KBzine: the original kitchen and bathroom industry e-news - since 2002
21st April 2017
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Some years back when our daughters were little, their father and I attended a 'self-build' show and came away determined to build our own home. We subscribed to all the magazines and Jason set about some major DIY jobs at our ramshackle Victorian semi, with a view to learning as much as he could about the various trades involved and how to go about them; the idea being that we would do what self-build work we could manage ourselves, but for what we couldn't do, we would be armed with the knowledge of what those tackling the larger jobs should be doing, when and how.
Back then (it was the early '80s) there weren't the mortgage constraints people have to overcome these days. We could borrow far more than we should have been allowed to (I believe it was slightly over eight times our income!) and our financial advisor knew all the tricks required to convince a lender that we could easily pay back whatever we might borrow. It rather frightens me to think about it now...
Our problem was though, that however hard we looked and however flexible we were prepared to be regarding its whereabouts, we just couldn't find any land. In the end this was a dream we had to give up on.
Twenty-odd years on and mortgages are really hard to come by. What little land there may have been has been built on. Within a five mile radius of my house alone, five large psychiatric hospitals and a convent school have been closed down and turned into sprawling housing estates and householders with larger gardens are being pressured by builders to sell off some of their land so a new property can be built there. I'm a sales negotiator at an estate agent's at the weekends and am well aware that every time a larger than average property comes to market, there will be queues of builders wanting to view the land (not the house) and learn about any previous planning proposals.
While I commend Housing Minister Grant Shapps highly supportive reaction to the National Self Build Association's report 'An Action Plan to promote the growth of self build housing in the UK' (see more below in this week's news) I can't help feeling that the reality - in my neck of the woods at least - will be nothing like the dream.
29th July 2011