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Self-builders could buy homes at the supermarket

Housing minister Grant Shapps is planning to tackle the housing crisis with the help of Tesco, B&Q and Ikea.

He is in talks with major retailers about them offering a one-stop service for self-builders.

Would-be homeowners would buy a plot of land from a shop and select a kit design from a catalogue.

“Why shouldn’t anyone be able to walk into their local DIY store or builders’ merchant and get the information needed to start what is, after all, a do-it-yourself project on a grand scale,” said Shapps.

He has also written to banks asking them to make more finance options available to self-builders.
Shapps’ plan could deliver 20,000 new homes a year, believes Ted Stevens, chairman of the National Self-Build Association (NaSBA).

NaSBA has been working with civil servants on how to encourage more people to build their own homes. Their report is due to be launched by Shapps next week.

“He wants to make self-build so straightforward you could almost order a house at the check-out,” said Stevens.

“They wouldn’t win many architectural awards but if you are looking for an affordable home maybe Tesco could be the place to go.”

Big retailers could buy up tracts of land and build the infrastructure, then divide it into relatively cheap plots, he said.

Architects would still be needed – to design the kit homes and to adapt and customise individual homes.

“I think this will probably stimulate the market and create work for architects,” added Stevens.

“There are not many architects doing very cost-effective homes for people at the moment, but it’s a competitive world and if architects can match Tesco, great.

“But the benefit to mankind of providing cheap housing is more important than having a RIBA-registered architect designing each one.”

Source : Elizabeth Hopkirk – BDOnline

14 July 2011
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