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Princeofpounds

Why Mass-Build Vs Self-Build

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Been reading the thread on land ownership in the uk, and one where Bovis was talking about buying more land in the 'resilient' south east, and it got me thinking...

Why is our country so utterly dominated by corporate mass-builders? And why so little self-build?

By self-build, I mean the loosest possible definition. I very familiar with France and Belgium, and it seems that in most suburban or semi-rural areas almost all the houses are built by the owner (using architects, builders and project managers perhaps, but owner-initiated).

Many of these are even semi off-the-shelf designs, but unlike the uk where you have row upon row of identical houses since Victorian times you might be individual in your street but maybe the same as a house in the next village.

The cost and effort involved is presumably similar, so the difference I thought must lie in the ease of access to land and planning permission. So why so little of this in the uk? The corporate building firms seem to have no trouble getting permission for thousands of units a year, on agricultural land, yet I don't know a single individual in the uk who has managed the same.

Is the mass process somehow easier? Does it allow councils to micromanage to their targets and avoid working on individual sites? Is it just because they have planning consultants to tick all the boxes? Is it all bribes? Or are people just not trying to build their own places?

Anyone ever been through a build on a site that isn't total brownfield, or work for a builder or in Planning with an insight?

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Been reading the thread on land ownership in the uk, and one where Bovis was talking about buying more land in the 'resilient' south east, and it got me thinking...

Why is our country so utterly dominated by corporate mass-builders? And why so little self-build?

Because (y)our politicians are patrician and corrupt.

In Australia, self build is very common and satisfying as you get what you want, but that is changing as the scum finally get control. For a long time there were lots of small land developers too, but the brown paper bags from the big guys have now made that almost impossible to do nowadays.

Edited by Tiger Woods?

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The ex-head of our local council planning department has just been reincarnated as a lobbyist for Persimmon - no conflict of interest there then :angry:

Lots of brown envelopes flying about to ensure that the big firms get all the chunks of prime countryside that are being divvied up for new housing around here but anyone trying to get planning permission on an individual plot for a modest self-build here is told to ****-off by the planners.

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Which is going to bring in more tax - large companies quickly building lots of identical bland boxes, or individuals doing something without wanting to make a profit but to live in, and probably with a bit of character? Wouldn't mind so much if the large-scale building actually managed a bit of quality and character but that seems to have gone out of fashion a century ago.

On a less cynical note I suspect that most people don't want the hassle, particularly since they've got to live somewhere, and pay for that too, whilst it's being built.

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On a less cynical note I suspect that most people don't want the hassle, particularly since they've got to live somewhere, and pay for that too, whilst it's being built.

Obviously doesn't apply to the psyche of the French, Belgians, Germans, ..................

It is all about control and maxiising the profit on the land banking deals by all those involed with it - the housebuilding bit is almost an afterthougt - whatever shit they can sell.

Edited by OnlyMe

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Obviously doesn't apply to the psyche of the French, Belgians, Germans, ..................

It is all about control and maxiising the profit on the land banking deals by all those involed with it - the housebuilding bit is almost an afterthougt - whatever shit they can sell.

Lots of things don't apply to the psyche of people in other countries. I honestly can't see many people going down the self-build route here even if it was significantly easier unless it was also much cheaper. I know that I wouldn't (because I don't want the hassle, working out how to finance it whilst paying to live somewhere else, and because I'd far rather live in an old house anyway).

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Thanks for all the replies. Reading through them it sounds like a lot of people are basically blaming financial incentives but it seems like not many people know much about the real process involved. It's one of things I've found - it's just so opaque and almost secretive.

The ex-head of our local council planning department has just been reincarnated as a lobbyist for Persimmon - no conflict of interest there then

I have a feeling that the system might be more along these lines - soft rather than hard bribes. I.e. 'let's have a discussion about the extension the building zoning in the next masterplan, and maybe we'll think about making you our consultant sometime'. Or consultants in the firms going to the planners and saying 'If you approve zoning on this set of fields we can make sure you'll hit your targets for affordable housing in one swoop'. Basically the mix of relationships and the policy-speak code which makes it a closed shop.

What margin do mass housebuilders make on different types of property?

Development margins tend to be 20% or so, although it's very volatile because prices can go up or down in the time it takes to complete a project.

Most value over time accrues to the people who manage to upgrade the planning permission on the land, not the builder (although most of the big corporate builders try to do precisely this).

The big builders still suffered in the crisis for a couple of reasons - although the had made stacks of money on land and building, that money was all recycled back into land at ever-higher prices. So they were looking at making big losses once prices looking like falling on their existing landbanks, even if development could still be profitable if you could buy land and magic a house into existence at spot prices. They also suffered not from being unprofitable but from being unable to manage their cashflow - they had borrowed too much short-term money, which the banks wanted back midway through projects even if those projects might have generated profit even in a depressed situation.

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I've been very interested in self building but the lack of land with planning permission has always put me off. Self build mortgages aren't as easy to get but seem possible.

I do a lot of project management in my day job and the thought of taking on a project of that scale doesn't put me off at all even if it's my money (or the banks but I'm liable for it) on the line.

From what I've seen in order to get a plot in the south east you need to find one with a run down house on it, get planning permission and then demolish the existing house and then start building.

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I've been self building (same home) for the last three years. We moved in about a year ago and still have another 18 months worth of work ahead of us before the project will be "complete".

I've often wondered the same thing as the OP about relative lack of self build in the UK vs some other countries in Europe.

Ok, lets ignore the elephant in the room of high land prices. This is the obvious reason why most of the dwellings that are self built in the UK appear to be detached "dream home" type properties. Regardless of what will happen to prices in the future, the market over (most) the last 10 years has been driven by land prices and 'demand', so this is what has shaped the recent history of self build. I'll list what I see as some of the issues that are preventing more self builds from starting:

Lack of suitable land: Policy and housing density puts self builders at a general disadvantage to mass developers. Generally someone wanting to build their own home, will want to do just that, build something for themselves, so whether a modest bungalow or a large mansion, it is going to be a site for 1 "house" which will be required. These are in short supply. Developers will always be in competition (I'm talking small scale developers who do a few houses or a small estate at time, not the mass developers). So a self builder is usually going to have to pay over the odds to get the site that they want, to beat off the competition from other builders and self builders. Generally my own perception is that those who are able to do so, are 'willing' to do it because they are ultimately getting something that they will value for themselves. A house deigned to their own requirements and not an identikit replica built for profit and not quality of living requirements.

Funding: High cost of land aside, generally speaking a self builder is going to need more in terms of a deposit to fund the project, than someone who is building a similar size house in a similar areas. Even is the self build (due to alternative construction methods and bypassing the 'Developer' profit will ultimately be "cheaper", the short term barrier of entry is much higher. Even if land prices crashed 90% across the board, these principles would still apply to a self builder, but the barrier would bite a little lower down the food chain.

Example: "Typical" relatively modest average detached home. Lets say 200k (I know average house prices are a lot less, but one can't self build a flat or a terrace house very easily, we're not taking about renovation after all). In recent history, and I'll limit the stats to non liar loan situations, you could probably have quite easily bought such a house for 5% down and meeting the mortgage multiples, plus a few grand for stamp duty and fees.

The same property might comprise of 60k to 100k of land costs (typically on a self build mortgage, this would require at least 10% deposit, but most likely 15%.. all depends on individual financial situation). Then at least a similar amount of the 1st stage build costs. So before you start someone would need about 10 to 15% of the "value" of the end product to get the ball rolling.

There have been plenty of self build mortgages available, though I don't doubt that availability of 'sympathetic' lenders has been a problem. But I bet that the market has shrunk since 2008 like many other aspects of the mortgage market. (but lets assume a relatively normal functional mortgage market to continue the discussion). But the proportion of the mortgage market which has fully supported self build is much smaller, therefore the interest rates charged are a little higher than those which are aimed at simple purchase. Certainly the mortgage which offered the best rates have required high equity/deposits.

Next there are lots of fees that the self builder will need to come up with which are not require up front from a off the shelf purchase:

  • Planning permission
  • Architectural
  • Site insurance
  • Structural survey/oversight for structural insurance (think NHBC for self builder).
  • Site services connections.

All these can run from 100s to a few grand depending on the scale of the project, complexity and the remoteness of the site from civilisation. Again costs that a buyers of a "normal" house would not have to face since they are effectively

(a) reducing those costs to a certain extent since on a larger mass development the costs are reduced via economy of scale

(B) the portion of the cost passed onto the individual mass produced house, is paid for through 5% down deposit and rest on the never never.

Then on top of that the self builder will have to find/fund somewhere to live whilst they are paying for the build. This is a period of high stress and negative cash-flow! Stay with family is the cheapest. I was very fortunate to be able to do this. Others may have to stay in their existing home, possibly servicing a mortgage, or rent somewhere, again there is cost. Or face the relative hardship of living in a caravan for a few years.

Cost of building & Skills:

Mass builders build with the objective of maximising profits. This is obvious. But they have the benefits of economies of scale in materials purchase, professional services management and build labour, so their per unit cost is low. Not that purchasers ever get the benefit of that. I've lived in such a property in the past and I reckon that he construction cost would not have been any more than 25% of the "cost" of the house. (shell only).

A self builder can start off at an advantage on two fronts. They do not have to hand over any profit to a developer, and they can claim back most (but not all) of the VAT incurred during the course of construction (this is a complex subject by in its own right, so I'll limit to saying about 60 to 75% of the vat should be recoverable at least, dependant on how you work the build - all legal).

However not everyone has the skills to build their own house. So how much of the notional saving is actually realised depends on the approach.

  • 100% DIY - Most saving
  • 100% by small builder - least amount of saving.
  • Somewhere in the middle - managing it yourself, using direct labour (hire the trades yourself), which is the way I went is somewhere in the middle. But you can probably save 20% maybe more, if you do it that way.

I certainly did not have the time, skills or inclination to do much of the hard graft myself. I am not a builder by trade. But I did all the project management, materials ordering, and design and paper shuffling type of work. My wife managed the budget and helped chose the fittings etc.

The "Inconvenience" factor:

Financial considerations aside, building a house can be a very stressful experience, and requires a lot of time, dedication and effort. There can be problems with planning which can cause delays and endless changes to the design details.

It usually requires great compromise to quality of life for a few years whilst building is underway, forgoing holidays (for lack of time, if not money) to visit showrooms, builders merchants, etc. So I can see many people not wanting the hassle and find it far easier to pay "extra" to have a developer do all the work for them.

I effectively sold to rent back in 2005, seeing the writing on the wall. I saw self building as a potential route to 'building' in some protection against the inevitable crash. Since the "savings" made represented (at least in theory) a 25% to 30% buffer between market value of the property and the cost of land and building. Much of this has no doubt already been eroded. Bu I based my costs on 2004 valuations, so I probably have some buffer left. It will be needed lol. But we had intended to build a family home that we would live in for the time the kids were at home, my real concern was about protecting LTV as I did not want to end up in negative equity.

Whilst house/land prices do need to come down for the greater good of society and wider economy and those that have been priced out, I can only imagine that those in negative equity after a self build mush be queuing up for the mental hospital after all the effort they have put in! I know I would.

In conclusion, self build is not as easy as the TV shows make out, costs a lot more up front than buying a house off the shelf and entails a lot more work than many I dare say would be prepared to put in. But in the same time that I was building, friends of ours were doing up a derelict shell on a literally shoestring budget. Yet they have managed to do it with lots of hard graft and patience. So it is possible despite of of the status quo. It just depends what you are prepared to put in and how much you are prepared to put up with to get what you want.

I sincerely with anyone who is considering self build, or about to start the very best of luck!

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Obviously doesn't apply to the psyche of the French, Belgians, Germans, ..................

It is all about control and maxiising the profit on the land banking deals by all those involed with it - the housebuilding bit is almost an afterthougt - whatever shit they can sell.

I work across Europe on various projects. A Belgian colleague of mine has just started planning his self build. It could probably be described as slightly above above average for the local in terms of size and spec. But it is not a mansion. It is on a site about 50km outside one of the larger Belgian cities. He mentioned the site was worth 300k euros! So it is not just in the UK that sites are vastly over priced!

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I think all the stated reasons above explain the lack of self-builds in the UK. But I have no doubt whatsoever that local authority planners actually want density housing, rather than piecemeal housing dotted all around the place. They'd prefer the option of, effectively, social manipulation by herding people altogether rather than risk criticism for allowing a wider distribution of building. I think that is total madness, and it explains (as I expressed on another thread) why the UK suffers from epidemic social disfunction, over-crowding, ugly developments of sardine-packed drone homes and a paranoic fear of any rural development.

I wouldn't be surprised if there was a healthy trade in backhanders too, but that is a subject I covered years ago on this forum (see history of RICS and assorted spivs in the chartered world of accounting, surveying, valuing, planning and developing!!)

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........ But I have no doubt whatsoever that local authority planners actually want density housing, rather than piecemeal housing dotted all around the place.

Of course they do. More houses on less land = higher density of council tax vs lowest cost of providing the extra services.

Theories about bribery aside, it makes relative economic sense for the councils, even if the reality does not make for a better community. The numpties which decide these things in a meeting room with a clipboard just see the numbers. No conspiracy required.

I can only speak from personal experience, but all told I found the local planning department quite easy to deal with. Once you get to understand their concerns and show a bit of willing to work with them I found them to be very helpful and accommodating. No brown stationary was involved.

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..... but all told I found the local planning department quite easy to deal with. Once you get to understand their concerns and show a bit of willing to work with them I found them to be very helpful and accommodating. No brown stationary was involved.

Of course that is assuming they allowed you to do what you wished! Would you have a somewhat contrasting assessment if they had said no and closed the door on whatever you requested?

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Of course that is assuming they allowed you to do what you wished! Would you have a somewhat contrasting assessment if they had said no and closed the door on whatever you requested?

They did close the door, but not quite lock it

I spent 3 years planning the build on the site of a former derelict farmhouse (so derelict that there was a tree growing in the middle of the house). My original intention was to knock down the original ruin and build an eco friendly family home in its place. I was literally floored when I went to present the plans to the council and they told me that they had recently listed the building (without informing the previous owner). Recent was actually "18 months ago", but they had not gone to too much trouble to make the decision known.

There was zero chance of any appeal over the listing. So the original plans and the money invested had to be scrapped. Despite plans to start building in 2005, it took another 2.5 years of negotiations and meetings to get to an agreement that satisfied our requirements and the council's planning and conservation departments. A total of nearly 4 years from "idea" to starting any kind of real work on the project.

So it was far from getting what I wanted (at least from the original "want"). They flatly refused two re-designs. But ultimately there was a lot of give and take and the more co-operation I showed the more enthusiastic the planners got about the project and in the end I am very happy with the results. Still it took nearly 7 years to get to this point, where we had something we could move into. So it was not an overnight success story by any means.

I think if, within the boundaries of professionalism you take the time to understand what constraints the planners have to work with (they are only doing their "job" after all), then pre-conceptions of what can be achieved might be surprised. I was told off the record that it helps if there is something slightly interesting about the design, since they are bored rigid of carbon copy designs and at least on a personal level if they can feel a small 'personal' stake in the process then it makes their day to day work more interesting. No idea if that helped me or not, but the planner on our project seemed to think it did no harm.

Like I said before, it can be a frustrating process, but where there is a will there is a way. :)

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They did close the door, but not quite lock it

I spent 3 years planning the build on the site of a former derelict farmhouse (so derelict that there was a tree growing in the middle of the house). My original intention was to knock down the original ruin and build an eco friendly family home in its place. I was literally floored when I went to present the plans to the council and they told me that they had recently listed the building (without informing the previous owner). Recent was actually "18 months ago", but they had not gone to too much trouble to make the decision known.

There was zero chance of any appeal over the listing. So the original plans and the money invested had to be scrapped. Despite plans to start building in 2005, it took another 2.5 years of negotiations and meetings to get to an agreement that satisfied our requirements and the council's planning and conservation departments. A total of nearly 4 years from "idea" to starting any kind of real work on the project.

So it was far from getting what I wanted (at least from the original "want"). They flatly refused two re-designs. But ultimately there was a lot of give and take and the more co-operation I showed the more enthusiastic the planners got about the project and in the end I am very happy with the results. Still it took nearly 7 years to get to this point, where we had something we could move into. So it was not an overnight success story by any means.

I think if, within the boundaries of professionalism you take the time to understand what constraints the planners have to work with (they are only doing their "job" after all), then pre-conceptions of what can be achieved might be surprised. I was told off the record that it helps if there is something slightly interesting about the design, since they are bored rigid of carbon copy designs and at least on a personal level if they can feel a small 'personal' stake in the process then it makes their day to day work more interesting. No idea if that helped me or not, but the planner on our project seemed to think it did no harm.

Like I said before, it can be a frustrating process, but where there is a will there is a way. :)

What you have outlined here is ridiculous. 7 years is absurd. There is no reason why anyone should have to go through so much give and take over rebuilding a ruin. Clearly the constraints the planners are working under are ridiculous, or these guys just enjoy making people's lives difficult. Most of the houses they are preserving were thrown up in an age of zero planning permission.

We planned a house and had it approved in Australia in weeks. It is now nearly built. The whole process from start to finish has taken 5 leisurely months.

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They did close the door, but not quite lock it

I spent 3 years planning the build on the site of a former derelict farmhouse (so derelict that there was a tree growing in the middle of the house). My original intention was to knock down the original ruin and build an eco friendly family home in its place. I was literally floored when I went to present the plans to the council and they told me that they had recently listed the building (without informing the previous owner). Recent was actually "18 months ago", but they had not gone to too much trouble to make the decision known.

There was zero chance of any appeal over the listing. So the original plans and the money invested had to be scrapped. Despite plans to start building in 2005, it took another 2.5 years of negotiations and meetings to get to an agreement that satisfied our requirements and the council's planning and conservation departments. A total of nearly 4 years from "idea" to starting any kind of real work on the project.

So it was far from getting what I wanted (at least from the original "want"). They flatly refused two re-designs. But ultimately there was a lot of give and take and the more co-operation I showed the more enthusiastic the planners got about the project and in the end I am very happy with the results. Still it took nearly 7 years to get to this point, where we had something we could move into. So it was not an overnight success story by any means.

I think if, within the boundaries of professionalism you take the time to understand what constraints the planners have to work with (they are only doing their "job" after all), then pre-conceptions of what can be achieved might be surprised. I was told off the record that it helps if there is something slightly interesting about the design, since they are bored rigid of carbon copy designs and at least on a personal level if they can feel a small 'personal' stake in the process then it makes their day to day work more interesting. No idea if that helped me or not, but the planner on our project seemed to think it did no harm.

Like I said before, it can be a frustrating process, but where there is a will there is a way. :)

I admire your tenacity but I agree with the other post: No-one should have to run through hoops for seven years to arrive at the point you did. After all, if the council took seven years and eventually agreed, then why not agree in the first place? Surely it doesn't take seven years to re-submit a plan and have them assess it.

You say they are only doing their job. That seems reasonable at first but there is an implication in your post that only by being "nice" to them gets the result you wish. They are not there to require you to be pleasant. They are there to assist you within their rules. If I had been baulked for seven years I think I would have been perfectly justified to make their life hell....after all...they made yours hell for several years!!

I don't think planners are as constrained as some think. There is a great deal of room for personal "interpretation" and many unelected planning officers seem to make unilateral decisions based on a loose interpretation at their own whim. I know this for certain because I have recently had a discussion with a local authority planner who assured me that his decisions are strictly in line with a mixture of council committee decisions and central and EU dictats. In fact I found out that this man had a very large degree of veto of his own, and used it in a way that virtually changed his authority's planning attitude, in a very dictatorial way.

But the time element of your application is the real absurdity. How can it take seven years to reach an accomodation? That is utterly crazy.

Edited by VacantPossession

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I admire your tenacity but I agree with the other post: No-one should have to run through hoops for seven years to arrive at the point you did. After all, if the council took seven years and eventually agreed, then why not agree in the first place? Surely it doesn't take seven years to re-submit a plan and have them assess it.

You say they are only doing their job. That seems reasonable at first but there is an implication in your post that only by being "nice" to them gets the result you wish. They are not there to require you to be pleasant. They are there to assist you within their rules. If I had been baulked for seven years I think I would have been perfectly justified to make their life hell....after all...they made yours hell for several years!!

I don't think planners are as constrained as some think. There is a great deal of room for personal "interpretation" and many unelected planning officers seem to make unilateral decisions based on a loose interpretation at their own whim. I know this for certain because I have recently had a discussion with a local authority planner who assured me that his decisions are strictly in line with a mixture of council committee decisions and central and EU dictats. In fact I found out that this man had a very large degree of veto of his own, and used it in a way that virtually changed his authority's planning attitude, in a very dictatorial way.

But the time element of your application is the real absurdity. How can it take seven years to reach an accomodation? That is utterly crazy.

Just to claify. It took 7 years start to finish to have a home we could move into. That included planning and construction. I agree it should never take 7 years, and my project was possibly exceptional in the number of complexities we faced. The actually planning process for the eventually submitted plans was a lot less.

Rough timeline (from memory)

Late 2004

  • acquired site. No hint of the 'ruin' being a listed building

  • Started researching what we were going to build. Figuring out build budget, design options, etc.

Early 2005

  • Started working with Architect on draft plans. Mates rates, so it was not his top priority. I paid about 10% of what it would have cost otherwise

  • Put existing house on the market

Mid 2005

  • STR to pay for site and have some funds to start the construction. Moved into "temporary" accommodation.

  • Plans submitted informally to the planning department at the council for consultation. (See previous comments on engagement approach).

Late 2005

  • Was informed that the building had been listed. No process for appeal.

  • Received legal advice which indicated it would be more cost effective to take the hit than try to fight it - they only grounds is to prove that the council were wrong on their architectural basis for the listing. Otherwise no other grounds for appeal. And risk of Prison not worth the ball ache of ignoring it.

  • Original plans were based on demolition and a completely new build to replace. This was going to be very difficult to achieve. Technically it would have been possible to get listed building consent to demolish, but since the architectural components of the 'ruin' which formed the basis of the listing were still in tact, then this approach had little chance of success.

  • Decided to wait until the new year to re-group to be in a better frame of mind after he knock back.

Early 2006

  • Back to the drawing board. Plans No. 2 prepared.

  • Worked about 3 or 4 months on the new design. Since the original house and out buildings had to stay, the size of the property was going to physically have to be much larger than we had planned or wanted. The planning department indicated they would be supportive of a design that linked the two, but that would result in a larger house than we had planned. But they were no willing to support something that would potentially give rise to two dwellings being possible from the two buildings. Not something we had intended to do anyway, but it was a risk for a future application that they were

    Knocked back in its entirity by the planning officer. They would not support it. The made some recommendations that would help the application - The are not able to say what would pass it seems, only what they see wrong with the design that would cause it to fail.

  • Considered risking an application and then going down the appeals route, but again, legal advice suggested it would be better to try to come up with something different. Luckily I had done most of the re-work myself, only had draft plans prepared so cost wasted was minimal, but the time was about 3 to 4 months all told. Ironically the conservation department loved this pan, but since the build required both listed building consent, conversion permission (outbuildings) and planning permission, then all had to approve.

Late 2006.

Plans No. 3 prepared.Planners much more enthusiastic. Different building style and structure. Planners and conservation officer supportive, but still some niggles. Took about 6 months of toing and foring in meetings on site and with the architect to figure out the compromises. (Reduce hight here, make this smaller, can compensate here and there to make up the space etc, etc).

[*]2007

[*]Final plans submitted for planing. Planning officers indicated intention to support approval. Conservation officers had to do their thing to get the listed building consent drawn up.

[*]Somebody - I suspect someone who was disgruntled that they were not able to acquire the site - reported to the council that there were bats in the property. We had to get a survey. No Bats or evidence that they might have been there found. (There had been a lot of interest in it. We were even being made offers on a regular basis after we acquired it, for much more than we paid, or in fact I thought it was realistically worth!)

[*]Then mid 2007 as things looked like they were making headway, someone makes an objection. Hard to figure out why or whom, but planners decided it should go to committee. Had to wait until the next available slot. This added another month or two as we prepared supporting evidence for the project.

[*]Late 2007 Committee unanimously votes to approve the plans on the basis of planners recommendation and conservation officer support.

[*]Work starts on clearing the site, but no actual construction could start as there was also the matter of diverting a footpath, but the legal process for this could not start until the permissions had been obtained for building etc as they were the basis for getting the footpath legal moved (don;t worry we put a far better footpath in than there ever was before and now it is regularly used and maintained by the council, whereas previously it was unappeasable due to overgrown nettles and hedges.

2008

  • Construction starts.

  • Have funds to build about "half" the house without a mortgage. Lucky I know

  • Mortgage market goes down the pan. Initial offer obtained pre-crash no longer available. So have to revisit the budget to make allowances.

  • Obtain an offset mortgage in Mid 2008 on a 3 year, just before BoE starts dropping the rates!

  • Never mind, at least I could proceed. Mortgage market was deteriorating rapidly, so better to be able to continue than be in limbo!

  • All systems go to proceeds with the rest of the project. Keep the offset parked so pay zip for next 12 months, but at least am secure in the knowledge that the funds will be available.

Late 2009

  • Going over budget - it happens, despite the best of planning, weather, surprises in the foundations, price hikes from suppliers (materials were going up monthly!), Pound dropped like a stone so anything imported was going up rapidly). Reduced mortgage amount did not help of course, but with hindsight I'm glad we were forced not to over extend ourselves.

  • Mid 2010 construction and fitting of majority of the house was enough to be able to move in. We throw a party to celebrate!

  • Took rest of the year off (from building related and to save some more funds).

  • Re-Started the work to finish what remainder to be done in mid 2011. We'll have to do the rest over time as and when funds allow which will probably take another year or two.

At least the 3 year fixed came to an end, so I'm on BoE+0.75% lifetime tracker, which is like gold dust these days, so am overpaying like crazy so I am in a far better position when rates start to rise. When that will be defies any kind of logic as far as I can see these days.

As a HPC point of interest, I've had a "friend" of mine who is an EA engaged in the project all along, to provide some insight, mainly to make sure I was not building a fallacy that would be worth less in the market should I be forced to sell than I was spending on the materials and labour. He has been "valuing" the property every 6 to 9 months for the last 5 years initially based on plans, but then re-assessing based on the market and the actual house as he saw it being built. From the peak valuation (before major construction when he had buyers actively looking and would have been prepared to buy off plan) to today where the market is fecked and still has a way to go, there has been a "theoretical" drop in his estimation of about 28%. I trust him as he has been very open and has spent a lot of his time without any recompense talking about the build. Luckily there is still another 20% margin before I'm below cost and I could drop another 60% before I'm in NE. I don't intend to sell for a very long time in any case, but it is good to know I have some hedge in case I am forced to through circumstances beyond my control.

For the sake of my kids who in years to come will need a place of their own, I hope that prices do correct to a far more favourable average earnings ration. Though I will make sure they are equipped to roam the planet if this country gets much worse.

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Which is going to bring in more tax - large companies quickly building lots of identical bland boxes, or individuals doing something without wanting to make a profit but to live in, and probably with a bit of character? Wouldn't mind so much if the large-scale building actually managed a bit of quality and character but that seems to have gone out of fashion a century ago.

On a less cynical note I suspect that most people don't want the hassle, particularly since they've got to live somewhere, and pay for that too, whilst it's being built.

I would love to build my own home but the situation i am in is preventing me from doing so. I work in the construction industry so i have most of the skills that are required to build a house and the skills i havent got would be provided to me by my workmates for free as i would do the same for them for the work they cant do. Thats the idea that we came up with anyway when we emailed our local mp to ask why the new scheme aimed at FTBs has no option to build the house yourself, i dont see why i have to pay a massive house building company way over the odds for something i can do for a fraction of the cost.

The reason we have contacted our mp is because me and a lot of my regular workmates are now in the position were we can never move out of our parents home, we all earn roughly the same wage and our ages range from early 20s to mid 30s and not one of us stands a chance of renting or buying. Quite a few of us have 25k plus deposits but nobody will give us a mortgage due to the fact that we are all self employed in the construction industry and have erratic incomes due to temporary layoffs and the obvious corruption or just plain not getting paid what we are owed.

We all come from various parts of the north so the housing costs are cheaper than other parts of the country but still we cant afford a mortgage plus the costs involved in running a home, and thats even if we get a full years work in with no layoffs, we have all tried to find somewhere to rent but that works out just as bad financially plus we are excluded from applying for some rentals as they are only for couples or a single person with a child and as most of us are single with no kids it doesnt help. This is without even allowing for any emergency money in the bank for when the work stops, so the risk involved is at a level that nobody feels comfortable with it anyway.

I have yet to hear back from my MP so im a bit bewildered as to what i am supposed to do next, ive been saving for years and just dedicated my life to work and nothing else and its getting me nowhere fast. i suppose me and my workmates could house share but somehow i dont think it would work out :)

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Just to claify. It took 7 years start to finish to have a home we could move into. That included planning and construction. I agree it should never take 7 years, and my project was possibly exceptional in the number of complexities we faced. The actually planning process for the eventually submitted plans was a lot less.

Rough timeline (from memory)

[snip]

Thanks very much for taking the time to provide the details. It only confirms my previous opinion of the process - completely broken. There seems to be a lot of room for personal opinion, gripes and corruption in what you have described. Loved the bit about the bats...you couldn't make it up.

cf. comment 13 on the blog article on the front page of HPC "Telegraph: For the good of rural life, we must build houses in the English countryside" where the owner of the land was given the choice by planning of building one small dwelling or 6, but not to build one large house. There is a reason why the UK doesn't want guns in the hands of the general populace...

Of course, we have similar problems here in Australia (and increasingly so as no one ever pares down regulations), but they get resolved much more quickly.

Edited by Tiger Woods?

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I would love to build my own home but the situation i am in is preventing me from doing so. I work in the construction industry so i have most of the skills that are required to build a house and the skills i havent got would be provided to me by my workmates for free as i would do the same for them for the work they cant do. Thats the idea that we came up with anyway when we emailed our local mp to ask why the new scheme aimed at FTBs has no option to build the house yourself, i dont see why i have to pay a massive house building company way over the odds for something i can do for a fraction of the cost.

so you have the skills and can "borrow" those that you are missing. All you need is land and capital to buy the construction materials and pay the fees I outlined above (not that you probably need me to tell you what they are since you are in the industry).... so on your own you are probably screwed, but band together with your mates, or others to buy a site.

I'm sure you are aware that there are a number of websites out there specialising in selling plots or building sites. one such is "plostsearch". They have a "group buy" situation that they sell indivisudal sites, but also larger sites that enable members to band together to buy and then divide the site up into smaller plots that they can afford. I'm not trying to be patronising, just genuinely sincere in passing on what I learnt along the way.

The reason we have contacted our mp is because me and a lot of my regular workmates are now in the position were we can never move out of our parents home, we all earn roughly the same wage and our ages range from early 20s to mid 30s and not one of us stands a chance of renting or buying. Quite a few of us have 25k plus deposits but nobody will give us a mortgage due to the fact that we are all self employed in the construction industry and have erratic incomes due to temporary layoffs and the obvious corruption or just plain not getting paid what we are owed.

forget your MP. Your local councillor may be of more help. But I'm way below 40 and all I can say is, nobody external to your family or very close friends are going to give a shit. You can spend your life trying to fight the system, but in the shorter term you are better off trying to do the best you can to work within it and make the most of your strengths. Mates if they are in the same boat can be your strength, particularly if their personal situation is very similar and you all have similar goals. Band together and work as an unit. Strength in numbers will be your ace in the hole!

If a few of you have 25k+ deposits, then you are not that far off putting a massive downpayment on a plot. That plot might have OPP or FPP for 1 or 2 dwellings. But look for similar sites and then approach the local council to see if they might be prepared to allow dwellings for a larger number of people on there. e.g. site for 100k which has FPP for 2 bungalows or small mews houses. Maybe you could get a planning change for a block of apartments that might be enough for you and your mates too all accommodate yourselves and your current or future families. Councils can be negotiated with. I am proof of that. So don't loose faith. Even if your not all your mates are into that scheme, some might be, and you can recruit others to your cause.

We all come from various parts of the north so the housing costs are cheaper than other parts of the country but still we cant afford a mortgage plus the costs involved in running a home, and thats even if we get a full years work in with no layoffs, we have all tried to find somewhere to rent but that works out just as bad financially plus we are excluded from applying for some rentals as they are only for couples or a single person with a child and as most of us are single with no kids it doesnt help. This is without even allowing for any emergency money in the bank for when the work stops, so the risk involved is at a level that nobody feels comfortable with it anyway.

Concentrate on buying the plot. Then get the permission you need. Try to band together to buy the plot with as little mortgage if any, that you can. The once you own it and get the FPP that you need, you might find it easier to get self build mortgage. PM me and I can help you with more info with good brokers and the such if you like.

I have yet to hear back from my MP so im a bit bewildered as to what i am supposed to do next, ive been saving for years and just dedicated my life to work and nothing else and its getting me nowhere fast. i suppose me and my workmates could house share but somehow i dont think it would work out :)

Land will come down in price. No consolation to you since you are in the trade, but so will day rates for trades if the build market is in the dumps. But materials will still rise and rise as I'm sure you can attest to in your professional capacity. So if you are determined to self build, balance the "crash" in land, with the upward trend of materials, especially those which are energy intensive such as concrete, blocks and anything made of metal or plastic!

I sincerely wish you all the best, and if you wish to discuss anything specific, I'm very open to a PM. Take care.

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Thanks very much for taking the time to provide the details. It only confirms my previous opinion of the process - completely broken.

I think that for the average self build project in the UK, and in this context I would wish to equate average, with that of the average home. The process is entirely broken. The high barrier of entry helps drive people into the arms of the mass builder. The costs and risks are so high that you could almost squander a 5% deposit on a built home in an attempt to get planning permission to build something similar.

I realise that to a certain extent, I've derailed the OP's original Q. Which was whether there was an overwhelming advantage to mass build vs. a self build in the UK. I'm utterly convinced that there is. My intention was to show that despite that, there are ways and means. Though, they may not be open or appealing to everyone.

I sincerely doubt that there are very many self build projects in the UK with a "budget" (land, build, etc) of much less than 250k. I'm sure there are exceptions, but from the countless magazines that cater for the self build market, the editors of those magazines that I have spoken to, the trade shows that I have attended over the last seven or eight years, then I am utterly convinced that most of the market is aimed and actually is, very much 200k plus, as a realistic minimum. Which is way above the average house price in the UK today, and far and above the FTB carrying capacity. Sadly enough, as self building if more policy suppose, finance and information was available would be an ideal way for young people to have a chance of their own place. There is a massive army of tradesmen out there willing to support them, but they are unable to do so since, the general market is not as supportive as it could be of building a starter home on a single piece of land. Problem is with central government policy and the resultant local government policies that housing density requirements are at polar opposites to the FTB/Self Builder requirements. The only salvation will be fore a fist time self buyer builder being able to wait out the crash (in land prices, which will no doubt come in many areas) and still maintain their employment to be able to sustain the construction costs.

A tip to all HPCers.... Not those who sold on a massive profit pre-2007 and are now sitting on gold.... but to those who are genuinely priced out with only modest savings and no massive pre boom equity, and waiting for a crash.... I just hope that you understand that for the prices to crash as hard as they need to for you to be able to buy cheaply, a lot of people who were not complicit in the boom, liar loans, banking bonusus etc will be hurt. Regardless of whether they own their house or rent. "Innocent" people who have nothing more to do than a hard day's graft will lose their jobs come the real crash. And whilst house prices may well go down 50% from today. Reality is, when (note I did not say if, regardless that I actually do not think they will go that low from today's real numbers [not fantasy asking prices which still reflet 2007 aspirations, but today's real world selling prices which is what I base my 50% drop from]....when (or if?) it happens, the impact on the economy and jobs market will be so great, that many, I dare say most, of the genuinely deserving.. those young <30 years of age buyers, that are not STR, not GOLD bugs and just work day to day and struggle to save for a deposit, will be fecked. Houses might be 50% cheaper. but without a job no matter how low they go go, unless you can buy for cash, there will be no hope of re-paying a mortgage You will still be fecked. Barring a real revolution. If it comes I would gladly support it!

I'll probably be banned for that last para. I genuinely hope not. I am sincerely sharing my thoughts on the matter. Not trying to be a VI.

But in case. Good luck everyone. We will all need it in the coming months and years.

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A tip to all HPCers.... Not those who sold on a massive profit pre-2007 and are now sitting on gold.... but to those who are genuinely priced out with only modest savings and no massive pre boom equity, and waiting for a crash.... I just hope that you understand that for the prices to crash as hard as they need to for you to be able to buy cheaply, a lot of people who were not complicit in the boom, liar loans, banking bonusus etc will be hurt. Regardless of whether they own their house or rent. "Innocent" people who have nothing more to do than a hard day's graft will lose their jobs come the real crash. And whilst house prices may well go down 50% from today. Reality is, when (note I did not say if, regardless that I actually do not think they will go that low from today's real numbers [not fantasy asking prices which still reflet 2007 aspirations, but today's real world selling prices which is what I base my 50% drop from]....when (or if?) it happens, the impact on the economy and jobs market will be so great, that many, I dare say most, of the genuinely deserving.. those young <30 years of age buyers, that are not STR, not GOLD bugs and just work day to day and struggle to save for a deposit, will be fecked. Houses might be 50% cheaper. but without a job no matter how low they go go, unless you can buy for cash, there will be no hope of re-paying a mortgage You will still be fecked. Barring a real revolution. If it comes I would gladly support it!

I think that is a myth created by those vested interests who want the current financial regime to continue. I think this myth has successfully frightened the electorate into believing the exaggerated consequences you describe. It depends HOW house prices crash. If they crash due to a collapse of the economy (which might happen anyway) then you have a point. But there are very simple ways of promoting a house price crash without ruining the economy any more than it is at the moment, and these measures have been discussed endlessly on this forum so I won't repeat them. If ALL property is reduced as to capital cost, then a huge amount of cash can be freed up to support more productive areas of the economy.

There is always an inverse relationship between interest rates and house prices. The lower interest rates, the higher the capital cost. The higher interest rates are, the more prices are prevented from creeping up. One of the myths promoted by those who have a vested interest in sustaining their "investment" in property rather than simply being able to live in a home, is the fiction that raising interest rates would be the final destruction of the economy. I think this is nonsense. Raising interest rates incrementally will slowly but surely divert the absurd money for example going into that most useless of assets: gold, or perhaps even art, antiques, and all sorts of assets none of which actually create a productive economy, into actually producing things that people need. At the same time it will reduce property prices down to affordable levels.

One of the reasons for the meltdown was the illusion that investing in static assets like existing houses would somehow indicate a healthy economy. It had the opposite effect.

I think some forget that while raising interest rates, and promoting a property crash, might temporarily harm current vested interests, you can be sure that for every person suffering, there will be others far in the majority (FTBs, savers, those who wish to invest in industry, those who have not been profligate etc) who will benefit. The pouring of cash down the funnel of banks in order to "save" them has resulted in public funds leaking from the sides of that funnel and (yet again) ending up in the hands of those least deserving of help. It woul have been much better (and cheaper) to let the banks fail and support the depositers. Instead the injected cash has merely promoted the same old banking system which has only the interests of those at the top of the funnel.

A savage reduction in house prices might have temporary negative consequences, but in the long term cash that should ALWAYS have been available for proper investment can then be freed to do so. This is blindingly obvious when you analyse where trillions of pounds were spent leading up to the crash: Property, property and property. Very little of that cash produced any real wealth, only the illusion of it.

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  • 284 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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