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Self builds: An insight into making the most of the Help to Build scheme

Self builds: An insight into making the most of the Help to Build scheme

According to the National Custom and Self Build Association, about one in three adults in the United Kingdom have motivations to build their own homes. However, 59% said that acquiring the money to fund the project was the biggest barrier.

The government has recognized that self-build houses are a key way of improving access to the property ladder, thus launching the Help to Build scheme to make building homes more affordable. It will allow applicants to borrow between five and 25% of their costs across England. The scheme aims to “bridge the gap” between borrowers’ deposits and the cost of building material and land. However, total costs cannot exceed £600,000, or £400,000 if the land is already owned.

A significant drain in budget can come from the popular brick and block construction method, which has raised concerns, not only because it is the least eco-friendly method but also due to its higher costs and lower efficiency. Timber frame and structural insulated panels (SIP) are proving to be better options. For instance, a SIP frame is not only seven times stronger, but its airtightness properties are greater.

With the government encouraging a significant increase in the airtightness of homes, special membranes have been developed to ensure that the brick and block popularity is supported by its efficiency as an airtight method; however, this raises the question of whether this increases upfront costs and provides long-term efficiency. Costs can get out of control, with weather-dependent builds and huge amounts of labour involved for this method. Thus, this is not suited to self-build projects under a budget.

One of the most cost-effective energy construction methods for self-builders is the SIP system. SIPs are now typically 217mm thick, offering a U-value of 0.13. Building control, mortgage and insurance companies recognise the SIP system as a standalone method of construction, contributing to its growing presence. It is becoming easier for builders and self-builders to get approved when building with SIPs. Although this method has a higher upfront cost, it has significantly higher energy saving features. A self-build home would benefit from greatly reduced energy bills in the future, especially as concerns surrounding the rising cost of living remain ongoing.

If you require any advice or information please contact the Stags Planning and Design team at or 01392 439046.