Facit Homes Driving housing supply
Rhys Denbigh, head of new business at Facit Homes, investigates how self-build
has come in from the cold to fi nd itself at the heart of government housing policy
Dominic Raab, the current
Housing Minister, is not exactly
a household name, which could
have something to do with the
fact that he is the 16th person to
have held the post in the last 20
years. This gives us some indication as to why
government after government has repeatedly
failed to drive housing supply forward to deliver
anything like the number of houses we need.
For far too long, housebuilding in the UK
has been in the grip of big developers who have
underperformed, not just in the quantity of
homes they are building, but also in their quality
and design, which is often boring, unimaginative
But the remarkable inconsistency and
resulting lack of progress on housing policy has
one silver lining, and that’s the recent realisation
that there is another way to deliver new homes at
scale, besides trying to encourage developers to
Let ordinary people do it. People who are
excited, motivated, passionate; who have an
idea of the kind of home they want to live in
and are prepared to make it happen. Ease some
of their fears over fi nding a plot and securing
planning permission, which are the two biggest
worries facing most potential self-builders,
who tend to have a pretty good idea of that they
would like to build if they could just negotiate
those fi rst two hurdles.
Now the tide is turning and the government
is realising that self and custom-build (the
latter being where you buy a serviced plot and
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commission one company to design and build
your house) can play a big part in the solution.
In 2016, the government passed legislation to
make more individual, serviced plots available
for those wanting to build their own homes. As
part of the Planning Act 2016, local authorities are
now required to keep a list of people who would
like to build their own home, a Self Build Register,
and then make enough serviced plots available to
meet that demand within three years.
As a result, they hope to increase the number
of custom and self-build homes from the 12,500
built in 2015 to 20,000 a year by 2020. That’s quite
a jump, but there is no reason it could not meet
that target and continue to grow.
To meet this demand there are one or
two councils being quite innovative in their
approach, such as Cherwell District Council in
Oxfordshire, which has set up the UK’s fi rst ‘Plot
Shop’ at Graven Hill, a development set to deliver
1,900 new homes with the majority being self and
custom-build. Aiming to remove the stress and
risk from the process by offering customers the
chance to purchase a serviced plot, with water,
drainage, gas and electricity supplies already
in place and a fast-track planning procedure,
Graven Hill is a ground-breaking concept in
this country. Although it’s still at the early
stages, some of the houses being built by the
early ‘pioneers’ look extremely exciting and the
development is gaining real momentum.
Since April 2016, over 33,000 people have
signed up to Right to Build Registers across
England, which is an astonishing number and
shows how, with the right legislative support,
there is a huge appetite for self-build. At Facit
Homes, we’re also seeing enquiries on the rise,
up 30% from February 2017 to February 2018,
as people are attracted by the lower risk of a
turnkey approach, appointing a single specialist
fi rm to handle the complete design and build of
their new home.
It’s taken a huge amount of effort to galvanise
the government and local authorities to support
self-builders, but the tide is now fi nally turning.
In France and Belgium, self-build accounts for
around 50% of all new house building, and in
Sweden around one third of new homes are
self-built, compared with around 10% in the UK.
With the technology now available to deliver selfbuilt
homes quickly, effi ciently and at scale, the
potential is huge.
Self-build is a great way to create more
interesting and appropriate housing, which
meets the needs and desires of customers,
rather than a ‘one size fi ts all’ approach. It is
often cheaper than buying a fi nished home from
a developer, due to considerable stamp duty
savings (stamp duty is only payable on the value
of the land, or plot, as opposed to the fi nished
house) and if you take a custom-build approach,
building materials and professional services
such as architectural fees attract a zero rate of
VAT, saving 20%.
But the best part is that you get a completely
bespoke home at the end, which has been
designed to suit your own tastes and lifestyle.
When you look at it like that, it’s no surprise that
with a little bit of government help and support,
the age of self-build is fi nally dawning.