Scottish Housing Minister, Kevin Stewart, confirmed the fund will be rolled out nationwide from Autumn 2018. This follows the success of the pilot Highland Self Build Loan Fund (HSBLF) scheme, which launched in April 2016.
The Highland pilot saw self-builders finance their projects through the fund, before accessing a traditional mortgage for the life of the loan on completion of their build. Open to part and full home owners, the HSBLF allowed families to borrow up to £150,000 in agreed stage payments, selling their interest in their property in order to access the fund.
Over the next three years the nationwide fund will offer financial backing to anyone wanting to build their own home in Scotland.
Kevin Stewart commented: “We know many people seeking to build a bespoke home, which is tailored to their family needs, can find it tough getting the right advice and securing funding.
“There was considerable interest in the fund following the launch of the pilot in the Highlands, which is why we have made the decision to make an early announcement on the national roll-out.
“This will give potential applicants the time to investigate housing plots and obtain the necessary permissions, so they can be ready to apply to the fund when it opens.”
Angela Doran, NaCSBA’s custom and self build representative for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, commented: “In essence, the Self-Build Loan Fund rolls out the Highland pilot scheme across the country. The details are yet to be finalised about how the fund will function, but it’s an extremely positive step in the right direction.”
In addition, Scottish Government is now taking applications for a Challenge Fund, to support pilot projects in a bid to expand the custom and self-build sector across Scotland. Its aim is to help planning departments develop ways to better respond to the needs of people undertaking a project.
Scottish Government showed further support of custom and self-build, following outline planning changes for 2017-18. In its Places, People and Planning consultation document, published in January 2017, Scottish Government outlined 20 proposed changes to the country’s planning system. These included simplifying and improving procedures for preparing plans and enabling communities to have more say in the future of their areas.
Among the planning changes announced in the document, government stated its determination to increase delivery of custom and self-build homes, as well as providing more flexibility for both individual homeowners and the construction industry. These measures would allow developments to progress more quickly.
Doran said: “With these measures, the Scottish government’s aim is to facilitate greater mainstream development of self and custom build housing throughout Scotland.
“I have been working with Scottish government officials for some time on the scaling up of custom and self-build in Scotland. There remains much to do to make an impact on housing delivery, but these are really positive steps to raise the profile of custom homes and self-build, and help make it a realistic choice for everyone, not just the privileged few.”
Words: Jen Grimble: Photo: Rhys Asplundh/creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0
The fact that Scottish Government has shown willingness to invest and support custom and self-build is a huge step forward for the sector. Placing the industry in the spotlight can only be a good thing, but measures need to be realistic, and my concern is that the Challenge Fund, in particular, is woefully inadequate to truly kick-start innovation.