Self-Building ‘Vital’ To Fix UK’s Broken Housing Market

Encouraging more people to self-build is an essential element of fixing the UK’s broken housing market, an MP has suggested.

Politics Home reported on the comments by Richard Bacon, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on self-build, custom-build and independent housing, at the British Building Conference hosted by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Mr Bacon told attendees at the event that one of the big issues with the UK’s housing market is that it doesn’t meet people’s aspirations or keep up with demand. He went on to stress that it’s essential to put customers “in the driving seat”.

He also cited research from the FMB, which found that 67 per cent of people don’t want to buy the homes being designed, constructed and put on the market by the country’s house builders. As a result, Mr Bacon believes that local councils should provide serviced building plots and allow more people to self-build.

This means it would be possible for homeowners to “do what they want rather than what other people tell them they want”, he stated.

Mr Bacon added: “It is much greener. It empowers the vulnerable. It can look modern or classical or traditional. Local authorities can get as involved in design codes as they wish.”

For many people, it wouldn’t be a case of them self-building, but rather commissioning small and medium-sized (SME) builders to do the work for them and subsequently ending up a with a home that they really love.

Nicky Morgan MP agreed that SME house builders are vital to the future of the UK’s construction industry, and will play a “major role” in terms of creating homes that are fit for purpose in the future.

If more councils decide to go down this route, it could lead to a rise in demand for timber manufacturers who produce timber frame homes. These kinds of properties can be constructed very quickly, because much of the work is carried out offsite before they are brought to the site and assembled.

An article for Raconteur recently suggested that architects in the UK need to change their perceptions of prefabricated buildings and view them as an opportunity rather than a threat to their profession.

Speaking to the publication, Simon Bayliss, managing partner at HTA Design, the architecture practice responsible for student accommodation Apex House that was built using modular construction, explained that there are a number of reasons some architects are resistant to this new approach.

“There are probably some architects who slightly fear it and fear a loss of control or creativity,” Mr Bayliss said, adding that these fears are unfounded.

If anything, this kind of construction can give architects more freedom and the ability to be more creative, David Birkbeck, chief executive at Design for Homes, told the news provider.

“You’ll see architects creating far more interesting plan forms and giving people huge variety of choice,” he stated.

This all ties back into Mr Bacon’s comments about giving consumers – in this instance homeowners – greater control over their living spaces. Instead of having to fit into properties that have been built already, they can shape their homes to better suit their lives.