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October 2021 | Self build

Self-build momentum is growing

Sue Pedley is business development manager of Hanley Economic Building Society

The past 12 months or so have seen record levels of business across the purchase market for all property types. As these numbers slowly reset back to some kind of ‘normality’, it will be interesting to chart how the pandemic has impacted the choices people are making when it comes to their homes going forward.

For many people, this tough period has challenged priorities and aspirations when it comes to lifestyle choices.

And it’s little wonder as any period of sustained restriction is likely to entice more people to chase their dreams – especially ones which are property-related in the wake of such a robust housing market and highly competitive lending conditions.

Self-build has always been an intriguing prospect for many people and, speaking anecdotally, it appears that the pandemic has served to prise many of those off the fence who were not quite ready, willing or able to take that final leap.

Thankfully, there is now a clearer route to self-build finance and a range of creative solutions are emerging to encourage more self-builders to incorporate environmentally friendly concepts or unique construction types in the build. Awareness that is also generating momentum on a wider scale.

An independent review of the custom and self-build sector has recently recommended a major scaling-up of self-built homes to bolster overall housing supply.

The report calls for Homes England to take a greater role with the creation of a Custom and Self Build Housing Delivery Unit to establish serviced plots on housebuilding sites and support delivery at scale. It highlights the importance of raising awareness of self-builds and providing inspiration to aspiring homeowners through a show park.

The report urges the government to provide funding to communities to create more opportunities to build and argues for greater use of modern methods of construction (MMC) to create greener homes and help the government reach its net zero housing target.

The mortgage market is also doing its bit as a growing number of lenders are demonstrating an increased appetite for this type of business. Building societies, including Hanley Economic, are now lending on a wider range of construction methods and it’s encouraging to see increased demand and competition emerging across this sector. This demand was highlighted in the recent Twenty7Tec monthly mortgage market data which showed that the number of searches for self-build mortgages rose by 11.5% between July and August.

Education continues to play a major role within this process and, as within any specialist area of the mortgage market, criteria and product ranges will differ from lender to lender – as will attitudes to certain methods of construction and building types. However, there are many building societies, specialist lenders and expert finance providers who are on hand to support advisers and their clients every step of the way.  For those advisers who may need more information about the self-build process, we have a guide which has become a bit of a bible for both direct customers and brokers alike and we will continue to keep it up-to-date with new criteria and tips to help a variety of people through what can be an intimidating process

Self-build will always be something of a niche product type. However, as momentum continues to gather, this is an area where specialist knowledge and understanding of acceptable – and unacceptable – self-build property types/criteria can go a long way to delivering the types of solutions which can meet a range of ever-changing client aspirations.