Self-build and custom housebuilding

Self-build or custom housebuilding is intended to help diversify the housing market and increase consumer choice.

The Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 requires us to understand what the demand is for self-build and custom housebuild housing in the borough and to have regard to that demand when exercising our strategic planning and other relevant functions. We are also required to maintain a register of individuals and community groups who are seeking to acquire land to build a home themselves in our area.

What is self-build and custom housebuilding?

  • Self-build generally means you will be actively involved in organising the design and construction of your new home.
  • Custom build generally means working with a specialist developer to help you deliver your home.

There may be some overlap between the two. For example, some custom-build developers offer the option of a serviced plot where you may design your own home as part of a larger scheme. The amount of personal involvement in the building process may also vary. Self-builders may physically build all or part of a home themselves. For custom build a developer may seek a number of self-build clients and build their homes to their specification under a contract.

What is serviced land?

Serviced land is land which has access to a public highway and connections for electricity, water and waste water.

Our policy around self-build housing

We encourage self and custom build within the borough as it helps to increase the provision of housing and can deliver better design and build standards. We will enable self-build by:

  • Seeking to bring forward land for self-build homes through our emerging new Local Plan
  • Consider opportunities for self-build on Council-owned land, as and when it becomes available for disposal or redevelopment
  • encourage developers to provide serviced land on residential development sites of more 10 homes.

We will be updating the Local Plan and we will include policies on self and custom build in that. In terms of deciding planning applications, Government guidance states that the self and custom build registers are likely to be material consideration in decisions involving proposals for self and custom housebuilding. That is particularly the case if the demand on the register is not met through the granting of planning permissions.

The self and custom build register

As of 1 April 2016, we are required to keep a register of individuals and associations who are looking for a serviced plot of land in their area for self-build and custom housebuilding.

The register provides valuable information on the demand for self-build and custom housebuilding in the local area. The information can help us make decisions on planning, land disposal and regeneration.

Please note that registration does not guarantee that suitable plots will be made available.

Joining the register

You can join the register either as:

  • an individual, which can be representative of a couple or household; or
  • an association, which must appoint a member or officer to act as the lead contact.

To join the register you must be:

  • aged 18 or older
  • a British citizen, a national of a EEA (European Economic Area) state other than the United Kingdom, or a national of Switzerland and
  • seeking (either alone or with others) to acquire a serviced plot of land in the relevant authority's area to build a house to occupy as that individual's sole or main residence.

Apply to join the Dacorum self-build register

If you are interested in self-build or custom housebuilding your own home and wish to be included on the register, please fill out the application form (see below) and return it to us. You may register either as an individual, an association or group. We do need all the information requested to check your eligibility for inclusion on the register. We may refuse an application for entry in the register due to lack of information.

Following receipt of the application we will assess the information provided and confirm in writing if the applicant is, or is not, eligible for entry in the register.

Registration does not guarantee that a suitable plot will be identified or become available

Application form and guidance

The self-build and custom housebuilding register application form should be completed and preferably emailed to: Alternatively, it can be returned by post to Strategic Planning and Regeneration, Dacorum Borough Council, The Forum, Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP1 1DN.

How will we use the information provided?

By registering your details you are agreeing that we can use the data you provide to understand the demand for self-build and custom build housing in Dacorum. The register itself is not a public document, but the Government encourages councils to publish headline data from it as part of the Authority Monitoring Report (AMR).

Search for a suitable self-build or custom housebuilding plot

There are a number of ways to find a self or custom housebuilding plot. You can look at:

  • Local and online estate agents. Some plots of land are often advertised as suitable for self-build
  • Specialist online self-build plot finders
  • Specialist self and custom build developers
  • Neighbourhood plans for the parish areas you are interested in to see if they have any sites allocated for self and custom build or give general support to it in their policies.
  • Contacting Community Land Trusts and community-led housing projects about the possibility of a group self-build.

Our Property Services do not have any self-build plots currently for sale. In the rare event, single self-build plots become available, we will advertise them on the open market to meet our obligation to achieve best value.

Financing a self-build project

We not provide subsidised or free land or grants towards self-building. However, the Government wants more people to be able to build their own home and announced in April 2021 the Help to Build scheme that will ensure that self and custom housebuilding can become a realistic option to get onto the housing ladder through lower deposit mortgages. It is understood that applications for these mortgages will open in late summer 2022.

You may also consider getting involved in groups such as a community land trust or a local community-led housing scheme.

Getting planning permission

You will need to obtain planning permission before you build your new home. You can apply for an informal pre-application assessment before you submit your planning application. There is a fee for this service.

The Planning Portal website has more information about preparing and submitting a planning application. You will most likely also need to obtain building regulations approval.

Community infrastructure Levy (CIL)

CIL is a tool for local councils to help raise funds from developers to deliver infrastructure such as new schools, open space or public transport.

Self-builders can claim for exemption or relief from CIL where the relevant criteria is met and the correct process is followed.

Claims for a self-build exemption (relating to a whole house) should be submitted using Form 7: Self Build Exemption Claim Form Part 1 before any work starts on site.

A decision on relief must be granted and a commencement notice (Form 6) and assumption of liability (Form 2) submitted to the CIL team at least one day before commencement to avoid surcharges.

Form 7: Self Build Exemption Claim Form Part 2 must be submitted within six months of completing the self-build residential building, together with the evidence as detailed in the form. Failure to submit this form will result in relief being revoked and the liable person will be required to pay the full amount of CIL. We strongly recommend that prior to starting a self build you familiarise yourself with the evidence that will be required to avoid complications and additional charges at a later date.

Where an exemption or relief has been obtained for self-build housing it is important to note that a commencement notice must be submitted prior to the development starting. If you fail to do this, we will impose a surcharge equal to 20 per cent of the notional chargeable amount, capped at £2,500.

Self build exemption has a three-year clawback period from the date stated on the completion certificate and any disqualifying event within this period will result in the full liability being payable.

More information is available on our CIL page.

Consented sites and available plots

Further information will be added when available.

Tell us about sites suitable for self-build or custom housebuilding

Please let us know (using the contact details at the bottom of the page) if you have a site with planning permission that is available for self and / or custom build and we will notify people on the register about it. 

More about self-build and custom housebuilding

You can find more information and advice on self/custom build homes at the following websites:

Contact us

  • Email:
  • Telephone: 01442 228000
  • Post: Strategic Planning and Regeneration, Dacorum Borough Council, The Forum, Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP1 1DN

Page Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 July 2023 at 03:04 PM