Earlier this year, the minister asked the National Self Build Association (NaSBA) to work with government officials on an action plan for government to reduce barriers hampering those who want to commission construction of their own homes. That report has now been submitted.
Up to 20,000 people build their own homes in the UK each year, yet the UK has one of the lowest proportions of new homes built by self-builders in Europe. Mr Shapps said that he wants to see obstacles removed so that the self-build industry can become a mainstream housing option.
The NaSBA report sets out the main challenges holding the self-build industry back: the availability of land and finance, lack of support from industry for new self-builders and the impact of regulation.
The report sets out 15 proposals for action, including:
- More land should be made available for self-builders. Government to ask councils to gauge the demand for self-build in their area and account for this in their planning strategies.
- New implementation models are required, which include making serviced plots available to self-builders.
- Lenders should be encouraged to offer more finance products for those building their own home.
- Revolving funds should be made available to support group self-build schemes, which Mr Shapps has pledged to consider.
Some of the regulations hampering the growth of the sector should be removed or simplified. Government should introduce more proportionate planning rules for small developments.
The self-build industry itself needs to provide clearer independent information to would-be self-builders. A new online self-build portal is proposed to enable more people to get a project underway.
Mr Shapps said that he would consider any proposed action for government, prioritising those that could have the biggest and quickest impact on the growth of the sector.
He pointed to the government action already underway as a sign of its commitment to growing the industry. He has asked banks and building societies to make more finance options available to those looking to build their own home.
Government is also promoting the use of publicly owned land for self-build housing, earmarking land at Hemel Hempstead for self-builders as part of plans to release more land for redevelopment. Further appropriate sites are being sought. Mr Shapps also put forward the view that the Localism Bill, which aims to devolve planning power to community level, would also help self-builders
Mr Shapps said: "Self builders deliver affordable, greener and more innovatively-designed homes, and make a big contribution to the number of new homes built in this country. But there is still significant opportunity for growth in the sector which can only be opened up if government and industry work together.
"Government is already taking significant steps to make self-build not only more attractive but also more accessible. But I pledge to continue pushing for further action to make self-build an easier option for everyone.
"That's why I will be meeting with some of our biggest retailers to discuss how they can help support the growth of the sector and I challenge the industry to get behind the proposed self-build 'portal'. And I will immediately begin looking into the practicalities of establishing suitable revolving fund facilities for community self-build projects, so that more projects can get off the ground."
Ted Stevens, chairman of the National Self Build Association said:
"This action plan is the most positive development in the self-build sector for probably 50 years, and if we are able to deliver on the key recommendations, we could see significant growth in the self-build sector, and result in tens of thousands of additional people being able to build their own affordable properties. In turn this will create jobs, stimulate growth within the self-build supply chain and help people get the custom designed, modestly priced and very sustainable homes they really want."
For the Building Societies Association, head of mortgage policy Paul Broadhead said: “Obtaining finance for self-build is sometimes seen as a complicated and arduous process, and I hope the launch of the report will go some way to dispelling some of the myths surrounding self-build."