Self-build Homes: Social Discourse, Experiences and Directions

UCL Press has published Self-Build homes: Social Discourse, Experiences and Directions, a collection of essays that looks at how the social dimensions connected with the sector might advance theory, research and practice. 

The book identifies “self-build as a means of producing homes that are more stylised, affordable and appropriate for the specific needs of house-holds,” a positive statement to present to any planning officer when applying for a permission for a scheme. In particular, it identifies that self-build contributes to homes, and not just houses.

As a reference point, Self-Build Homes provides a collection of essays and insights into the motivating factors around self-build, from the perspective of self-builders themselves in terms of motivating factors, but also from the perspective of local residents, planners, policy managers and scholars.

Chapters focussing on community, dwelling, home and identity explore the various elements of self-build housing, calling for recognition of the social dimensions of the process. This embraces structures, policies and practices, as well as the lived experiences of households.

It includes a chapter by former NaCSBA chair Ted Stevens, Turning the theory into reality, as well as a host of chapters by numerous industry commentators and practiotioners.

Essentially, it points to a better way to do housing, identifying practices that are invaluable for how we view housing in this period of time when so much needs to be built, so quickly.

“We should build because in building we construct not only a house, but a home, ‘a set of intersecting and variable ideas and feelings, which are related to context, and which construct places, extend across spaces and scales, and connect places’.” (Blunt and Dowling, Home 2006).

Crucially, the book supplies evidence of the social acceptance of worthy schemes within neighbourhoods, and the strong community bonds forged in the case of collective or cohousing projects, which many placemakers would advocate.

“Social values and investments are not a by-product of self-build, but an integral feature. Self-build then is about imagining (and hopefully realising) alternative ways of living – whether in community, sustainably, affordably – that have the potential to trouble understandings of how housing (and development) happens and the values it reproduces.” (Self-Build Homes, p269)

Self-Build Homes is edited by Michaela Benson and Iqbal Hamiduddin.
Benson is Reader in Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London, who has a longstanding interest in the intersections of space, society and the individual, and is known for her contributions to understanding privileged migration, the micro-geographies of home, belonging and place-making practices.
Hamiduddin is Lecturer in Transport Planning and Housing, Bartlett School of Planning, UCL. He is particularly interested in the production of new sustainable settlements and urban quarters, and collaborative models of self-build.

Self-Build Homes: Social Discourse, Experiences and Directions is published by UCL Press, and costs £40 in Hardback/£22.99 in Paperback/£5.99 ePub or is free to download.

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