Finding the perfect family home – or building it yourself

Finding the perfect family home is a Guest Post by Ipswich Building Society

If you’re looking for your next family home you’re probably already in the know about the state of the UK housing market. Firstly, there’s just not enough suitable housing and secondly, prices are increasing. (The Office for National Statistics recently reported that a detached property in the UK costs £370,000, increasing by 4.7% in the last 12 months.)


the perfect family home


Finding the perfect family home

If you’re struggling to find something suitable have you considered building your own home? It’s one way of getting a property suited to the needs of you and your family, and you can decide what features you want to include. You might be thinking this sounds impossible and expensive, but there are alternative options to traditional brick and block techniques. In fact, using  Modern Methods of Construction, known as MMC, could make it cheaper and quicker to complete your very own self-build project.


What is MMC?

MMC is a new way to ‘self-build’ and, quite simply, is where housing is produced in large quantities in factories located offsite. It is then transported to the customer to be assembled and finished on site. Like many things which are mass produced, you could find MMC to be both quicker and cheaper than traditional building techniques.

If this sounds familiar to the prefab housing which was used to rebuild the country after WWII, you’re right. MMC is prefabrication albeit in a more advanced state than 70 years ago. Some of the common MMC schemes are:

  • Closed-Panel Systems: entire walls which come complete with cladding, doors, windows and ducting for wires/pipes. They are transported to the site and lifted into place using a crane.
  • Open-Panel Systems: external cladding and joinery are fitted on site, without the need for a crane. This is ideal for projects with restricted access.
  • Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs): this idea came from America in 2000, and is where the walls and roof are made from solid slabs of insulation providing excellent energy efficiency.
  • Oak Framing: often constructed off-site, oak frames are quickly erected and encapsulated with highly insulated panels.

The UK government has recognised MMC as a way to address the UK’s housing crisis, with The Autumn Budget 2017 stating “the government will use its purchasing power to drive adoption of modern methods of construction, such as offsite manufacturing”. In addition, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Housing Corporation said it is “… a process to produce more, better quality homes in less time.”


Will MMC last as long as traditional building techniques?

You might be wondering how durable these MMC schemes are, and it is a good question to ask. There are many providers of MMC schemes and they should be able to provide you with information about the resilience of their build. In addition to this, there are other measures, such as the Build Offsite Property Assurance Scheme (BOPAS). By gaining BOPAS accreditation this means the scheme has been through a durability and maintenance assessment, guaranteeing that properties will be sufficiently durable and readily saleable for a minimum of sixty years.


Let’s talk about the money

If you’re seriously thinking about building your own home you might need to consider a specialist self-build mortgage. These differ from standard, residential, mortgages which are used for traditional property purchases.

With a self-build mortgage, the lender releases funds on the ‘yet to be built’, and may offer features such as lending on the land (so you can keep your savings back for the build) and releasing funds in stages as the build progresses.  This means you don’t have to borrow the whole amount from the outset and therefore pay interest on it all from day one.

You should also know that a self-build mortgage is not limited to brand new builds – you can also utilise these if you are converting an existing structure, or will be carrying out a knockdown and rebuild project.

Many self-build lenders will consider homes built using MMC schemes, such as the mortgages on offer from Ipswich Building Society. According to the Building Societies Association, “building societies are generally receptive when it comes to accepting MMC as suitable security for mortgage purposes, particularly those that lend in the self-build market as they are more experienced in assessing the potential risks of non-standard construction types.”

Before you submit a mortgage application you will need to prepare information about your project. Whilst requirements will differ between lenders, you should answer the following questions:

  • Have you found a suitable plot of land?
  • Have you obtained planning permission?
  • Do you have detailed plans of the property?
  • Do you have a realistic projection of costs?
  • Have you saved or put aside a deposit, and know how much you need to borrow?

Finally, if you are unsure what mortgage may be best you should consider seeking advice from a specialist mortgage broker.





1 Comment

  1. September 7, 2018 / 11:57

    My husband and I are currently planning on building our first home ever after renting for a few years. MMC looks like an interesting construction idea. I hope this is available in our country.

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