28 Dec 2022
There are 14 individual plots within the custom build phase of this Crest Nicholson development in North Swindon, Wiltshire. We created a range of highly customisable house designs that works with the overall look of the site, with its emphasis on green space and open countryside, and demonstrates how custom build can integrate beautifully within the setting of a new-build development.
“With our pedigree in the self build sector we are ideally placed to work with custom build projects such as this,” says Potton self build director Paul Newman. “The outstanding results at Tadpole Garden Village are testament to how good custom build can be.
“The project shows that personal designs and aspirations can have a place within larger housing developments, both large and small. Custom build opens up the housing landscape to individuality and innovation, which can only be good for people and for the self-build/custom-build industry as a whole.”
Crest Nicholson provided the serviced plots within their site for custom build properties. We worked with potential purchasers to marry their design ambitions and ideas with plot availability on site and the requirements of the plot passports for planning approval.
Our design service included foundations, building regs, arranging structural warranty and providing energy calculations, as well as the overall design of the property. We offered a choice of our insulated timber frame, a variety of external door and window options, and a choice of stairs and joinery packages.
Paul adds: “It is wonderful that the project’s value has been recognised by the judges of these prestigious awards, we are delighted at the result.”
What is custom build?
Custom build is almost a halfway house between self build and the designs of major house builders. It offers customers the opportunity to design their home – choosing the internal floorplan, external materials and structural features such as vaulted ceilings, as well as the option of energy saving features. These could include air source heat pumps, solar panels, solar lighting and EV charging.
There are limitations not found with self build plots in that the site will usually have specific guidelines around design that the custom builder has to follow, so that the development has a cohesive identity and meets planning requirements. However on the plus side, you’re buying a serviced plot with a guarantee of securing planning permission, so bypassing the tricky stage of finding a plot and connecting to utilities – all of which can become time consuming and expensive.
Is custom build for me?
If you’re unhappy with the limitations imposed by conventional housing developments, but uncertain if the self build route is beyond your capabilities and patience, then custom build offers an excellent middle option. You’ll have lots of input into the design of your new home and control over the specification of internal finishes.
Some developments are totally custom build, while others, such as Tadpole Garden Village, are hybrid sites offering a mixture of new-build homes from large housebuilders and custom build plots. Whether you want to live as part of a small community, or a larger development, there are many possibilities available and they’re increasing in number all the time.
While not so long ago custom build was a term few were familiar with, today it is growing in terms of understanding and popularity. As a method of construction self and custom build account for more than 50% of all built homes in mainland Europe. While in the UK this figure is still only around 10%, it is increasing and is expected to grow further in coming years*. Whether you want to live as part of a small community, or within a larger development, there are many opportunities to do so out there.
How much design freedom do I have?
This depends on the site. Some schemes will be more restrictive than others, but your goal should be to find one that suits you and your dream home wish list. “Know what you want before you start looking for a site,” advises Paul Newman, self build director at Potton. “If you have a list of your requirements – the non-negotiables and the negotiables – then you’re less likely to be swayed in the moment by the allure of any particular custom build project you happen to be visiting or considering.”
It goes without saying that your custom build partner should be experienced in the field. “Ask to see designs and photos from previous projects the builder has worked on, go and visit the sites, see what the finished product looks like,” continues Paul. “Do your research, custom build can be more expensive than self build so you want to get it right from the beginning.”
How will I finance my build?
The Government’s Help to Build Equity Loan Scheme launched in June 2022 with the aim of bringing self and custom build within the reach of many more people. It is similar to the Help to Buy scheme in that you need at least 5% deposit and a mortgage (self build); the loan is equity-based (from 5% - 20% of the estimated total cost, up to 40% in London), and there’s a £600,000 limit to the cost of your build, including land.
Coupled with Right to Build, which was introduced in 2016 – whereby local authorities have to keep a register of people wanting to build their own homes and ensure planning permission is granted to enough plots to realise this demand – Help to Build is sure to make custom build more achievable for more people.
To find out if you’re eligible for Help to Build and to apply for the equity loan, check out the government website.
* Ref: Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning ‘Self-build and Custom Housebuilding in the UK: An Evidence Review’, January 2022