Message from our Founder

This year has been a hard year, probably the hardest many have experienced in their lives. But has it also been a good one?

I believe so, because covid-19 has forced change where change was seemingly impossible and the long term benefit to people will far outweigh the suffering this virus has caused. 

As the pandemic began to alter our lives this Spring, we collectively went through several distinct phases. The first was panic, where we all feared for our safety and our futures. The second was adapt and survive, as we tried to make sense of everyday life which had fundamentally shifted. The third was ominously dubbed "the new normal", where we tip-toed bravely into the unknown wearing masks and keeping our distance from strangers and loved ones alike. And the fourth... well the fourth is for 2021, it is the belief that we wouldn't go back!

Please understand that when I say we wouldn't go back, it is in no way trying to underplay the loss and suffering so many people have endured. It is simply to say that although 2020 has been arduous, the consequences of it have in many ways been positive. Custom Build Homes is on a programme for scaling companies and is supported by NatWest PLC. It is fair to say the emotional lifeboats were deployed in the form of multiple Zoom meetings with mentors who desperately tried to help young and relatively inexperienced entrepreneurs steady their ships and chart a new course towards stability, even if that meant making tough decisions and changing much of their operation, even temporarily. It was about survival. I was no stranger to those calls, because there was times this year where I questioned, second guessed and felt paralysed as to what the right decision to make was, when the landscape which had seemed welcoming in February quickly confused and changed on almost daily basis. But within all the turmoil adaptation was underway and when I speak with other business leaders in similar stages in their journey to mine, the one view everyone seems to share is that the changes we were forced to make, has had a profoundly positive impact on their business and how they view the needs of their clients and customers. Under the weight of intense pressure to survive there was a sense of clarity around what was needed to push through and learning those lessons at this stage of my journey I am confident will prove invaluable. 

On a less personal note, the effects of lockdown led to many other people making positive changes in their lives, such as; eating as families or checking in with single family members or friends to do quizzes via Zoom. We saw large numbers of people learn to cook, to bake or challenging themselves physically by doing Couch to 5km running programmes or taking to meditation. The removal of the daily commute meant that those who were able to work from home still benefitted from more time in the mornings and evening. This time was was used to exercise or be present with their kids which I am sure boosted their mental health during periods of worry. All these new hobbies and interests didn't come without their obstacles however, and the most prevalent was the blatant inadequacies of many people's homes. 

Since Custom Build Homes began early trading in 2016, it has been beating the drum and chanting messages designed to make those with influence realise that although the vast majority of new homes are delivered by a select few volume providers, their copy and paste style stock of unimaginative house designs do little to enhance the lives of those who are forced to purchase them. Ironically, as people were required to actually live in their homes for extended periods of time, inefficiencies quickly shone through and people began to make their demand for greater housing choices known, loudly and often. 

The Custom Build Register and its sister portals operated under the BuildStore Group has long been considered a credible and trusted source of housing demand data for those wishing to design and create a custom home which meets their individual needs and budget. Since April, there has been an unprecedented surge in people wishing to custom or self-build a home, if a plot could be found in the areas they wish to live. The emerging custom housebuilding market which Custom Build Homes operates within and has set out to scale was largely considered to be best grown via controlled self-building on multiple plot sites. But as there is only ever so many people with the budget and where-with-all to build their own home, the large demand populations making noise throughout 2020 is surely made up of factions of the new homes market place that have become disgruntled or disillusioned with how life has been in their volume built homes this year. This increased and new demand population presents significant opportunities to scale custom build housing, but to be successful in doing so, how custom build homes are delivered may also have to change. 

As we move into 2021, I believe customised housing will prove to be very popular among homebuyers of every demographic and affordability band. As such, Custom Build Homes will be developing their customisable housing range which will enable people to customise the exterior vernacular and internal room layout of their homes without any up-front design costs. They will also be able to secure their new homes as "CBH Blank Canvasses" to either self-finish or they will be able to benefit from a discrete interior design and fit-out package, which we aim to launch this Summer, in line with new development launches. 

With the added bonus of being plugged into the shaping of a new Government backed "Help to Build" Equity Loan Scheme via BuildStore and NaCSBA, we are looking forward to continuing our work with several local planning authorities to bring forward increasingly creative schemes while ensuring they're affordable to all. 

I wish everyone a fantastic end to 2020, stay safe, stay positive and have fun! 

Tom Connor



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