Survey shows UK enthusiasm for self-build has not been dimmed by cost-of-living crisis

By Nick Batten on 11 November, 2022

A survey by the National Self Build and Renovation Centre has found that people’s enthusiasm for building their own home in the UK has not been affected by the cost-of-living crisis.

The National Self-Build & Renovation Centre (NSBRC), which is based in Swindon, questioned 644 people looking to build their own home or renovate an existing property, and asked about factors as wide-ranging as budget, priorities and motivations of those taking on these kinds of projects, as well as sustainable building practices.

While the results show that more than half of those surveyed say the economic downturn has had some effect on their plans, it hasn’t resulted in people changing their minds about their projects, with just two per cent saying they’ve shelved their intended build. 

Adjustments such as being more ‘hands-on’ to save on labour costs were cited by almost half (47 per cent) of the people surveyed; and planning more energy-saving measures to lower costs in the longer term was also a key finding – with more than a third of respondents stating this as a direct response to the current economic conditions. 

Harvey Fremlin, Managing Director of the NSBRC, said that these findings are borne out by what he and his team see on a daily basis with the people who come through their doors. 

He explained, “Sustainability and thinking about the energy use of the future is a key priority for our customers. The recent news of possible fuel rationing this winter shows more than ever how important it is to invest in sustainable, energy-efficient measures, and it’s obvious to us from the conversations we have that people are absolutely clear on not compromising on this issue. It’s really important to them.”

While it’s tempting to think of self-build projects as ambitious and flamboyant, Harvey insisted that the kinds of builds and renovations seen on TV programmes such as Grand Designs are not what the majority of people are looking to achieve. 

“Most self-builders actually have a relatively modest budget and an overall household income of less than £50k a year,” Harvey continued. 

“As our survey shows, they just want a well-built, sustainable family home with their own particular needs in mind.”

The NSBRC was established in 2007 and has become a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to build their own home, make significant renovations to their existing property, or retrofit sustainability options. 

“We’re particularly proud of the workshops and training we offer both on site and online,” said Harvey. “It’s so important that, as well as providing people with the material goods they need to build their own home, we help them become as knowledgeable as they can about the projects they’re undertaking. 

“Our survey found almost 70 per cent of people embarking on this kind of project are at least 55 years old and 35 per cent of them are retired. For many, this is their first self-build project and their intention is to build a home that will carry them through the rest of their lives, so it’s vital they are as well-informed as possible, especially in light of the evidence that more and more people want to be hands-on in order to reduce overall cost.”

Workshops at the centre cover topics such as project management, building systems and internal finishes.

Harvey added, “We’re really excited about these free workshops and we’ve revised the sustainable home workshop on 12th November to reflect the current energy crisis. With costs spiraling and environmental impact ranking high on people’s priorities, it’s a chance to hear about government incentives, green investment opportunities around different technologies, and issues such as insulation and ventilation considerations.” 

The event will now be split into two separate theatres to cater specifically for those renovating an existing property and people taking on a new build. 

More information about the survey’s results can be found here

The NSBRC is located near junction 16 of the M4 in Wiltshire.

Pictured above: Harvey Fremlin, MD of the National Self Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon