Right to Build Day

New research has found that 1 in 3 people are interested in self building, with 9% of people saying that they were likely to build their own home at some point in the future. This compares to around 5% of new homes currently being built as custom and self build annually.

NaCSBA and the Building Societies Association (BSA) commissioned the research to mark Right to Build Day, looking into people’s self build aspirations and how COVID19 has changed their perceptions of their home.

COVID19 and our homes

The research revealed that, following lockdown:

  • Almost 2 in 5 (39%) said they need a home office space.
  • Almost half (48%) would like more space – with 36% wanting more indoor space, and 37% more outdoor space.
  • Nearly a third (31%) thought about home improvements in the future.
  • 1 in 20 (5%) considered designing and building their own home in response to the crisis.

Clearly, the pandemic made a significant proportion of the population evaluate what they wanted out of their homes as they had to adopt the mantle of a leisure and professionals spaces.

Self Build aspirations

The research indicated that it was the younger generations  were most interested in the idea of self building – a change from the conventional perception that it is the older generations who are most interested.

This younger generation is also the least able to access finance, due to lower earning capacity and a lack of savings for a deposit.

  • Nearly half (48%) of those between 18-24 were interested in self building, while less than 1 in 5 (18%) of those aged 55+ were interested.
  • The main benefit for building is seen as the ability to design a home to the owner’s exact specifications (74%), followed by the ability to create a home that can adapt to meet current and future needs (50%).
  • A third of people said living in a home that had less impact on the environment and was more sustainable was a key benefit of building a home (33%), and nearly 9 in 10 people (89%) said energy efficiency would be important if they were to build a new home.

In terms of barriers to growth, access to finance remained the biggest issue, with planning, plots and knowledge acting as constraints on people’s ambitions. Yet the BSA has 21 building societies offering self build products, see below for details.


Finding the time to undertake the process 39%
Not having the knowledge I would need 47%
Finding a suitable plot of land 42%
The process of gaining planning permission (e.g. that it is difficult, lengthy, etc.) 49%
Finding the money to finance the build (including getting a mortgage) 59%
It isn’t something that appeals to me generally 25%
It isn’t something most people do 11%
Other/don’t know 7%
There isn’t anything that would make me not want to build my own home 7%

While NaCSBA and the Building Societies Association welcome the news that nearly a third of all people are interested in self building, there is an issue in that only 1% of those surveyed had signed a self build register, and 83% of people had never even heard that their local authority had to host a self build register.

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, NaCSBA’s CEO said, “The current lack of choice in our new homes market makes it different from every other country and every other consumer market. Only when there is diversity of choice will we get the diversity of homes that we want and need.”

Paul Broadhead, Head of Mortgages and Housing at the BSA said, “It’s great to see that there are so many aspiring self and customs builders, particularly among the youngest generation (18-24yrs). Increased levels of home working this year have led many to realise the importance of future proofing their homes to suit their individual needs.

“Mutual lenders are leading the way to help these self-build dreams become a reality, with 21 building societies currently lending to people building their own homes, they are the clear choice for many and are leaders in this space.”

For a full breakdown of the research download the powerpoint of findings.

Who wants to Self Build infographic

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Building societies offering self and/or custom build products:

Bath Building Society Beverley Building Society
Chorley Building Society Darlington Building Society
Buckinghamshire BS Earl Shilton Building Society
Dudley Building Society Furness Building Society
Ecology Building Society Ipswich Building Society
Hanley Economic Building Society Mansfield Building Society
Loughborough Building Society Penrith Building Society
Melton Mowbray Building Society Saffron Building Society
Progressive Building Society Scottish Building Society (Scotland only)
Stafford Railway Building Society Swansea Building Society
Vernon Building Society

About the survey:

NaCSBA and the BSA commissioned YouGov to conduct the survey. Data is based on total sample size of 2017 adults, with the survey carried out online on 9th-11th October 2020. Figures are weighted and representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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