Focus On: The Custom Build Route & Cost Savings

Do you want a unique home but are not sure whether self building is the right route for you? Custom build can take some of the risk away
Sofia Delgado
by Sofia Delgado
11th November 2018

Custom build is a new route to a bespoke home that’s gaining popularity in the UK.

The idea behind this route is for developers or councils to help enable the delivery of more plots and projects across the country. It takes some of the risk out of self build, while still delivering bespoke homes.

So I catch up with Gus Zogolovitch, founder and managing director of Unboxed Homes and NaCSBA (National Custom & Self Build Association) board member about getting a bespoke home through the custom build route.

What’s different about Unboxed Homes and the routes to building a home you offer?

Unboxed Homes is a specialist custom build developer, which means we give property buyers the opportunity to have a say in how the finished product is going to be.

We are focusing on making available different solutions to cater for diverse needs and levels of involvement as we move forward with more sites. For our latest project in South London, we are constructing five terraced houses up to shell stage.

The structure of each home will be weather proof with windows and doors installed, as well as a basic staircase. There are no interior wall finishes, plumbing or electrics – meaning it’s a blank canvas for people to customise however they want.

Owners can choose whether they want to have two large bedrooms instead of three, for instance, or perhaps opt for ensuites. The exterior appearance will be finished as approved by the planners.

We are currently in the process of securing more land in other areas of the city and we’ll be bringing bundle options for buyers.

They will have the choice of either buying the shell, an essentials package – which will allow people to effectively move in to a home with a basic finish – or to purchase a fully bespoke dwelling.

Innovative custom build project by the watersideNicola and Jim Combe had lived in and appreciated the qualities of new-build developments for many years.

So when they started their search for their dream home and saw the brand new Aldcliffe Yard canal-side development in Lancaster advertised in a local newspaper, they jumped at the chance to find out more about the opportunity.

“We initially considered tackling a traditional self-build, but thought it would be too difficult,” says Nicola. “When we set up a meeting with housing developers H20 we didn’t even know there was a custom build route available. However, after learning more about the scheme we realised that it would be a good compromise between running your own project and buying off-plan.”

Read their story: Innovative Waterside Custom Build Home

Who can benefit from choosing to custom build?

We work with people who want a home that suits their unique lifestyle needs, but perhaps don’t feel like dealing with the risk of a self build.

The core idea is to take a lot of the pressure off the buyers’ shoulders, as we deal with finding and appraising land, securing planning permission and carrying out groundworks, which are usually the hardest steps in any construction project. We also ensure all services are connected, so our plots are fully serviced.

What about the costs of custom build?

The custom build route not only gives people design flexibility and peace of mind, but can potentially help them save money, too.

Property owners custom building are able to decide whether they wish to do DIY work to cut back on spending or hire contractors to finish the interiors. They also have the freedom to choose and source materials themselves, allowing them to find competitive prices.

In a sense, the experience is not that dissimilar to buying an existing property and thoroughly renovating it. Only with shell structures you’re not paying for stuff you don’t want and everything is new. These dwellings are probably more energy-efficient, too. Another boon is that the items you buy for the fit-out won’t have VAT.

Custom build offers quality housing at a more affordable price than what’s currently out there. Purchasers can potentially save in the region of 20-25% compared to purchasing a like-for-like existing home in the same area – although this figure will vary according to the interior spec they end up going for.

What finance options are available for buyers with Unboxed Homes?

People can cover the cost of their properties either by selling their current home, meaning they buy in cash, or by applying for a specialist custom build mortgage (find out more about lenders on page 123).

NaCSBA is working towards the possibility of the government implementing a Help to Build scheme in the future. Unfortunately, Help to Buy is not currently available for this route.

At Unboxed Homes we want to encourage people to choose these types of projects, so we offer discounts to those who sign up during the early stages – before construction begins, for instance. We also have reduced prices for those who buy in cash and make advance payments, as they don’t need to wait for the mortgage stages to clear.

What can you tell me about the work being carried out at the Blenheim Grove project in South London?

This scheme consists of five three-storey houses in Peckham Rye, a central location that’s only 10 minutes by train from London Bridge.

We worked with local architect Poulsom Middlehurst and all the homes feature a split-level layout. Each will have a roof terrace, and have two access to back patios.

Planning has been approved and we just broke ground. We are aiming to have the shells ready by early 2019.

The purchasers will be then able take as long as they need to finish up their space. Unlike self builds, there’s no strict timeline for them as we have implemented the planning and subsequently constructed the dwellings, which will look like finished homes from the outside. Some of these houses are still available for sale.

Find out more about custom build opportunities: Unboxed Homes.

Top Image: The Blenheim Grove project in South London. Once the shell is complete, owners are able to create bespoke interiors for their homes ­– either by carrying out work themselves or hiring a contractor

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