Could this new building trend provide homes people want?

"According to RIBA research, 75% of people in the UK never want to buy a new home" 
  ...and we would say that this is quite a striking statistic! 

We recently attended an informative event that simply asked the question: “How do we, in the construction industry, increase the number of new houses that people actually want to live in?”

Rethinking the way we live: Custom-Build, held at the Building Centre in London, allowed members of the presentation panel the opportunity to offer a viable solution to this question through enlightening us on the benefits of “Custom-Build”.

What is Custom-Build and how does it work? 

Currently, within the UK, there are effectively two main routes people can adopt when it comes to creating new homes;
  1. Speculative Build: The most common route, whereby a typical housebuilder has a range of ‘standard’ housetypes available for selection and the customer is offered very little flexibility to make changes to layout and / or specification.
  2. Self Build: Defined as being ‘projects where someone directly organises the design and construction of their new home’ (
The proposal put forward by the panel was for a third option; Custom-Build. This offers a hybrid of both the Speculative-Build and Self-Build route, giving the customer more options regarding the design and layout of their new home, such as materials / aesthetics etc. It is a concept that has already been successfully implemented in other countries, and across Europe. The recently completed development at Almere, Holland provides a total of 3,000 Custom-Build plots and offers a totally unique place to live for the people brave enough to take the plunge!

In simplistic terms a Customer who wanted to pursue the Custom-Build route would ordinarily be presented with a serviced plot, as part of a wider site that already benefits from planning approval for the whole development. In order to minimise risk / exposure to a series of individuals, all of these preliminary planning work would be undertaken by a Developer, supported by a professional consultant team. The planning approval would then allow a Customer the freedom to design and build their own home to their specific needs, working with their own consultants and contractor(s), but all set within defined parameters, i.e. specific plot size, boundaries, planning constraints regarding height / massing etc.

This concept was a particularly interesting topic for discussion, not only for the reasons that it places a much greater emphasis on higher quality / bespoke design, tailored to suit a more ‘educated’ End User / Customer, but also given the recent Government ‘Right To Build’ legislation, which requires all local authorities in England to research the demand for Self-Build and Custom-Build plots. This legislation also places a legal obligation on them to maintain a list of people and groups who are interested in building their own homes.

It is considered the Government’s new stance acknowledges this has become a more prevalent issue following the increased media coverage in recent years of high profile design / architecture, via the like of TV programmes such as Grand Designs. The new legislation demonstrates the British public’s desire to change the way in which the UK approaches the construction of new homes and that they will not settle for the ‘standard’ products currently being offered.

On this basis, the concept of Custom-Build is certainly something that could well become the way in which we build the majority of homes in the future, and, with our extensive experience in designing individual / bespoke homes for clients, brp architects are well-positioned to offer assistance to people keen to pursue this route.

Click the link below to find out more about Custom Build opportunities from the National Custom and Self Build Association website:

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