‘Sweat-equity’ is a powerful way to increase both a personal and financial investment in an affordable home and also bring down its purchase price for the self-builder. This is real equity that is calculated in monetary terms towards a mortgage or shared ownership deposit. The value of a home is retained for resale, by having professional project management and sign-off.
But more than reducing costs, the beneficial force of volunteer labour and time is reciprocal and helps other build-members on the scheme. That can-do bond between scheme residents is priceless and life-changing.
Self-build has been around for decades as one-offs, but lately it’s become a delivery method of Community-Led Housing by virtue of its cost savings along with grant, especially at scale.
As not everyone is able to manually help in the construction of their own home from the ground up, another category under the Self-Build umbrella is Self-Finish. Here a CLH group hires out the build of a scheme to a contractor to complete to the ‘water-tight’ stage. All homes are therefore protected from the elements and the plot infrastructure is laid and managed by other professionals.
Now, members of a CLT/Coop/Co-Housing group can work inside their homes to finish insulation, electrics, plumbing, fittings often again with community and professional volunteer assistance. This model was used by Broadhempston CLT and partners, Teignbridge DC, Wessex Community Assets, Resonance, Homes England, and the CLT Network. They achieved 6 eco-homes for locals.
Often a Housing Association or Council has to upgrade the condition of their stock. They also take on discounted purchases of accommodation in neglected neighbourhoods. Repurposing, another name for a similar idea, applies to derelict commercial buildings on brownfield sites with new planning permission for conversion to residential units. Habitat for Humanity is a global organisation that got its start in the US, housing the housing-insecure through volunteer efforts. The idea took off and HfHGB is working to replicate the model within the current planning climate: https://www.habitatforhumanity.org.uk/our-work-in-gb/
>> Shortcut to the model: https://www.habitatforhumanity.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/draft18-scaled.jpg
Equally valuable are models of pre-fab self-help/self-build as exemplified in the Social Bite/Tiny Homes Scotland or the Cambridgeshire scheme for homeless street sleepers. These projects aimed specifically to work with at-risk groups. In Edinburgh, the charity was able to both rehouse and retrain 11 homeless people on housing registers. Read more on these successful projects:
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