We can provide a range of support to anyone purchasing land from us for a custom build project.


General planning design guidance can be found in the Design Guide below.

Download guidance on how to apply for planning permission for your custom or self-build project from this page.

Site investigations

On some of our sites, we have carried out site investigations, so people building on them can have more certainty about the costs that would be involved in development.

Empty residential properties

If you are aware of an empty residential property that you might be interested in purchasing, we may be able to help you.

If you can provide us with the full address of the property, we will check whether it is registered with us as empty, and if so we might be able to make contact with the owner on your behalf.  The Houses Into Homes team also offers a Matching Service to put buyers and sellers of empty properties in contact with each other.

Our approach to custom build homes

Government support

The Government has pledged to double the number of self and custom built homes constructed in England by 2020.

The new Self build and Custom House building Act 2015 gained royal assent in March 2015.

When implemented it will ask Councils to establish and maintain a Register of people who want to build their own homes, and have regard to this when carrying out their various functions.

New legislation linked to the Right to Build is also expected as part of this autumn’s Housing Bill. This is likely to require us to support custom and self builders by identifying land for their projects.

 Our support

We are one of only 11 local authorities given vanguard status as part of the Government’s ‘Right to Build’ scheme. This required us to:

  • open and promote a register for people who wish to purchase a plot of land to build their own home on.

  • make a number of sites available for purchase at market value.

  • provide information to the Government about the success of our approach.

As a Vanguard Council, we want to make it easier for you to build your own home in Sheffield. To achieve this, we are doing the following:

  • assessing demand for custom build in the city by encouraging people to sign up to our custom build register

  • directing people to suitable guidance and information to support people in making their dream of building their own home a reality

  • identifying sites we own which are suitable for custom build housing and promoting these to people on the register and to developers.

  • testing different models for delivering custom build housing to find which ones are most suitable for Sheffield (e.g. working with the Sheffield Cohousing Network, the University of Sheffield and builders and developers)

  • working with partners to help deliver custom build projects.

Overview of custom build housing

Custom build housing, including self-build, is housing designed and built by individuals or groups for their own use. This can involve employing a developer or builder to do this, or building it yourself.

It could be just one person building one home, or a developer building lots of new customised homes, or adapting existing homes. 

Whichever custom build route you choose, the result will be a home that works for you, with lots of benefits. 

A custom built home may be built on a site which has been divided into individual serviced plots by an enabling developer.

You choose your location and plot, the design of your home and your level of involvement - then you create a home which suits your lifestyle including how it looks from the outside and the layout and finish inside. 

You can choose where to spend and where to save, e.g. a high level of insulation may be more important to you than an expensive kitchen.

Our definition of a new custom build home

Where an individual, couple or group purchases some land and commissions the construction of a new home or homes from a builder, contractor or package company or, physically builds a house themselves/ works with sub-contractors to do so.

This includes serviced plots and ‘shell’ homes (where the purchaser carries out the fit out of a home). The occupant of the home must have a choice and influence in the design of the house and intend to occupy the property for at least 3 years.

As a minimum, the criteria below must be met and the property purchaser must have a choice of:

  • which plot their property sits on;
  • the external design of the house (this can involve a choice of 2 or more pre-existing designs);
  • at least 3 configurations of the internal property layout;
  • kitchen and bathroom fit-out.

Benefits of a custom build project

Custom build housing has many positive aspects, and it will play an important role in Sheffield.  Here are just some of the benefits.


There is strong demand for more custom build housing. A recent poll found that 27% of people in Britain aspire to build their own home. 

Other research shows that 1 in 7 Britons (14%) expect to take action, research or plan how to build their own home within the next 12 months. 

Our recent Market Assessment of over 2,400 Sheffield Households found that 43% of respondents were interested in building their own home.


Custom builders get greater choice and control over the home in which they live.

Designing an entire property, or customising an existing design (moving internal walls and choosing interiors) to make living spaces suited to their lifestyle.


Including energy efficiency measures such as increased insulation will give cost savings and environmental benefits.


People who build their own homes can save money in various ways depending on which build route they chose - either commissioning a builder or doing some of the work themselves.

According to industry, information savings range between between 20%-30% on an equivalent home on the open market. 

As payments are usually staged during the build, rather than all at the end, there are less builder’s / developers costs as they are taking on less risk. 

As land and property are purchased separately, there is only Stamp Duty Land Tax on the cost of the land, not the completed house. 

Also, you can reclaim VAT on the cost of all labour and materials used to self-build your new home.

If you decide to be involved in the building of your property, you can save money by ‘sweat equity’, where by carrying out build tasks your self, less money is spent on labour.

Self-builders do not have to pay the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charge.


Custom build homes are often built using modern construction methods and are not usually part of a phased development, so are built quicker.


Custom builders usually choose to use local architects, builders and suppliers, meaning that money spent on the build will stay within the local economy and build local businesses.


Custom build is suitable for a range of different people - from first time buyers to families who need more living space or older people looking to downsize.

Ways to custom build

Everyone who chooses to custom build their home will have different reasons. 

There are also different ways to custom build which are listed below.  When deciding which is most suitable for you, you need to consider:

  • type of custom build home you want
  • level of involvement you have (self-building or working with a builder / developer)
  • how much you want to spend

DIY custom build

The customer buys a plot and builds their own home to their own specification.

Self finish custom build

The customer buys a serviced plot from an enabler who owns a number of plots on a site, works with the enabler to create a home to their specification which is then built to be wind and watertight. 

The customer takes over the remaining elements themselves or employs subcontractors.

Full turn key custom build

The customer buys a serviced plot from an enabler who owns a number of plots on a site.  They work with the enabler to design their home to their specification and individual lifestyle. 

The house is completed by the enabling developer to a fixed budget and timescale.

Independent community custom build

Where a group of individuals join forces to purchase a large site which is split into individual plots.  They are involved in the planning, design and building of their own home. 

By working as part of a group costs are minimised both in terms of labour and materials.

Supported community custom build

As above a group of individuals come together to share their skills, boost their knowledge of building and create a number of houses collectively. 

Some groups form themselves and others are formed by housing associations or other agencies.

Cohousing custom build

Cohousing communities are intentional communities created and run by their residents. 

Each household has a self-contained, personal and private home, but residents come together to manage their community, share activities, eat together.

Affordable custom build

Those on a low income can participate in the planning, design and building of their own homes through custom build.  They can learn a range of new skills and save money through sweat equity.

Custom Build Sheffield Project

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