Government pushes self-building
In the news today the Government is aiming to encourage people to build their own houses, partly in an attempt to solve the problem of shortage, but also to encourage eco-buildings. Since the recession,few builders are prepared or indeed able to afford to “try out” new and/or emerging technologies. In the past few years, we have seen most of the major, bulk house-builders experimenting with different designs, techniques and technologies. Even if this was restricted to maybe one or two of the plots on a say 20-30 plot development. But as margins began to fall and the market became increasingly difficult, many limited their schemes to the “bare minimum” in terms of environmental requirements. Which of course is totally understandable.
For a long time now, it has been the self-builders who have been the pioneers in leading the way with new and emerging technologies and this can been seen by looking at the supply chain of some of these technologies. For example the Solar Thermal and Rainwater Harvesting industries still have quite a few small companies aimed at supplying the self-builders. You can also easily find a number of “one-stop-shops” acting almost like a builders merchants for these and other technologies. A few years ago television programmes such as Grand Designs, might have given national exposure say rainwater harvesting, now when describing the features of a project, these technologies are given as a list and almost expected to be included. What a step change this is!
The questions for me at this time are:
1) Will there be a boom in self-building?
2) Will banks provide the necessary financial support?
3) We have a good grant system for Solar PV at the moment, and will support be forthcoming for other techs?
Solar PV has been given a huge shot in the arm through the grant system, the Feed In Tariffs (FIT) has made it possible for any south-facing (or maybe E/W) roof to be “rented” out and so surely this is a no-brainer for any self-builder. With this is mind, it does make you wonder what the effect would be on the industry in general, if this scheme or similar could be extended out to the other technologies and eco-building techniques.