Our prospects were bleak, but while standing in the tiny house looking at the dismal surroundings I had a change of heart and a spurt of determination. Peter had encouraged me to look at building our own house, and I’d talked to a few friends and looked at a few auction sites but had never really taken it seriously as a realistic option. But I decided to think again.
We lived in London, so where would we find the land? How could we afford to build?Most of our friends had said it was impossible. The obstacles and efforts had simply seemed too enormous. But now I was determined to give it a good try and at least if we did end up in the tiny house on the estate we would know that we had tried everything.
I wrote to an old friend who was a small builder/developer and asked for his advice. On the first day of the New Year he wrote back, saying, “Very exciting to be looking at building your own home. It’s not easy finding a plot to be fair, but the Government seems to be more on your side than ever.” And he sent a link to the government press release ‘Boost for aspiring self-builders’. This was an encouraging and rather exciting moment.
The government was trying to help ordinary families build homes in the boroughs they wanted to live in. Councils were required to launch Self Build Registers for people to express an interest, and the Housing and Planning Act 2016 required local authorities to ensure that they had granted ‘permission’ for enough sufficient shovel-ready plots to match the local demand on their register.
What did this mean in practice? Could the council really provide us with a plot? I somehow doubted it but I was determined to find out, so I signed our local Enfield self build register and requested an appointment with our local MP to find out just what the legislation intended.