Self-Finish Homes
March 2017
By Mellis Haward

As any member of ‘Generation Rent’ will understand, when you finally scrape the funds to buy your first home, there’s a natural frustration that you are paying for someone else’s choice of kitchen cabinets, flooring, lighting etc. This is especially grating when developers try to justify an overpriced property with flashy add-ons like built-in coffee machines, and then market this as ‘affordable luxury’.

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A new breed of self-initiated developers such Naked House are addressing this paradox by stripping back their developments to only the bare essentials. The developments include only the elements that are required to secure a mortgage, such as toilet, kitchen sink etc, whilst still conforming to building regulations.

This enables a reduced construction cost and empowerment for the individual to be able to complete and personalise their home, without the frustration and cost of ripping out a developer’s choice of finishes.

But for Naked House ‘self-finish’ is really the tip of the iceberg in this financial model, with the initial challenges being securing land and ensuring resale covenants to avoid sellers selling again with all the mod-cons for a market rate profit.

Historical examples of ‘self-build’ homes, such as Walter Segal’s Walters Way take this model to an extreme, where residents have built their homes from scratch, according to an intelligent set of construction rules. Thereby creating a set of useful rules and boundaries, whilst also allowing for natural variation due to individual taste.

The government’s Housing White Paper also clearly supports those looking to undertake ‘self-build’ homes, for instance by maintaining exemption from CIL payments for ‘self-build’ or ‘custom-build’ homes.

Within Archio, we have encouraged our developer clients to accommodate ‘self-finish’ in their projects. At Bidford Cottages home owners where given a choice of floor finishes, and at the Temple Inn housing, home owners will be given finishes options in the Living and Kitchen space, to ensure the houses suit the owner’s taste and likes.