Lender unease over Shah’s wooden homes

Newspaper publisher and author Eddie Shah is building 44 environmentally-friendly wooden lodges that he says will save 60% of the cost of running a house.

The three and four-bedroom lodges, set to be completed by August 2007, can only be used as second homes. Sizes vary and prices range from £198,000 to £265,000.

The lodges’ green credentials are boosted by low-energy lights and solarpowered light tubes.

But some lenders are cautious about lending on the buildings.

HBOS, Alliance & Leicester and NatWest all say that they would lend on a property made of wood, as long as the valuation is satisfactory.

But Nationwide says it is unlikely that it would be able to lend on such a property.

A spokesperson for the society says: “If the property has a timber frame and has been built since 1970 our normal lending terms will apply so long as it has brick or stone outer walls.

“But if a house is totally constructed from timber it is unlikely that we would lend on it unless it is of modern construction, in which case it would be individually assessed.”

Mortgage Express also says it un-likely to lend on a property made en-tirely of wood.

Shah came to fame in the early 1980s as the first UK newspaper publisher to defeat the print unions after a seven-month national strike. He founded newspapers Today and The Post (both now defunct) and is the owner of the Messenger Group.

He says he is confident in using wood in the construction of his lodges because he says it is environmentally sustainable and provides better insulation than brick.

He says: “We should look at different ways of manufacturing homes. Nobody is taking this seriously.”