Interested in creating your very own ideal home?

Sheffield City Council is the only authority in the region to have been awarded “vanguard” status for the Right to Build Government pilot scheme – which aims to make it easier for people who would like to build their own houses to get their projects off the ground.

And further details of just how the scheme can help would-be custom builders are now being revealed.

The concept of custom build covers a wide range of building projects, from a single family wishing to build their own home (self-build) to a group of people who would like to buy some land and build a number of houses using an architect and builder.

It also includes cohousing developments, where a group of people choose to live in a development where each has their own house, but there is also a communal house with shared facilities and a community ethos at its heart.

Councillor Harry Harpham, deputy leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “Sheffield is a city where creativity and independence thrive, so it is only fitting that our Right to Build bid has been successful and we have been named as one of the Government’s 11 vanguard councils.

“I hope that this scheme will empower people to custom build the homes that they want, by getting the help, advice and contacts that they need.

“I also hope that, by driving the scheme forward, we can establish a real and viable alternative to the usual types of housing delivery available in the city, as custom build homes are often cheaper, greener, more affordable and more innovatively designed than standard market housing.”

As one of only 11 vanguard authorities in the country, Sheffield City Council is doing a range of things to make custom build housing in the city a possibility for more people.

These include a range of measures to help prospective custom builders, including providing information on the custom build process; opening a register for people looking for land; identifying council-owned sites that are suitable for custom build and making them available for purchase, and working with partners to promote and enable custom-build housing.

Partners already involved with the scheme include the University of Sheffield, Build Store, the Sheffield Housing Company and the Sheffield Cohousing Network.

Coun Harpham added: “Many people are familiar with unusual Grand Designs-style houses, but many custom build houses look just like any other newly built house.

“The advantage is that the people and families who are going to live in the houses have been able to customise the space to suit their own needs.

“This can be done in a number of ways, from contracting an architect to design your dream home to taking an existing house design and modifying it by adding extra bedrooms, increasing the size of the living room or increasing the window size.

“Custom build gives communities a real chance to influence the homes in which they live, and this scheme will make it a more attractive and realistic option for far more people.”

An information event for people to learn more about the Right to Build scheme is set to be held on Saturday 22 November from 12noon to 4pm, in the Town Hall reception rooms.

The aim of the event is to outline the council’s approach and give potential builders a chance to find out about how custom build works.

It will consist of formal talks, followed by more in-depth seminars and a ‘marketplace’ where people can meet local groups along with developers, architects and suppliers of custom build products. There may also be a list available of Sheffield City Council-owned sites.

To find out more about custom build and to register an interest with Sheffield City Council, email:


• The other “vanguard” authorities are Cherwell District Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Teignbridge District Council, Shropshire County Council, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, West Lindsey District Council, Pendle District Council, South Norfolk District Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the Exmoor and Dartmoor National Park Authorities.

• The Government definition of Custom Build is: ‘homes built or commissioned by individuals or groups of individuals for their own use, either by building their home on their own or by working with builders’ (Government policy ‘Increasing the Number of Available Homes’, 08.01.2014).

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