Home Improvements

by Hannah Fenton

November 22, 2017

Peter Womersley Modernist house, Valley Spring

Built in the Sixties and nestled in a wooden dell, Valley Spring is a Modernist masterpiece with the majority of its original features intact. South…

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. I think the best way to do it is to form a co-operative or community land trust, in which a group of self-builders come together to buy a large piece of land and build several homes on it. With more people involved, you’ll have more options when negotiating development funds from a bank. Plus, if everyone contributes to actually creating the homes, project costs can be dramatically reduced. At the moment, group self-build developments have far more chance of getting off the ground. I’d like to see a selfbuild revolution in Britain, but we would need to work together to make that happen.

 George Clarke on why Britain should be a nation of self builders 2

Credit: Darren Chung, Jefferson Smith

Kevin McCloud on how our homes give us the chance to reflect and have new experiences

Our editor-at-large ponders how our homes can give us a chance to reflect and have new experiences.
how-our-homes-give-us-the-chance-to-reflect-and-have-new-experiences
new-build-by-the-sea-in-donegal-ireland
Self Build Homes

New build by the sea in Donegal, Ireland

In an inspirational coastal setting, this contemporary take on a traditional Irish home was designed to embrace its surroundings and be a sociable space for...
contemporary-eco-new-build-home-in-denmark
Self Build Homes

Contemporary eco new build home in Denmark

The design of Rasmus and Lene’s Danish home connects with its woodland setting, making it a natural winner.
george-clarke-on-why-britain-should-be-a-nation-of-self-builders
Self Build Homes

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.
case-study-hi-tech-contemporary-kitchen
Self Build Homes

Case study: Hi-tech contemporary kitchen

Hi-tech appliances combine with contemporary style in this new-build family home in West London.
case-study-en-suite-bathroom-design-for-life
Self Build Homes

Case study: En suite bathroom design for life

Gavin and Sally Cooke planned ahead when they built their new en suite to suit their visiting parents’ needs.
new-build-villa-in-bloemendaal-netherlands
Self Build Homes

New build villa in Bloemendaal, Netherlands

Paul and Eugenie de Ruiter's Holland home blends effortlessly into the dunescape with its clean lines and simple palette of dark wood and glass.