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Custom & Self Build

We all would love to live in a home specifically built with our needs at the centre. Now more than ever this is becoming a reality for everyone whether through hands on self-build or by liaising closely with custom build developers.

Self-build and custom build is all about choice, the choice of plot location, house size, style and finally who is actually going to build the dream?

The do it yourself approach is popular with some but by far the biggest proportion of self-build homes are actually built by professional developers to the clients specifications and instructions.

The principles of planning permission for self and custom build do not differ from mainstream homes although the issue of planning is one step removed for those choosing the custom build route as often custom builders will take on the responsibility for planning themselves leaving you to concentrate on the more appealing areas.

True self build, plot finding, sourcing funds, obtaining permission, sourcing builders etc. has the advantage of greater potential cost savings and some may argue greater satisfaction but both routes have their merits and are miles away from the large scale developer approach.

As planning experts we are offering our experience and an understanding of self and custom build to help you navigate around more challenging plots and planning restrictions.

If you are interested in self build and actively looking at plots you may be interested in retaining our services to review, from a planning perspective, any plots you come across to help you sort on the basis of potential.

If you prefer the idea of a custom build route, working with a specialist custom build developer, we can offer a gateway to such a methodology through a review any sites you have identified and then suggesting a suitable custom build developer to provide their expertise and input into the process.

We work closely with a number of custom build developers and for inspiration would recommend looking at this link to gain an understanding of the benefits of this route.

If you would like to contact us directly concerning self or custom build please call us on 01242 222107 or by email at

Self and custom build is regularly in the news and one of the hot topics is S106 and CIL charges which can make a huge difference to the cost of any home – here is an article outlining some of the issues.

Self Build is now exempt from Section 106 – or is it?

On 1 December 2014, Brandon Lewis MP (Housing & Planning Minister) announced changes to national policy relating to Section 106 payments planning obligations for small residential sites. It stated that contributions should not be sought from developers of schemes of 10-units or less where there is a maximum overall qualifying gross floor space area of no more than 1000sqm.

However, many self builders currently engaged in the planning system have been informed by their Local Planning Authority that these contributions will still be required to gain permission, some totalling tens of thousands of pounds.

Discussions with Councils which are still seeking these contributions have highlighted a range of justifications as to why these charges continue. These include assertions that the “changes are only guidance”, “their Section 106 charges being different to the description in the national policy” and “a viability assessment is required when submitting the application” for eligibility purposes.
It is clear that this issue is currently evolving and dialogue between local government lawyers and DCLG are as a consequence ongoing. Indeed, West Berkshire and Reading Councils are the first two to jointly challenge the government with a judicial review the outcomes of which will potentially have important and significant consequences.

Those Local Planning Authorities with recently adopted Local Plans appear to be taking a more bullish approach and are arguing that new Local Plan documents take precedence over this policy change.
This uncertainty is understandably confusing for prospective self builders and as we have stated above these charges are not being consistently sought in the same way across the country.

There are a number of options available to those who have been asked for the charges since the new policy has come into force;

• Prior to payment, even after an agreement has been reached, an option is available for a request for review on certain grounds such as viability. As such due thought should be given to the timing of any payment.

• If the Council’s legal team is still reviewing their policy on the charges you can ask your Planning Officer to delay your S106 agreement until it is definitively resolved.

• If the Council are resolute in their position then an appeal should be considered. Although this process can be lengthy, the benefits of removing a charge could be considerable.

• If you have received permission and agreed a Section 106 Agreement before the changes were announced then you can apply to have this removed if payment has not been made.

• Once a Section 106 agreement has been made and consequently monies paid over then there is no opportunity to seek recovery of these fees in the future.

So in summary, although the news of these changes is welcome and of great value to all self builders, beware of interpretation by your local authority, check the detail and do not simple assume that your new home will not, at least, initially create interest among the s106 gatherers at the LPA.