How easy is it to build your own home?

According to the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA), the average self-builder saves 15% to 20% on the cost of a house compared to what it would cost to buy the same property. While there has been speculation that house prices may be about to come down, the cost of housing is still out of reach for many first time buyers and those looking to move to a larger home.

Building your own home might be something you had not considered before. If that’s the case then you’re not alone as only 8% of new homes in the UK are self-builds. However, in many other countries it is much more popular, such as in Germany where 60% of new homes are self-built and Japan, where the figure is 90%1.

The popularity of self-builds is starting to grow and there is more and more support available to turn ideas into reality.

A couple plan to build their own home.

Different types of self-build

The term self-build often conjures up an image of Kevin McLeod from Grand Designs discussing the construction of an ambitious project which needs a fortune to complete. However, building your own home can assume many forms, and need not be something unattainable or requiring a lottery win to finance. In reality, a self-build can include:

  • renovations to your existing property
  • barn conversions or converting two properties into one
  • conversions to your basement, loft or garage
  • large extensions

The Self-Build Portal, a website produced by NaCSBA, defines a self-build as a project where someone directly organises the design and construction of their new home. This covers a wide range of projects, from traditional self-built homes where individuals select the design they want and then do much of the construction work themselves, to projects where they arrange for an architect and contractor to do the work for them. Or it could be a project delivered by kit home companies, where the self-builder still has to find the plot, arrange for the foundations to be built and then have the company erect the property.

It’s possible to build a property in lots of different ways and councils are now being encouraged to help.

Council support

In 2015 the government passed legislation which encourages more self-built properties. The Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act makes local authorities responsible for providing a register of people seeking to locate a serviced plot where they could build a house. Councils have an obligation to maintain and publicise the register, and the government is trying to ensure that there are enough plots brought to market for that purpose.

Some councils have used the spirit of this legislation in their affordable housebuilding strategy. They build the shell of a house (foundations, walls and roof), which people can buy and finish the interiors themselves. This reduces the cost and enables people to create their own home in their own style. Ask your local council to see if this is happening in your area.

Where to find help and support

We’ve produced a list of helpful associations and publications which can be found below. The list provides information on things like where to find plots, the legislation you need to know and the details of experts who regularly produce articles and advice.

And we can help too.

Saffron has years of experience providing finance for people looking to build their own homes. We can support you along the way with a mortgage which will release funds at several stages in line with the progress of your build. If you want to know more about our mortgages then call us on 0800 072 1100, or look at our self-build mortgages.


Planning permission, regulations, warranty

Building plots


Resources and forums

Insurance help



  1. BBC – New Home Legislation, April 2015

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