12 Feb 2013

Looking for Group Selfbuild

When NASBA got together with Grant Shapps, the then housing minister, in 2011 to push for more selfbuild opportunities, the emphasis was very much on promoting group selfbuild. If anything, the climate is swinging towards group selfbuild as speculative builders abandon housing plans in many parts of the country because of perceived lack of demand.

The government launched the Custom Build Homes Fund in July 2012 to address the suppressed demand for self build homes but to date there hasn't really been a lot of interest and the knowledge of how to access the £30million revolving fund to get group schemes off the ground remains patchy.

Now there is a research/promotional project being put together by Design for Homes and Sheffield University Architecture School to make a film about group selfbuild, to be shown to politicians and local authorities this summer. They hope that if MPs and councillors recognise the value of group self-build, there'll be more pressure for sites to be made available.

There are a few very well known group selfbuilds around — Ashley Vale, Lancaster Cohousing, Lilac in Leeds, Hockerton, Brighton Diggers — but they all tend to have a counter-cultural vibe about them which is fine, but it's not everybodies' cup of tea. I suspect there may be many more informal ones which have received little if any publicity.

If you have been engaged on a group selfbuild (or renovation project) in the past year or two, or if you are planning to do one in the not too distant future, the guys and girls making this film would love to hear from you. They are looking especially for groups which haven't courted publicity to date, maybe just a collection of friends or work colleagues who are planning their retirement, or some such nostrum.

Contact me via this blog or go direct to Design For Homes. More info on the project here.


  1. Hi Mark, thanks for helping us out with this. I'm the research assistant on the project, and if any of your readers woudld like to know more about the project, more info can be found at www.mccbhomeimprovements.wordpress.com



  2. Thanks from me too, Mark. As Principal Investigator for the project, can I add that we are particular interested in hearing people's stories about coming across barriers and opportunities in the course of work with collective self build ideas and development.
    We are also interested in any unusual procurement models that people have discovered or developed.