Thomas Bridge 15 October 2013

Pickles signals push for self-build homes

Self-builders must receive more support and encouragement if personal home construction is to spread nationwide, communities secretary Eric Pickles has said.

Calling on Britons to become a ‘nation of self-builders’, Pickles said the Government had to learn from the supportive mechanisms put in place by Austria, Belgium and Sweden which reward people for constructing their own homes.

Speaking to think-tank Policy Exchange, the minister praised the work of 50 councils that had created a £4bn boost to the national economy by making land available and supporting local self-builders.

Pickles Pickles called on Britons to become ‘a nation of self-builders’.

Efforts would increase to free up land and encourage councils to assess local demand, Pickles said.

‘It’s well known that the desire for homeownership is hardwired into the British DNA, but so many people don’t just dream of homeownership, they dream of building their own home too,’ he said.

‘While for a few people, self-building means a Grand Designs style project, many other people have more modest ambitions. And let’s consider the other benefits too: the boost to local construction and jobs, especially among small businesses.

‘In some European countries – Austria, Belgium, Sweden - as much as half of all new housing is custom build; likewise in Germany, where there’s a strong tradition of co-operative building. I refuse to believe they are any more ambitious or creative than the British, but they have systems which support, encourage and reward self-builders - and we must do likewise.’

‘We are famously a nation of shopkeepers but we can be a nation of self-builders too.’

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