CBH from award-winning practice, Aitken Turnbull Architects, Edinburgh. Ellie has a Master of Architecture (RIBA Part 2), with distinction focusing on flood-resilient housing. 

CBH was impressed with Ellie’s strong interest in community rich housing and place-making. To support her interest, she will continue in her role as director of Imagine If. Space CIC. This Edinburgh based collective focuses on education and research around co-housing and shared resources in housing. More recently, Imagine If. Space CIC won an RSA Medal for Architecture in the Open Exhibitions of Art and Architecture 2021. 

Tom Connor, Founder of Custom Build Homes, said:

“I am really looking forward to working closely with Ellie to develop our design ethos and style. Her obvious passion for community rich housing is infectious and I am sure CBH will provide her with an excellent environment in which to implement her ideas across larger schemes.”

Custom Build Homes (CBH) has welcomed Caitlin Andrew as its new Enabling Coordinator.

Caitlin joined the Enabling Team to support CBH in its mission of making it possible for everyone to design or customise their own homes – creating vibrant new communities where people want to live.  

Caitlin’s role involves managing the delivery of development projects from identifying land through to the delivery of new homes.   

As the UK’s leading custom build housing Enabler, we are delighted to shape future leaders in the sector. Caitlin graduated from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, in Urban Planning and Property Development.  

Leaders at CBH were impressed with Caitlin’s passion and enthusiasm for the sector. She demonstrated this through supporting the Heriot-Watt Property Society during her studies where she led discussions and debates amongst students of the construction and property sectors.  

CBH Founder, Tom Connor described the importance of Caitlin’s role at CBH, as it enters a new phase of growth and the importance of supporting young professionals within the sector. He said: 

“Custom Build Homes is at an exciting point in its growth, and our Enabling Coordinators are key to its success as they will accelerate custom build developments, making more opportunities available to homebuyers sooner. I’m delighted to have Caitlin join the company and I’m sure she will be a fantastic addition to the team. 

“Custom Build Homes strongly believes in supporting new emerging talent, right from the start of their careers.”

Custom Build Homes (CBH) has joined forces with specialist land promoter and development company Landström Group Ltd to unlock promoted land and deliver a custom build project near Hailsham, UK.

Landström operates on behalf of landowners to discover and maximise the potential of their land through the planning system. Their PropTech solution for identifying suitable land parcels for development is now bearing fruit as land appropriate for custom housebuilding is coming forward and Landström are recognising the opportunity to extend their proposition to become ‘Promoter Developer’.

The concept of ‘Promoter Developers’ has been advocated over recent years by CBH Founder Tom Connor. CBH is delighted to see land promoters, such as Landström, continuing with sites post planning, by creating serviced building plots and selling land direct to consumers. This approach is helping to unlock new sites for custom housebuilding and in turn maximising the return for their landowner clients. CBH looks forward to supporting this proposition as Enabling Partners in Hailsham.

The new custom build community, in East Sussex, benefits from Outline Planning Permission for five large detached homes. New homeowners will work with CBH to design and create their homes to meet their lifestyle needs now and in the future.

CBH is in the process of preparing a Design Code which will be utilised to secure Reserved Matters approval from Maidstone Borough Council and to set the parameters for individual house design, size, and specification.           

CBH holds the largest and most accurate database of people looking to create a new custom home in the UK. It includes people’s housing preferences and is used for shaping new custom build developments nationally. Therefore, as Enabling Partners, CBH is able to ensure customer propositions are being developed to respond accurately to known demand and marketed to an active audience.

Commenting on partnering with Landström, Founder of CBH Tom Connor, said:

“I am particularly excited to see Custom Build Homes collaborating with Landström.

“Their digital proposition for capturing the potential of land for housing is as interesting as it is proving successful and on the right sites is delivering land for custom and self-build homes.

“I am confident that together we can deliver fantastic new places for people to live, in homes they love,” he added.


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Custom Build Homes (CBH) welcomes the Government’s announcement today (Saturday 24 April) of a major Action Plan, including over £150 million funding, to help more people build their own homes.

The Plan, which comprises of new initiatives, marks a further step in the Government’s ongoing backing of the self-build and custom housebuilding sector in England: 

Each of the initiatives target an area of challenge which to date has constrained the growth of the sector and are expected to improve people’s chances of accessing a custom home. 

A new “Help to Build” mortgage will be launched to enable people to custom build a new home with only a 5% mortgage deposit. The scheme which is akin to the hugely successful “Help to Buy” product will also feature Government backed equity loan. Help to Build is expected to have a fundamental effect on the sector as it will open it up to a segment of the market which has been most affected by rising house prices and under supply of affordable new homes namely, young professionals, first time buyers and those on lower incomes.

CBH has access to the largest and most accurate database of people looking to create a new home nationally. This includes people’s housing preferences as well as information relating their preferred location and budget. From this, we are confident the Help to Build scheme can have a major positive impact on many people and boost the number of new homes delivered annually.

Another initiative announced is the Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF), which is designed to support local authorities to bring forward their brownfield sites for housing development and self and custom-build serviced plots. The fund makes up to £25 million capital grant available to eligible English local authorities to support the release of brownfield and greenfield sites they own, for self and custom build developments. The Fund, which will be administered by One Public Estate, must be utilised before March 2022. Funding is for capital works, to release local self and custom-build plots by the end of March 2024 and must address a local market failure. Priority will also be given to projects which align with the Government’s ambition to level up the housing market and the degree to which projects will support deprived areas of the country. 

While this measure is welcomed, the funding terms could be improved to enable local authorities to forge private sector relationships to access advice and professional services throughout the development process on their land. CBH has worked with a number of authorities with the desire and opportunity to bring forward custom and self-build housing but lack of funding and professional support has delayed progress. Furthermore, with only five weeks in which to make a full application uptake is likely to be reduced.

Part of the Government’s Plan includes a commission by the Prime Minister for Richard Bacon MP to prepare an action plan to develop a strategy for the major scaling of self-commissioned new homes, across all tenures, to boost capacity and overall housing supply. The plan will be published in the Summer with recommendations for Government policy. To date, custom and self-build has remained on the fringes of the housing market and has generally been seen as being out of reach for most homeowners. The report will look at what investment is required to change this and what we can learn from other successful markets. CBH will be engaging closely with this plan to ensure that its conclusions and recommendations are ambitious, practical and will deliver the desired impact so that all future homebuyers can aspire to design and create a home of their own in the future.

Alongside the report on unlocking sector growth, the Government has also committed to reviewing the Right to Build legislation, to ensure councils provide enough land and take proper consideration for these homes when making planning decisions in their area. With industry saying for some time that the law needs changing, we expect Government to look closely at issues like the charging of fees for people to register and how councils can be held to account if they fail to provide enough plots in line with demand. Changes to law could be put forward as early as the autumn, as part of potential new planning reform legislation.

The Government has announced it will continue to fund the Right to Build Task Force, to ensure councils, landowners and industry have access to technical support to bring forward more opportunities for self and custom build housing.

Mario Wolf, Custom Build Homes’ Director of Planning & Strategic Engagement, said:

“The Government’s Action Plan marks a significant milestone in the level of support which the Government is offering to anyone who wants to build or commission their own home.

“The Plan shows that the Government is serious about truly diversifying our housing market. By offering low-cost mortgages akin to Help to Buy, targeted funding for public sector land and commissioning the preparation of a report into the scaling up of self-build and custom build housing we can expect demand and supply for this form of housing to rise to new heights in the very near future. At Custom Build Homes we are ready to play our part.”

One Public Estate is urgently calling eligible English local authorities to bid for a share of the £75M Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF).

Custom Build Homes (CBH) welcomes the allocation of £25M for the Self and Custom Land Release Fund to encourage local authorities to unlock greenfield and brownfield sites in public ownership with viability issues, for self and custom build developments. Deadline for applications close Wednesday 2 June 2021.

CBH is working with a number of local authorities to bring forward new self and custom build developments. The company is in prime position to support local authorities to prepare their bids for projects that can be delivered within the parameters of the new Funds where there is evidence of real demand for our products. 

Commenting on the Fund, Custom Build Homes’ Director of Planning & Strategic Engagement Mario Wolf said: “This Fund is further evidence that the Government is serious about unlocking the potential of the self-build and custom housebuilding market and complements the support available to the private sector- so it should be welcomed.

“We will be looking to offer our support to our local authority partners to identify suitable sites and prepare a credible business case so they can access to the fund and work with them to bring high quality custom build homes to market in the timescales specified.”

Custom Build Homes welcomes the Scottish Government’s vision for housing in Scotland to 2040.

A vision where homes are affordable for everyone

The ‘Housing to 2040’ document demonstrates what the Scottish Government wants housing and communities to look and feel like, with actions on how to get there. It aims to deliver their ambition for everyone to have access to a high quality, warm, safe, energy-efficient and affordable home that meets their needs, in a community they feel part of and proud of.

Plans to deliver 100,000 affordable homes over the following ten years up to 2031/32. The vision’s aim is for everyone to have choices about where they live, no matter what tenure they live in.

“Custom Build Homes is delighted to see Scotland’s first long-term housing strategy including self-provided housing (which it recognises also includes custom build homes) as a core part of its Housing to 2040 route map, said Mario Wolf, Custom Build Homes’ Director of Planning & Strategic Engagement. 

“The commitment to a year-on-year increase in self-provided housing delivery to boost consumer choice and make it a mainstream housing option should be welcomed, he added.

Notable actions to deliver this include: 

More information can be found at https://www.gov.scot/publications/housing-2040-2/

Mario Wolf MRTPI, Custom Build Homes’ Director of Planning and Strategic Engagement highlights 2020 custom build milestones and what the sector has in store for 2021.

2020: A year in custom build housing

2020 will live in our memories in infamy for years to come! We remain in the depths of an unprecedented pandemic which has put our lives on hold for the foreseeable future until our national vaccination programme begins to have its effect. Despite all the negatives that happened in 2020, the housing sector has shown resilience during the economic downturn. Other sectors have, and are continuing to be, ravaged by national and regional lockdowns and stay-at-home policies

Imposed by the Government, but the housing market has remained active. Construction activity returned strongly after the first lockdown in Spring, with UK house prices hitting an all-time high of £250,000 in November with an average increase of 7.6% over the year to November 2020, according to the ONS, buoyed by the temporary stamp duty suspension on property sales in July and record low mortgage rates.

We have also seen these positive market signals reflected in our client engagement with more sites being identified for housing as landowners look for new opportunities to maximise value. We have also increasing consumer demand for self- build and custom housebuilding, reflected in statutory Right to Build Registers held by English councils and our Group’s demand register which has over 100,000 people looking for plots.

Drivers for moving home

At Custom Build Homes we are very clear that the pandemic has and will continue to change the property market, with homeowners wanting more from their properties. Home buyers now want more flexible indoor space and rooms for privacy, home offices, bigger gardens with space for pets, family- friendly local areas and more. Many are therefore attracted to what customisable homes have to offer. Not only for homes on individual building plots but also on larger housing sites.

Another driver has been and continues to be, the positive support which our sector is receiving on the public policy front from the Governments in England and Scotland.

Shaping policy

At Custom Build Homes we are working closely with our sector trade body (the National Custom and Self Build Association), the Government sponsored Right to Build Task Force and through our links to Government to shape the policy landscape for the benefit of the wider market.

August

In August, the Government published its White Paper on Planning for the Future which set out a fundamental reform package for the planning system in England. It received over forty thousand responses, including ours. We continue to engage with the Government to help shape these reforms from our sector perspective and remain in no doubt, when implemented, it will generate significantly more new opportunities for custom and self- build housing across England.

October

In October, the Housing and Communities Secretary wrote to all local authorities in England to remind them of their duties under the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 and launched a review of the legislation. The underlying aim of the review is to tighten the law and stamp out gaming by councils, to ensure they provide enough land and take proper consideration of custom and self-build housing when making local planning decisions.

We know from our own experience and those of our clients that many councils fail to grasp the implications of the legislation and seek to game the system by introducing barriers for people to register. Consequently, what we see is a suppressed version of the demand in these areas!

He also announced that the now outdated Planning Practice Guidance to support his national planning policy framework would be revised by the end of the year. Regrettably this has not yet happened despite the urgent need for policy clarification in several areas.

November

In November, the Chancellor announced in his Spending Review that as part of £2.2bn of new loan finance being provided to support house builders the Government will be introducing a new Help to Build scheme for custom and self-builders, and will provide more funding for SME housebuilders and Modern Methods of Construction. He also announced that Government would provide £100m of funding tosupport,amongstotherthings, the release of public sector land including for serviced plots for self and custom builders

December

In December, Homes England, the Government’s housing delivery agency announced it was simplifying how it engages with developers and housebuilders to bring its land to market. A new Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) – to be introduced in Jul 2021, will replace the closed shop of what has been the Delivery Partner Panel (DPP3). Our engagement with Homes England has given us confidence that custom build 

housing enablers and developers will have a key role to play in the DPS, to partner with developers and housebuilders to bring larger sites forward.

We also saw several planning appeals coming through which have established a number of principles for planning decisions involving custom and self-build housing.

These include;

August

In August, the Government published its White Paper on Planning for the Future which set out a fundamental reform package for the planning system in England. It received over forty thousand responses, including ours. We continue to engage with the Government to help shape these reforms from our sector perspective and remain in no doubt, when implemented, it will generate significantly more new opportunities for custom and self- build housing across England.

October

In October, the Housing and Communities Secretary wrote to all local authorities in England to remind them of their duties under the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 and launched a review of the legislation. The underlying aim of the review is to tighten the law and stamp out gaming by councils, to ensure they provide enough land and take proper consideration of custom and self-build housing when making local planning decisions.

We know from our own experience and those of our clients that many councils fail to grasp the implications of the legislation and seek to game the system by introducing barriers for people to register. Consequently, what we see is a suppressed version of the demand in these areas!

He also announced that the now outdated Planning Practice Guidance to support his national planning policy framework would be revised by the end of the year. Regrettably this has not yet happened despite the urgent need for policy clarification in several areas.

November

In November, the Chancellor announced in his Spending Review that as part of £2.2bn of new loan finance being provided to support house builders the Government will be introducing a new Help to Build scheme for custom and self-builders, and will provide more funding for SME housebuilders and Modern Methods of Construction. He also announced that Government would provide £100m of funding tosupport,amongstotherthings, the release of public sector land including for serviced plots for self and custom builders

December

In December, Homes England, the Government’s housing delivery agency announced it was simplifying how it engages with developers and housebuilders to bring its land to market. A new Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) – to be introduced in Jul 2021, will replace the closed shop of what has been the Delivery Partner Panel (DPP3). Our engagement with Homes England has given us confidence that custom build

housing enablers and developers will have a key role to play in the DPS, to partner with developers and housebuilders to bring larger sites forward.

We also saw several planning appeals coming through which have established a number of principles for planning decisions involving custom and self-build housing.

These include;

Inspectors are also testing whether a scheme will be built out for custom and self-build and looking to planning agreements to achieve this. Critically statutory registers have also been held to underestimate demand and that our Group’s demand data provides an important secondary data to consider.

Our Podcast with Christopher Young QC and Andy Moger MRTPI from Tetlow King Planning unpacked some of these issues with great insight. Watch it now >

In Scotland too we saw the publication of the Revised Scottish Planning Policy in December which includes positive planning policies supporting the provision of plots for self-build through local development plans.

The outlook for 2021 looks increasingly positive

So, as we move into 2021, where is the custom build sector heading and what can we expect on the policy front?

Although some analysts predict a slowing of the housing market as result of the pandemic, the extent of this will no doubt be affected by the Chancellor’s Budget in March and his decision on whether to lift the stamp duty relief or extend it further.

At Custom Build Homes we are optimistic that we will be seeing more custom and self-build projects coming forward. We know from our data that local plans are increasingly identifying new allocations for custom and self-build housing on small and large sites, as well as many of the new garden settlements planned. Landowners will increasingly look to custom build as a valuable housing model, to help win consents in the face of the 

public policy reforms and strong consumer demand.

Spring

In the Spring we can expect a game changing mortgage support product in the form of an equity loan being introduced by the Government for formal launch in the Autumn. If designed right, it will boost consumer demand further and build market confidence. We can also expect the launch of a Brownfield Fund to incentivis

councils to bring sites forward for custom build homes on public land.

Autumn

In the Autumn we can expect a wide ranging new Planning Bill to set the framework for the planning reforms. A downside of this is likely to be that local plan production will slow further as councils decide to wait for the implementation of the reforms. This will however create opportunities for new projects 

where councils have out of date plans and under perform on housing supply.

We can also expect more work to be done to build our industry capacity to take up the opportunities which are being created. An agenda we are closely engaging with.

Enabling developments

At Custom Build Homes we enable our clients to benefit from our unrivalled knowledge of planning practice for self- and custom housebuilding in the UK. 

If you have land or want to bring a custom build housing scheme forward, please contact us at enquiries@custombuildhomes.co.uk as we may be able to support you.

The emergence of custom build housing on smaller sites has been well documented following legislation passed in 2016 and successful pilot schemes by Custom Build Homes (CBH) and others.

We are delighted to have several larger sites on our radar and to be involved in the pre-enabling work that is required to support landowners and promoters to secure potential custom build development sites in local plans and achieve planning permission. 

Over the course of the previous 12 months we have been engaged by a SE of England based promoter to support them secure outline planning permission for 220 custom build homes, including 67 affordable homes, many of which will be delivered as intermediate affordable custom build homes, if permitted. 

Tom Connor, Founder at CBH said: 

“To continue to accelerate consumer understanding and demand for customised homes, the sector must be able to deliver housing at scale and at pace. We are excited to be able to support this scheme through the planning process as we believe it could really help to supply pent up demand from new home buyers for greater choice and affordable prices.”  

Our work to support the application to date has largely consisted to providing up to date demand assessments for custom and self-build housing in District and to shape the application to give confidence to planning officers as to the deliverability of the scheme as customised homes of varying types, sizes and affordable tenures. As such, we remain optimistic with regard to the planning outcome and we look forward to developing our plans for delivery further, together with all stakeholders. 

*Image credit: Land Logic Ltd