Building your own home, with a little help from your friends

Wild Goose Community in Bristol is a community of self build homes. I visited Ecomotive’s open day to see the unusual and heartwarming community and to hear the story of how it came about.

The forty dwellings were built by their owners as a group using a Community Land Trust model which has aspects of shared ownership. Self build homes are classified as ‘custom build’. Not all planning authorities are familiar or comfortable with custom build but there are many organisations who can offer you support and help if you decide you would like to build your own home. A good first step would be to check out the National Self Build Association.

The community that surrounds the Wild Goose Space became aware that a developer entered a planning permission for a standard housing development and decided to mobilise to object. Not only were they able to get the developers planning permission refused, but they submitted their own proposal for a mixed development with custom build and community focused buildings, to welcome new people into the area. The majority of people who then got involved were first time buyers, some designed their own homes, some used architects and they all consented to each other’s designs which facilitated getting planning approval. Large tasks like pouring concrete were done together whilst other aspects of building were shared with friends and family. The site was covered in an existing concrete pad and rather than dig this up they built foundations and laid services on top. As you might expect, a quality of life survey for the area found that residents had more local friends, less fear of crime and more general joy in their area and community.

When listing what it takes to make a project like this happen the factors were: ownership, range of skills and experiences, range of funding methods, teamwork, mix of voluntary and paid work, lots of meetings, good legal support, self belief and a lot of persistence.

Planning law is in the process of changing so many people will shortly find that building their own home has become easier. If you are interested in finding land to build upon and financing, below are some more resources to help you.

A house is made of bricks and stone, but only love can make a home.



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