For aspiring homeowners in the UK, community self-build projects are improving their chances of finding a plot and building their own home.
Three government programmes have combined to present self-build as a viable option from both political and social perspectives. Local authorities are now required to evaluate and accommodate the need for self-build in their areas; communities now have power under the Localism Act to grant planning permission for appropriate neighbourhood projects, and the former housing minister initiated actions to raise the number of self-builds throughout the UK.
Community self-build encompasses a wide range of self-build projects completed by a group of people. The ideal group size is between six and fifteen families: fewer numbers would result in higher shared costs.
There are five primary types of community self-build project:
1. The group purchases the land outright using mortgages and individual savings.
2. Group members all buy their own individual plots, with a pre-established consensus on site layout, plot sizes, etc.
3. The group joins a co-operative or housing association that jointly owns the site and properties. Members pay low rent or become part owners through a shared equity arrangement.
4. Members acquire homes in a co-housing arrangement that includes communal facilities such as a children’s park, a laundry or a communal dining area.
5. A landowner or developer makes land available to self-builders and manages the process. The group has autonomy and sets its own rules.