Self and Custom Build Housing
What is Self and Custom Build?
Self and custom build housing is housing built by individuals or
groups for their own use, either by building the home on their own
or by working with builders. The Government recognises that homes
built in this way are often cheaper, greener, more affordable and
more innovatively designed than standard market housing and they
offer a real alternative to buying 'off the peg' houses that may
not meet your household's needs. There is more information about
different types of self and custom build housing options towards
the bottom of this page.
The Self and Custom Housebuilding Register
The Council holds a register of people who are interested in
self build and custom build opportunities in the borough. The
Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 requires relevant
authorities, including Bedford Borough Council, to keep a register
of individuals and associations of individuals who are seeking to
acquire serviced plots of land for self and custom housebuilding.
The definition and operation of the register is set out in
Self-build and Custom Housebuilding (Register) Regulations 2016
and more information about the purpose of the register can be found
National Planning Practice Guidance. Importantly The Act
requires the Council to have regard to the register when carrying
out its functions in relation to planning, housing, regeneration
and the disposal of any land owned by the Council. The register is
not publicly available.
Do I Qualify for Entry on the Register?
To be included on the register you (and in appropriate cases all
the individual members of your association) need to meet the
following eligibility criteria:
- You must be aged 18 or over;
- You must be a British citizen, a national of an EEA State other
than the United Kingdom, or a national of Switzerland; and
- You must want to acquire a serviced plot of land to build a
house to occupy as you sole or main home.
How do I make an Application ?
You can apply to be placed on the register by completing one of
the application forms below. Once we have received your completed
application we will:
- Determine your application within 28 days of receiving it;
- If you are eligible, we will make an entry on the register and
let you know that this has been done in writing within 28 days of
determining the application. If the application is from an
association, we will only notify the lead contact as identified in
the application; and
- If you are not eligible we will write to you to explain the
reasons for that decision within 28 days of determining the
application. If the application is from an association, we will
only notify the lead contact as identified in the application.
Any person who appears on the register may seek removal or
amendment of details by submitting an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org
or by sending a letter to the Housing Strategy Team at the address
Applications for entry on the register can be made on-line or by
downloading and returning a form to email@example.com
If you prefer to download the form print it and return it by post,
please send your completed application to The Housing Strategy
Team, Bedford Borough Council, Borough Hall, Cauldwell Street,
Bedford. MK42 9AP (please attach a stamp).
Apply as an individual or household for 1 plot
Apply as an association
At this initial stage you are making no commitment. By
registering you are helping us to find out how much local demand
there is and what sort of homes people would like to build so that
we can develop local policies aimed at making appropriate land
available. The Council invites, in particular, people or
associations with a connection to Bedford to register their
interest but the register will not be restricted to those
What types of Self and Custom Build are there?
There are a number of ways in which
self-builders and custom builders can develop their own home.
Firstly, there are different approaches to the process – some
self-builders take forward projects alone, others work in groups.
Secondly, the level of self- build varies – ranging from
self-builders carrying out the whole of the construction to custom
builders who hire a contractor to carry out the construction
through to completion. Some of the typical approaches are described
Contractor Built One-off Home
This is the most common form of self-build. Here the home owner
manages the design process including finding the land, hiring an
appropriate consultant, and securing planning permission and building regulations approval. About half of all
owners then hire a main contractor to do all the construction work;
the other half project-manage the construction phase and hire
various sub-contractors to do the work. The owner might also do
some of the simpler tasks such as decorating. Approximately two
thirds of self builds are currently carried out this way.
Self-Built One-off Home
Here the owner follows a similar route to the method outlined
above except that they then do virtually all of the construction
work themselves. This is popular with people who want to take ‘a
hands on’ approach and who may already have experience of
Kit or Package Home
The owner finds the plot of land and then works with a kit home
company to finalise the plans. The kit company then supply and
erect the house. Sometimes the self-builder just has a watertight
shell built, and then does the fitting out work themselves.
Developer Built One-off Home
Here the owner finds a developer with a site and a design that
meets their requirements, and the developer then builds it out for
Supported Community Self build
This is where a group of people come together to share their
skills and build a number of houses collectively. The group will
normally all work on everyone’s house until completion. Often these
schemes include training to boost the participants’ knowledge of
building. Some community groups form themselves and some are
co-ordinated by housing associations or other agencies.
Independent Community Collaboration
Here a group is formed to acquire a
larger site which is split into individual plots. They then
organise the design and construction of their own home, sometimes
collaborating with others to, for example, order materials in bulk.
This is a common approach in Continental Europe, but is currently
relatively rare in the UK. However, it is expected to grow in
Developer/Contractor led Group Project
A developer/contractor finds a suitable site then seeks a number
of self-build clients and builds the homes to their specification
under contract. Often the developer provides an option to just
build a watertight shell, so the owner can ‘self-finish’. An
alternative arrangement is for the developer to offer serviced
plots which are sold ‘off plan’ with a design and build contract.
This is a new approach to the UK, however it is common in other
countries and is expected to grow in popularity here.
How can I find out more about Self and Custom Build?
More information about self and custom build housing can be
found on the government-endorsed web site www.selfbuildportal.org.uk