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19 Sep, 2017/ by Homeward Legal /First Time Buyer

As the popularity of TV shows such as Grand Designs and Amazing Spaces shows, many of us hanker for a home of our own that's unique and built entirely to our own specifications. Reality in the shape of money and available plots tends to get in the way.

However, custom-building could become the hottest way to get on the property market in the 21st century. And leading the way this month was the opening of the UK's first plot shop, in Bicester, Oxfordshire, part of a plan that could eventually provide more than 40,000 new homes every year.

Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma was on hand to perform the official opening duties for a venture that will sell plots of land to prospective custom-builders on the Graven Hill with the development expected eventually to be home to up to 1,900 new homes self- and custom-built by individuals.

Mr Sharma said the government wants to double the number of custom-build homes erected in the UK by 2020. Self- and custom-build is a popular way to build in both Europe and further afield, such as in the US and Australia. While 60 percent of newbuilds in France, Germany and Italy are self-built, only 10 percent of UK newbuilds are from the same source.

Need to get creative with housing

The Housing Minister said the property market needed to diversity to meet the current demands for new homes, adding: "We need to get creative with how we build our housing in this country, to deliver more of the right homes in the places people want to live. With the opening of the UK's first plot shop, the journey to building your own home can now start on the high street."

Karen Curtin, managing director of Graven Hill, said new home buyers would have the flexibility to choose between building their own home and custom designing one that meets their individual requirements.

In Scotland, the SNP government intends to double the number of custom-built homes by the end of the decade by setting up simplified planning zones. At the moment, only Virgin Money of the big mortgage providers has a bespoke product aimed at self-builders, but the increase in land available to buy could prompt others to enter this market.

Area with significant growth potential

Peter Rogerson, director of mortgages with Virgin Money, said they had worked closely with the team at Graven Hill and added: "The custom-build market is a really exciting area of new house building that offers significant growth potential, providing a supply of high-quality homes specifically designed to buyers' individual requirements."

Since councils were required to keep a nose of those looking to build for themselves in 2016, more than 18,000 people have added their names to local registers. The government's Home Building Fund has £1 billion in short-term loans available for custom-build and medium-sized builders.

Meanwhile, the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid intends to reform the system that allows local authorities to predict how much housing is required within each area with the long-term intention of speeding up building across England.

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