13 Apr 2016

Custom build provides route to affordable homes, thanks to charity support

Custom build provides route to affordable homes, thanks to charity support

Liverpool charity Housing People, Building Communities (HPBC) has completed its Kingsley Road project in Toxteth, Liverpool. The innovative scheme has created  32 affordable homes for first time buyers on a site that combined elements of custom build, in that layout has been influenced by the purchasers, with aspects of self build in the form of sweat equity.

To be part of the scheme, purchasers committed to work 500 hours to help build the properties, which they can then buy on a shared ownership basis with HPBC’s development partner, Sanctuary Group. The sweat equity was estimated to reduce the price by £10,000 on average, with the added benefit that the collaborative working practice helps create a strong and cohesive community with real neighbourly spirit.

The scheme benefitted from charity donations, which helped keep costs to a minimum, with support from the Homes and Communities Agency, Liverpool City Council and building companies, including Wienerberger and Wickes, which donated materials. The development includes a diverse range of people building on the scheme – many of whom had little skills or experience prior to their involvement. HPBC plans to replicate this homeownership model on subsequent schemes.

Having visited the site, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis commented: “This unique and ingenious initiative combining self-build with shared ownership is a great example of Britain building again.”

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis on site at Kingsley Road

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis on site at Kingsley Road

Liza Parry, HPBC chief executive, said: “The involvement of home partners in the build process through ‘sweat equity’ allows them to play a significant role in their design and construction. They have a say in elements such as the ground floor layout, and some have been specifically designed so that a loft conversion can easily be added at the home partner’s own cost, either at the time of building or at a later date.

“With the experience we’ve gained, the potential for scaling up is tremendous.  With the new legislation requiring councils to provide land for custom and self-build, willing partners to help with materials and labour and new building techniques such as volumetric, there is every possibility that communities can design, determine and deliver their own futures up and down the country.”

The main photo shows home partners Linda & George Anyakwo with their two sons, all of whom contributed to the work on their home.

Editor’s comment

This is creative, bottom-up thinking, that shows what can be achieved at a local, grass roots level. HPBC’s work is commendable, and shows the capacity people have to contribute to their own homes, both from a design perspective and with sweat equity. As well as contributing to affordability these schemes have social equity in that they forge community, often in areas that can get branded as disadvantaged, with the negative connotations that come with this. Such schemes are reliant on charities and philanthropic companies guiding them – rather than profit-driven developers. This is housing diversity actually happening, and local authorities should take note and work out how they can encourage such growth in their own areas.


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