George Clarke on why Britain should be a nation of self-builders

The architect and presenter of Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces and The Restoration Man shares his latest tips and ideas.

By Hannah Fenton | 8 September 2017

The architect and presenter of Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces and The Restoration Man shares his latest tips and ideas.

George Clarke on why Britain should be a nation of self builders 1

Britain should be a nation of self-builders. We are passionate about our homes, and thousands of us would love the opportunity to construct them ourselves. So it’s strange that so few landowners and councils release land for this purpose.

The UK is near the bottom of the global league table for the number of selfbuilders per capita: the National Custom & Self-Build Association (NaCSBA) puts the figure at somewhere around eight per cent of new-builds, compared with almost 50 per cent in some European countries. Further afield, the market for build-ready plots is stronger – New Zealand, for example, is particularly encouraging of those who want to construct their own homes.

The main issue in the UK seems to be availability of land. Planning consent is hard to come by, and in my experience, once people get it, they often sell to developers for profit. But there’s hope for budding builders out there. The NaCSBA’s self-build portal (selfbuildportal.org.uk/ needaplot) links those who want to take on a project with people in their area with land to sell.