Cashing in on the self-build revolution

Friday 2nd May, 2014 | 8.00am-9.30am

The Old Operating Theatre Museum, 9a St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY.

Millions of people watch Grand Designs, and more than half the population says it would like, at some stage in their lives, to have a custom designed home built for them.  Few manage to achieve this because of the difficulty finding a plot, navigating the planning system and funding the build. But all that is about to change, and the sector is set to at least double in size over the next few years.

Ted Stevens, chairman of the National Self Build Association, explains the three main types of ‘self build’ – traditional one-off self build homes; the new wave of custom build projects; and the emerging community-led housing sector. It will identify the public and private sector organisations that are at the vanguard of the revolution that is taking place.

At the same time, around 20 new developer/enabler organisations have set up to provide ‘self build made simple’ solutions, and scores of councils and housing associations are piloting innovative community-led self build projects based on some exciting concepts that are being imported from Europe. Collectively this will have a huge impact.

All this activity and support means there are some real opportunities for architects and other building professionals. But where is the work? And how can you cash in on the expansion?




Ted is the chairman of the National Self Build Association (NaSBA) which he helped set up five years ago. NaSBA is essentially a lobbying organisation with the aim of seeing a significant expansion of the self build sector in the UK.

He has always had an interest in architecture and construction - his first job was as a journalist on the magazine Building Design. Later he became editor of Planning, and he launched the monthly publication called Energy in Buildings. In the mid 1980s he set up a marketing and PR firm (Camargue) which grew to become the biggest and most active consultancy in the property and built environment sector. In 2011 the then Housing Minister Grant Shapps asked him to help prepare an Action Plan to grow the self build sector. He lives in Gloucestershire in a house that was custom built in 2004.