The Bacon Review was released last week, led by Richard Bacon MP as an independent review commissioned by the Prime Minister in April 2021 to make recommendations on scaling up self-build and custom build housing.
The need for new housing is an ongoing issue, and no matter where you land on building on the green belt, changing use classes, or retrofitting vs new builds, it’s hard to deny that we are not creating enough homes.
The homes that are being built are infamous for being either vanilla cookie cutter boxes, overpriced, or worse, low quality.
So why is custom and self-build (CSB) the answer (or one of) to this problem?
Richard Bacon writes that “It involves creating the conditions in which customers are treated as if they matter the most, rather than – for the most part – scarcely mattering at all. And this is what happens when people themselves commission the houses they would like to see.”
We wholeheartedly agree.
An example cited in the review is The Courtyard in the Montpellier neighbourhood in Bristol, the city’s first purpose-build co-housing development and the first project to pilot self-build for rented accommodation.
The homes were designed and even built in part by the tenants, and are the first in Bristol to be awarded an A-rating for both energy efficiency and environmental impact on their energy certificate. And the seemingly impossible: delivering zero carbon without public subsidy whilst delivering good returns to investors.
It’s a perfect illustration of the belief that Unboxed Homes was founded on: when people get to choose what kind of homes they live in, we end up with better homes.
The Bacon Review outlines a set of recommendations to reach the goal of creating more custom build homes, the core recommendation being the establishment of a Custom & Self-Build Delivery Unit “staffed by skilled professionals with deep experience of delivering custom and self-build projects for customers across all tenures.”
Below is a brief summary of the recommendations, for the full report, please click here.
Recommendation 1: Greater role for Homes England
The first recommendation is the creation of the CSB Housing Delivery Unit with the goal of providing serviced building plots on both public and private land, as well as working to extend and simplify access to Brownfield land. Homes England should also provide financial support directly to CSB enablers as well as via the Help to Build Equity Loan.
Recommendation 2: Raise Awareness of the Right to Build
The Right to Build legislation has been in place for a few years, with councils maintaining a register of interested self and custom builders with the obligation to provide plots, but the lack of publicity means that many self and custom builders are simply not aware of these registers.
To raise awareness, the government should establish a Show Park to showcase the sector as well as mandate that authorities should promote their registers with a marketing campaign and website where they share data and information.
Recommendation 3: Support Community-Led Housing, Diversity of Supply and Levelling Up
The government should create opportunities for communities to help themselves by offering targeted funding via a Self-Help Housing Programme and a Plot to Rent Scheme, as well as making community-led housing a part of the Affordable Homes Programme, and allowing people to build their own homes using sweat equity.
Recommendation 4: Promote Greener homes and more use of advanced manufacturing
The government should recognise that the CSB housing sector has a role in achieving Net Zero house building, by embedding CSB into the work of the Modern Methods of Construction Take Force, and by encouraging the use of greener building materials and green mortgage products.
Recommendation 5: Support Custom and Self-build housebuilding through the Planning Reforms
The government should ensure that the planning reforms in its White Paper Planning for the future include specific designation of land for CSB housing, setting a target for local planning authorities to provide for serviced plots and facilitating local authorities to bring forward land for CSB and SME home builders.
Recommendation 6: Iron out any tax creases
The government should work with the sector to identify and address the imbalances in the tax system that disincentivise serviced plots for CSB housing.
Change won’t happen overnight, but these recommendations and the positive response from the Housing Secretary are hopeful signs that the custom and self build sector will be able to grow sustainably and contribute to solving our housing problem while creating more and better homes.
Here’s what you can do right now
If you would like to increase the number of plots and the level of support made available for CSB housing, make sure that you sign up to your local Right to Build Register. This way your local council will have an accurate gauge of how many people in their area would like to build their own home, and will be obligated to make plots of land available.
You should also sign up to our custom build register, where we send out plots periodically that our MD Gus has seen and vetted as a good opportunity.
New to Unboxed Homes?
We make self-build easy. We build customisable eco friendly new homes that you fit out yourself, or we fit out for you.
If you’ve ever wanted to build your own home but have been daunted by the idea or you want a project but don’t want the risk of buying a Victorian terrace that needs modernising, then sign up for our newsletter or our custom build register and we will send you emails with opportunities and land for sale that has been vetted as a good opportunity by our MD Gus Zogolovitch