Building Lives by Building Homes - Helping People Help Themselves


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This is where a group of men and women in housing need join forces and become involved in the planning, design and building of their own homes.

As a group, provided that your members are in housing need, you are able to access funds via housing associations. The other advantages are:

  • Being involved in the planning, building and design of your homes
  • Knowing in advance where you will be living – to plan for schools etc.,
  • Lower housing and running costs
  • Living within a supportive community
  • Having an opportunity to learn a range of skills

For those without substantial savings and a job it is difficult to raise funds for the building of an individual home.

Ideally, keep your initial membership to no more than 6 people, because you cannot be certain what size of site/building will be available. Most groups should aim to build between 6 and 15 homes. Below 6, there are too few homes over which to spread costs such as site supervision. Above 15, it becomes increasingly difficult for the group to keep together as a team.

The Community Self Build Agency organizes visits to live self build projects, throughout the year. They are held in different locations and there is the chance to meet self builders, who are already working on site. Alternatively, we can put you in touch with a group who may be working on site nearer to you. The Agency has a database of those interested in self build who might want to join forces with you.
Local Authorities need to know that there is a local demand for self build before considering whether to support the idea. Money for housing is tight and the Local Authority wants to be certain it is used wisely. Once you have a group of three or four people in similar circumstances, it should be possible to set up an initial meeting.
The best idea is to contact your Local Authority’s Housing Association Liaison or Enabling Officer and ask for a list of Housing Associations, which have attracted funding regularly, every year for homes in your area. Then contact the CSBA to see if any of these associations have shown an interest in Community Self Build. The Agency can help you broker a meeting. Prior to this, you need to have decided whether you are interested in a rented or shared ownership (part-rent/part-buy) projects. Outright ownership schemes are not funded via housing associations.
Design, best use of time and skills, containing costs within budget and relationships both within the group and with ‘partner’ organizations. All of these are interconnected and if addressed carefully at the beginning can be a recipe for a successful self build project.
Your Town Hall may let you have a room at no charge or at a reduced cost. However, it is best to choose a meeting place, which is convenient for your members. Groups, even those with unemployed members, tend to start a kitty whereby everyone contributes a minimum of £5 per month. If you can show that some money has been raised from within or by your group, it is so much easier then to ask for donations from elsewhere.
Yes, but there are fewer than new build. There have been some in Newcastle, Manchester, Leeds and East London.

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