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Self build and custom build register

The Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 places a duty on all local councils to maintain a register of individuals and associations who are interested in acquiring serviced plots of land for self and custom housebuilding.

What is self-build and custom build?

Self-build housing is where individuals or groups of individuals directly organise the design and construction of their own homes. This covers a wide range of projects including a traditional DIY self-build, to projects where self-builders employ someone to build their homes or a group of people build their own homes together.

Custom build housing is where you work with a developer as an individual or a group to help deliver your own home. The developer may help to find a plot, manage the construction and arrange the finance for your new home. This is more of a hands-off approach, but homes can be tailored to meet individual requirements with different levels of customisation. 

Community-led housing is where people and communities play a leading role in addressing their own housing needs. It has many overlaps with group self-build and custom-build, but also considers the long-term ownership or management, and where any benefits (such as affordability) are legally protected.

Additional information

The following information is provided by way of reference and guidance only. The council does not accept any responsibility for the content of external sites, however you may find their content useful:

  • Mayor of London: making small sites available to small builders  
  • Community Led Housing London is a resource and advice hub with revenue funding available for community led housing groups
  • The Self-Build Portal  provides a wide range of information on self-build and custom housebuilding. It is produced by the National Custom and Self-Build Association (NaCSBA)
  • NaCSBA has also assembled an online toolkit to provide further information on and highlight examples of self-build and custom housebuilding from the UK and Europe. The toolkit can be found at the Right to Build toolkit
  • There is a range of information including self-build finance providers and insurers set out on the Build Store website (please note that this is a commercial website and the council is not responsible for its content)
  • The government has also prepared a Planning Practice guidance on Self-build and Custom Housebuilding
  • The construction of new build dwellings is not subject to VAT, so self-builders can reclaim their VAT within 3 months of completing the work. Further information should be sought from HMRC.

The Self-build and custom build register

An individual or association can only be added onto the Tower Hamlets self-build and custom housebuilding register if they meet the following criteria (please note that if you are applying to join the register as a group or association, ALL members must meet the eligibility criteria):

  • aged 18 or over
  • a British citizen, national of an EEA state other than the United Kingdom or a national of Switzerland
  • seeking (alone or with others) to acquire a serviced plot of land to build homes to occupy as their sole or main residence

Upon satisfying the criteria above, applicants will be divided into part 1 and part 2 of the register based on their local connection and their ability to demonstrate sufficient resource to purchase the land required to build homes.

The council has up to 28 days to confirm entry onto part 1 or part 2 of the register. If your application is not eligible we will write to you to explain the reasons within 28 days of determining the application. If the application is from an association, we will only write to the lead contact of the association as identified in the application.

The council may contact you occasionally for information to update the register and provide you with information on the availability of self-build opportunities. It is your responsibility to inform the Council of any change of circumstances, address or contact details. If for any reason we cannot contact you, your entry will be removed from the register.

If you wish to be removed from the register, please e-mail the housing regeneration team with your request. We may also contact you from time to time to check whether you want to remain on the register. If we cannot contact you using the details we hold we will remove your name from the register.

If we consider that an individual or member of any association is no longer eligible for entry on the register, we will contact you in writing within 28 days of our decision to let you know. We will provide the reasons for our decision and details of the appeals process.

By successfully completing the registration form, you are helping us to build a picture of demand for self and custom build in Tower Hamlets. Successful registration does not however guarantee that a suitable serviced plot of land will be identified or become available.

To register, visit the self-build registration page.