According to 'Grand Designs' presenter Kevin McCloud, building your own home doesn't have to be a luxury limited to the wealthy. Instead, he is arguing that many people can create their own well-designed and sustainable homes.
One way is through community build projects, in which people pool their resources to build not only homes, but shared living spaces complete with childcare opportunities. Mr McCloud called it an interesting exercise in social sustainability, and encouraged people to do more of it because such practices create, as he put it, “a fantastic community.”
He pointed out that these community build schemes were good for both architecture and sustainability, and reflect how people used to build. They also made building your own home more sustainable and affordable.
Custom builds are another option. People work with developers, making use of their advice to design and build their homes, with the emphasis often being on the community surrounding each structure as much as on the home itself.
Mr McCloud said that he was interested in exploring new build models and ways of living, renting, or owning that allows people to become part of a community and does not stigmatise them. When residents feel fully integrated and connected to the place, they put roots down and take steps that strengthen their connection, such as joining the residents’ association or obtaining an allotment.
He offered the example of the Graven Hill development in Bicester, where a plot large enough for a three-bedroom house and garden can be bought for £149,000, complete with parking spaces for two cars. The resulting property must meet certain easily-followed guidelines, covering matters such as how the home will be supplied with energy and where it may be built on the plot.
By collaborating with local authorities, both methods can be used to create social housing. This model is already working in Berlin and other European cities, where the community-oriented approach produces one in 10 new homes.