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Shapps launches bid to turn Britain into nation of self-builders

A package of measures to give as many people as possible the opportunity to build their own homes has been launched by housing minister Grant Shapps – amid the astonishing claim that 14,000 people a year are already self-building.

If correct, the number puts the achievements of Britain’s biggest builders well and truly in the shade: last year, Barratt could only manage 11,171 homes, whilst Taylor Wimpey built 10,180.

Shapps also claimed that a budget of £150,000 would be enough to self-build a three to four-bedroom home.

He was joined at the launch at 10 Downing Street by self-build experts including Kevin McCloud.

Shapps said new measures would, for the first time, enable anyone wanting to don a hard hat and build their own home to get the help, advice and support they need to get started.

He said: “Last year, self-builders accounted for about 14,000 new homes in this country – more than many large commercial builders.

“Yet our self-build industry still lags behind much of the rest of the world, with the opportunity to build your own home seen as something only for a select few.

“That’s why today I’m pledging to back the self-build boom and support the industry to double in size over the next few years.

“As well as a new website giving help and advice, we’re working hard to identify more land for development and have reformed the planning rules to stop people’s aspirations getting tangled in red tape.

“This package of measures is designed to ensure anyone looking to build their own home gets the support they need – and with the numbers of mortgages available set to rise by a massive 141%, there’s never been a better time for people to lay their own foundations.”

Ted Stevens, chairman of the National Self Build Association, said: “More than half the UK population would like to one day build their own homes, and around two million families are keen to get their projects off the ground in the very near future.

“The new self-build portal will help them figure out what, realistically, they can afford to build; it will explain how their budgets can go further if they team up with other would-be self builders or do a portion of the work themselves, and it highlights the parts of the UK where it can be cheaper to find a site and construct a home.”

Kevin McCloud, whose ‘Grand Designs’ programme regularly features self-build projects that have gone way over budget, said: “I believe we can become a nation of self-builders.”

The claim that there will be a 141% rise in self-build mortgages was made in a Datamonitor report in January. However, the report also says that self-build mortgages would only account for 1% of all lending even after such growth.

Source: EAToday 25 April 2012