Issues seem to be perpetually ongoing regarding supply and demand for housing, despite Government incentives launched a couple of years ago to promote more ecological self-build and custom build homes.
Grand and modest designs were encouraged for those inspired by eco-friendly renovation or extension possibilities, through Green Deal promises that now seem to have fizzled out with the same zest as a dampened touch paper. The duel problems of too few houses at too high a price continue to restrict, certainly the first time buyer sector.
Although some housing matters have moved forward positively, with a few odd restrictions eased and talk from the top of Government filtering out about a Right-To-Build, there still seems to be a lack of high profile support.
To date a fundamental part of the problem would seem to relate to finding a location where a self-builder can start out on his project. Land still remains a premium. It was encouraging news when Cherwell District Council purchased land for the UK’s first, large-scale, self-build project last year, which allowed for up to 1,900 detached houses and flats all complete with planning permission to be built.
The Ministry of Defence sold 462 acres (187 hectares) of land near Bicester, which after purchase by the Oxfordshire Council, enabled budding self-builders to register their interest with the option of being able to team up together to build terraces and apartments.
As building is now well under way it has proved a positive enterprise, with a variety of kit homes, group-build schemes and properties designed by owners but built by contractors all under construction. It would seem that self-build is a fast growing sector that is managing to bridge the house owning gap with gusto.
Self-build would seem to make a lot of financial sense, with a property of this type worth on average around 25 per cent more than the cost of building and land once the project is completed. It certainly would seem to be an area of potential for suppliers although with standards and regulations, it would still leave room for plenty of installers and building companies, to answer the call of the niche home designer who lacks the skillsets to build it himself.
However potential issues could arise when those properties come to be sold on as undoubtedly installation accreditation, certification and product guarantees will still remain the vital component of any house sale. A veritable red-tape minefield to the uninitiated or badly prepared.
With guarantees in mind CERTASS Ltd has now launched a free photo ID MTC skills card for all new, suitably qualified site operatives registered with the UKAS accredited industry body.
Appreciating the impact of costly MTC accreditation CERTASS has introduced two levels of ID. The first option is for sole traders with a lower, one-off registration fee and subsequent low cost direct debit options. The second choice launched is for companies with several site operatives, where a one-off registration fee is required for the number of qualified site operatives, followed by a low monthly fee for each individual.
Whether a builder, contractor or self-builder, undoubtedly, when it comes to new and self build properties then renewable energy will continue to grow increasingly important. In spite of a disappointing uptake for the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) according to Greenworks, installers have never been in a better position to add viable benefits to their core skills, by training to become a renewable energy installer and educating consumers on reducing energy bills and carbon footprints.
As weather extremes will definitely continue to cause issues for the building sector to resolve, Government officials must now surely try to focus on alternative forms of energy, particularly renewable energy, to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Higher profile support for these products would make a great start.
Finally when looking at new projects, one great new building design caught our eye in respect of both professional builders or budding DIY enthusiasts. Those wishing to finish the day or savour the weekend with a cinema screening, then the Torii Cinema Company has brought the silver screen right to our very own back gardens in the form of a shed conversion with a difference.
A carefully designed shed with entrance porch magically transforms once inside, into a luxurious, fully fitted cinema complete with lighting, big screen, plush velvet seating and even treats for the interval. Now that has to be a really great place to finish any day or project whether it’s deemed a ‘man-cave’ or ‘she-shed’.
Article written by Helen Duval