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What is self and custom build?

Self build

Self build is when you design, plan and are closely involved in building your own home, you might do it all yourself or you might employ different contractors to carry out parts of the build.

Self builders can be individuals or part of a group of households.

Custom build

Custom build is a method of commissioning a home where a company takes on the tasks of; finding a plot, assembling the project, applying for planning permission and project managing the construction of the home. Homes are built to the specification of the purchasers, depending on what stage they become involved in the project. 

Group self/custom build

Friends, neighbours and strangers can come together to support each other through the self or custom build stages of finding land/property, acquiring finance, agreeing what to build and finally constructing the homes.

There are a range of benefits to this approach including:

  • boosting capacity to make the project happen,
  • sharing skills and expertise and
  • joint bulk purchasing of materials and services.

Self building with others can reduce costs where a degree of standardisation can be agreed between future residents (in for example the selection of construction materials and the choice of kitchens and bathrooms). Building homes as part of a group also helps to create community as you get to know your new neighbours through working on the project.  The challenges occur in groups learning to work together. Cohousing Network (opens new window) has useful resources on group decision making that can be applied to all types of group self build.

There are different structures of group self and custom build that come under the umbrella of the term 'community led housing '.The term 'community led housing' is commonly used to describe homes that are developed and/or managed by local people or residents, in not for profit organisational structures.

There are a range of models that can be adopted for group self build project, for more information and case studies visit:

There are other models too, and a useful comparative chart describing the different models and why different communities have taken different approaches is available at the end of this report on small scale community led housing.

Contact us

Housing Growth Team
Housing, Environment and Healthy Communities
Gateshead Council
Civic Centre

0191 433 3462