Comment: Keep a close eye on custom build

The evolving sector can help meet the urgent need for more new homes.

There remains a vital need to build more good-quality homes across the country. The government has been clear on its ambition to achieve 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s, which follows 217,000 homes built last year – the biggest increase in housing supply in England for almost a decade.

This commitment has been further underlined by the government teaming up with us to provide £1bn of development finance to small- and medium-sized developers and housebuilders. The fund ensures the right type of finance is available for projects that help meet this urgent need.

We are not the only lender pushing the new build agenda. Douglas Cochrane, head of housing development at Lloyds Banking Group, offered some interesting insights at a new build and housing delivery seminar during the Financial Services Expo London event.

He highlighted custom build as an area under close investigation by the government, and one expected to rise in prominence over the course of 2019. This follows on from the high-profile story of the Graven Hill Project in Oxfordshire, which has been described as the UK’s boldest experiment in self build and custom build homes.

In July, we also saw the House of Lords’ science and technology committee recommend the use of off-site manufacture as one way of increasing housing supply.

Innovation remains key for developers and housebuilders, whether in terms of construction or finance. We have seen building societies such as Buckinghamshire, Saffron and West Brom make additions and changes to their self build lending portfolios in recent weeks, and I expect many other lenders – large and small – to follow suit. All of which means intermediaries should be keeping a close eye on this evolving sector in the coming months.

Craig Calder is director of intermediaries at Barclays Mortgages

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