Potential self-builders unaware they can borrow to buy land, study reveals

Over two thirds of potential self-builders (69%) do not know that mortgage lenders will allow them to borrow to purchase land where planning permission has been granted.

This is according to research from Suffolk Building Society, which also warned that concern over financing a project was the number one barrier for those interested in self-build. Other concerns cited were around seeking planning permission and difficulties in finding suitable land.

Suffolk’s research was based on a study among 2,000 UK adults and the society has suggested there is a lack of awareness about being able to borrow for land may discourage people from considering self-build.

The research found that over half (54%) of those who are considering a self-build project in the future believe that self-build is reserved only for the “very wealthy”.

Chief executive at Suffolk Building Society, Richard Norrington, said: “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.

“Self-build is considered a fairly standard route to homeownership in countries such as Hungary, France, and Sweden, and with better education and awareness from lenders, brokers and the industry as a whole, self-build could become more mainstream here in the UK too.”

The society also highlighted that the cost of living crisis has failed to significantly dampen people’s appetite for self-build, finding that 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.

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

“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,” Norrington added.

“There are undoubtedly more hurdles in this process than in a standard house purchase – particularly at the moment 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.”

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