Two-thirds of potential self-builders do not know that they can borrow to buy land

According to research from Suffolk Building Society, over two-thirds (69%) of potential self-builders do not know that mortgage lenders will allow them to borrow to purchase land where planning permission has been granted.

Correspondingly, concern over financing a project was the number one barrier for those interested in self-build: other concerns were around seeking planning permission and difficulties in finding suitable land.

The society believes the lack of awareness about being able to borrow for land may discourage people from considering self-build.

Suffolk Building Society is aiming to normalise self-build and in doing so, urges brokers to help spread the word that self-build is also a viable option for those with modest budgets.

Its recent research found that over half (54%) of those who are considering a self-build at some point in the future believe that self-build is reserved only for the very wealthy.

The propensity to consider a self-build decreases with age: younger people in their 20s (60%) and 30s (56%) are significantly more interested than those in their 50s (16%) and 60s (7%), dispelling the myth that self-build is a project for retirement.

Of those considering self-build, 31% would prefer to go for a completely new build, 27% said they would opt for a knockdown/rebuild project, and 21% said they would undertake a major renovation to an existing property.

The main motivation cited by over a quarter (28%) was the ability to design the layout of their own home, but this is a significant drop from 51% in 2020.

There was a broader range of reasons evident in this year’s research including self-building being a more affordable way of creating an ideal home (15%) and having a home in the right location (12%). 

One in ten (9%) of those considering a self-build are doing so to create a home suitable for multiple generations under one roof.

Four in five (83%) want to make eco-friendly decisions about their future property. However, of these, seven in ten would only prioritise this if it was within their budget. Which is reflective of the current economic environment.

Richard Norrington, CEO at Suffolk Building Society, said: “The National Custom and Self Build Association campaigned diligently for the Self-Build Registers in a bid to facilitate a greater number of self-build homes.

“But so far, this has not been realised.

“As a country, we need to normalise self-build, encouraging regular people to build good homes, thus helping to reduce the housing shortage in the process and improving the collective carbon footprint of our housing stock. 

“There are undoubtedly more hurdles in this process than in a standard house purchase - particularly now, with high labour and material costs.

“However, being able to design a property that meets your needs both in terms of function and aesthetics is hugely rewarding.

“We would like more people to know that some lenders are ready and willing to lend on land as well as for the build itself, and secondly, that self-build is more accessible than they might have previously thought.”

Richard added: “Self-build television series undoubtedly make for great viewing, but they do set the bar remarkably high.

“One could easily assume that self-build is only for those with unlimited time and deep pockets.  

“The cost-of-living crisis has not significantly dampened people’s appetite for self-build: a third of people are still considering self-build, which is only a small decrease from 35% last time the survey was undertaken in July 2020.”

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