Self and custom build work important for SMEs, report reveals

House builders' survey 2019, self and custom build
©Alexandr Sysoev

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) House Builders’ Survey 2019 has highlighted the importance of the self and custom build sector as a source of work for its members

The House Builders’ Survey 2019 indicates that over half of its housebuilder members have built a home to the plan and specification of a new homeowner in the last year. This reflects the close links between the small and medium-sized (SME) homes market and the self and custom build.

Each year the FMB conducts its House Builders’ Survey to assess the housing market and the constraints facing the SME market, a sector that’s experienced a dramatic decline.

In 1988, two thirds of all homes in the UK were built by SME builders. However, since 2007 the number of SME housebuilders has halved, representing a serious loss capacity.

To alleviate the housing crisis, the government wants to see the return of SME housebuilders. This aligns with its ambitions for self and custom build to be a valuable source of additional new housing.

This link between the two sectors strengthens both the National Custom and Self-Build Association (NaCSBA) and the FMB in their work to remove barriers to growth, such as access to land and finance.

The House Builders’ Survey 2019 found:  

52% of housebuilder members have built a new home to the plan and specification of the new home owner in the last year.

Of these the vast majority, 42% have built one, 32% have built 2, 10% have built 4-5 and 12% have built 6-10 homes.

The vast majority (68%) reported that one of these was on land they obtained for the development, 19% reported 2-3, 8% reported 4-5 and 3% reported 6-10.

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, CEO of the NaCSBA, said: “custom and self- build has the potential to help the Government reach its targets of creating 300,000 homes per year by the mid 2020s, and the SME sector is crucial in delivering this.

“We want to see more opportunities that create a level playing field that enables our sector to operate in the same conditions as the large housebuilders, such as having a Help to Build Equity Loan that mirrors the support that Help to Buy Equity Loan has given to the mass market.

“A Help to Build Equity Loan would also provide low-cost development finance to SME housebuilders, helping them to flourish and grow.”

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, added: “If the government is going to increase both the quantity and quality of new homes a more diverse house building industry is needed.

“The largest housebuilders build over 80% of all new homes, and just over 20% are built by SME housebuilders. This used to be the reverse with SMEs building two thirds of all new homes in the late 1980s.

“What this new research shows is that custom and self-build can help bolster SMEs because, without local builders to help find land, service the plots and to build the houses, custom and self-build delivery is much more difficult. This is why the FMB is working closely with NaCSBA to share data and knowledge to help the sector grow.”


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