A specialist self build cooperative from Bristol and one of the UKs leading design and planning practices have teamed up to win the 2016 Starter Home on a Shoestring ideas competition.

The competition is organised annually by NaCSBA. This year it challenged architects, designers and others to come up with innovative ways of building a low cost Starter Home. Click here for more information on 2016’s competition entry details.


The teams entry called modulhus – consisted of a number of standard modules that can be arranged in a variety of ways to create a standalone home, a terrace or even a low-rise block of flats. The design offered a menu of options; the home could be provided as a bare shell, or it could be fully finished ready to occupy. And the teams standard 66 sq m two bedroom self finish home would cost just 49,644.

The winning team (Bristol-based Ecomotive, and Reading-based planning consultancy Barton Willmore) was presented with its 5,000 prize by TV presenter Charlie Luxton at theGrand Designs Liveexhibition at the NEC.

Self Build on a shoestring award

The winning entry set out to deliver its cost-effective Starter Homes in an innovative way. Key features of its approach included:

*Using a proven pre-fabricated structural timber module to form the core of each home. These modules are 4.5m wide by 2.7m high, and a series of them can be connected alongside each other to form rooms or to create a whole floor. The timber I-beam walls of each module are 300mm thick and are highly insulated. And because there is no need for any internal structural support just about any interior layout can be accommodated.



*Encouraging people to work together to build their homes. The team propose setting up community based temporary production facilities, where self builders can learn the construction skills required and then build their homes in a safe and weather protected environment.

*Easy deliver to site and quick assembly. Once the modules have been built they are transported on a lorry to the site and quickly assembled. The design is very flexible, so the modules can be built as detached properties, or arranged as terraces or even stacked to create a block of apartments or maisonettes.


*The external appearance of the homes also offers lots of options they can be clad in timber, brick or rendered. And they can be built with a flat roof or pitched.

*To keep costs down the homes can be provided as a basic shell or they can be part finished or fully finished and ready to occupy.


The judges included most of the UKs TV self build celebrities – Kevin McCloud, Charlie Luxton, George Clarke and Gerardine and Wayne Hemingway. RIBA self build champion Luke Tozer is also one of the judges along with Lord Gary Porter, the former leader of the Local Government Association.

Michael Holmes said: This was a very well thought through solution that is capable of generating almost endless possibilities for self builders. The use of a practical and proven construction system, and the range of layout and specification options this offers means you can really give people a big say in the design and finish of their home. If a basic two bedroom Starter Home like this can be built for under 50,000, is it any wonder that there are millions of people in the UK that are currently looking to organise their own self and custom build property?

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