Where to self-build a home in England

In April 2016 the Government launched a series of laws under the Right to Build banner. It aims to encourage more self- and custom-build homes in England.

Why? Because the Government understands that self- and custom-build homes can provide a valuable contribution to the country’s housing need, providing a wide range of house styles, layouts, and use of innovative methods.

Also, less than 10% of new homes built in England are custom or self-build homes. We lag behind many European countries where rates are 30% and higher. According to the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA), England has the lowest proportion of self-build homes in the developed world.

Right to Build requires all local authorities in England to keep a register of self- and custom-home builders seeking a plot with planning permission within the authority. The legislation requires that the authority must provision a plot1 within three years of registration.

The Government has published the data on these registers, including the number of plots made available. For the first time, we have a picture of demand for self- and custom-build homes, and how that demand is being met.

For brevity, we will refer to self- and custom-build homes as self-build homes throughout this report.

1 Plot Provisioning: Local authorities can meet the demand on the registers by providing development permission for suitable serviced plots, meaning thy either have access to a public highway and connections for electricity, water and waste water, or these services that can be made available




What do the overall numbers say?

Where is the highest demand for self-build?

Which local authorities have provided the most self-build plots?

How many people are on my local self-build register?

How many self-build plots has my local authority provided?

How much do plots and self-build homes cost (by region)?

Notes on the data: a complete picture?


What do the overall numbers tell us?

By the end of October 2016 there was a total of 17,864 on the self-build registers. By the end of October 2020, a total of 46,714 had registered and 34,838 plots had been provisioned. This data has been published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), where you can also read accompanying notes on the data.


Where is the highest demand for self-build homes?

The 10 local authorities with the highest number of self-build applicants on their registers are shown below. Data correct to October 2020, published July 21.

Which local authorities have provided the most plots?

The 10 local authorities that have provided the most plots recorded under the Right to Build scheme are (Data correct to October 2020, published July 21):

How many people are registered in my local authority?

The map below shows the total number of self-build register applicants for each local authority in England as of 30 October 2020. Note that The Broads and the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames authorities are exempt.

The map also shows where local authorities apply criteria for applicants’ eligibility.

A local connection test may be based on residency, a family member residing in the local area or having an employment connection to the locality. Some authorities align their test with local planning policies, for example relating to affordable housing or rural exception sites.

Authorities can also choose to adopt a financial solvency test, which may include assessing whether the applicant can afford to purchase a plot of land. Authorities need to consider that applicants may be using self and custom build as a route to affordable home ownership.

Finally, local authorities can charge a fee for being on their Right to Build register, and can refuse entry until the fee is paid.


More rural areas tend to be more popular, especially in an arc to the north and west of London, into East Anglia, with popular areas in the south of England further west and into Cornwall. Border counties with Wales also see high numbers of applicants. Birmingham, Manchester and West Yorkshire counties buck this trend somewhat, and there’s a ring of high demand around Bristol. An apparent lack of interest in the Lake District counties may be a reflection of high land values, national park restrictions and lack of build opportunities.

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How many plots has my local authority provided?

The map below shows the number of planning permissions granted for serviced plots for each local authority in England. The data is correct as of 30 October 2020 and covers four years, from October 2016. Authorities have up to three years to provide suitable plots for Build to Register applicants.

Note: Not all local authorities are proactively informing people of their self-build register of available land opportunities. The map below shows local authorities that are informing registrants of suitable plots of land.


Authorities where demand is high tend to grant the most planning permissions, which is what you might expect. Cornwall and Cherwell are way ahead in terms of permissions granted (Graven Hill custom build development is in Cherwell). The map tends to show that major cities grant surprisingly few self-build planning permissions. Land values and demand for housing in these areas may deter landowners from selling for single-build projects, while planners are keen to make the most of available space.

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How much do plots cost and what’s the typical construction cost of a self-build home?

We analysed single-build plot values from online sales portal PlotBrowser (February 2021), which provides pricing bands in £50,000 increments, from £50,000 to £750,000 and above.

The results have been added to a map of the English regions, below. The reason we have used regions is because there are simply not enough plots for sale to present a complete picture on a local authority basis.

To this data we have also added “sum insured” values from LABC Warranty self-build policies issued in the past 12 months, February 2020 to February 2021. This indicates the cost to rebuild the home we insure through our comprehensive self-build warranty cover. In effect, it represents the construction cost of the home.

We have included both average and median values because the average can be skewed by small numbers of high value, luxury homes. The median value is the most likely reconstruction value represented as the sum insured for LABC Warranty structural warranty cover.

Finally, the map includes for comparison average house prices for the regions, correct as of January 2021.


It's difficult to determine a true cost-per-plot picture as there are so few publicly for sale, especially when narrowing the definition to plots for single dwellings only. Of course, the cost will vary depending on location, access to services, difficulty of site (steep slopes or vegetation) and - most of all - whether planning permission already exists.

Perhaps what is more striking here is the cost of construction. While the average figures are likely being skewed by "high-end" bespoke builds, the median numbers are remarkably consistent. They show that - whether you're building in Liverpool or London - self-builders can expect to spend £275,000 on building their new home. The Government's argument that some applicants are looking to self-build as a more "affordable" home ownership option may only apply in areas of higher house prices. Cheaper builds will of course be possible, but what these numbers appear to show is that many self-builders likely want well-specified homes.

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Notes on the data: is this a complete self-build picture?

Of course, this is not a complete picture of self-build homes in England. It ignores potentially hundreds of projects where applicants neither apply for the authority’s Right to Build register, nor instances where planning permission is granted but not recorded within these statistics.

One of the difficulties in recording self-build projects is in agreeing with the definition of the term. The Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 (as amended by the Housing and Planning Act 2016) provides a legal definition but does not distinguish between self-build and custom housebuilding. Instead, it states that both are “where an individual, an association of individuals, or persons working with or for individuals or associations of individuals, build or complete houses to be occupied as homes by those individuals.”

More simply, Self Build magazine describes self-building as the act of commissioning a bespoke home that's “tailored to your design requirements and suits your lifestyle, as well as your budget.”

Statistical returns provided by local authorities to Government do not indicate where a new dwelling might indicate a self-build project. Self-build champions NaCSBA use private data and primary research to compile reports, yet even they admit it is a close indication rather than an exact picture.

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Where to self-build in England? A summary

There is growing interest in self-build. As one of the UK's leading providers of self-build structural warranties, LABC Warranty has seen the numbers of self-build projects grow year on year. Despite the challenges of finding suitable plots, more people are seeking greater control over the type, size and specification of their home.

As a prospective self-builder reading this, our report would indicate the following:

  • Put your name down on a Right to Build register. Local authorities are providing plots for registrants, though rates vary widely. If you can, be flexible about your desired location and register with more than one local authority
  • Don't rely on registration as your sole method for finding a building plot. As with the rest of the housing market, demand outstrips supply
  • Don't rely on local authorities to tell you about available opportunities, as not all do. Keep making your own enquiries
  • Be honest with yourself about your dream, self-build home and how much you can afford. The most likely construction cost, excluding the cost of land, is around the £270,000 mark. Of course, greater compromise on luxuries will result in a less costly build, while more "nice-to-haves" will keep it climbing

Building your own home can be daunting but remember, you're not tackling your project alone. As well as employing an architect, planning consultant, builder or trades, organisations such as Building Control and warranty providers are there to help you build a safe, secure home.

Good luck with your self-build project.