Competition to build starter homes on a shoestring

The National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA), in collaboration with Grand Designs Live, has launched a design challenge to create a low-cost Starter Home. The competition, which is run annually, was launched during National Custom & Self Build Week and selected entries will be displayed at Grand Designs Live with winners sharing a £5,000 prize fund.

The NaCSBA challenge supports the Government’s announcement that it wants 200,000 ‘Starter Homes’ built by 2020. The Government defines a starter home as having a maximum discounted sales price of £250k outside London (£450k in London), to ensure that Starter Homes are within the financial reach of the young first-time buyer. However, the NaCBSA believes it is possible to build and sell a Starter Home for much less than this guide price through the use of low-cost ‘modular’ solutions, or by offering a home that can be completed by the homeowners themselves.

The challenge is open to everyone and judges will be looking for entrants to design an attractive, cost-effective and sustainable 65 sq m starter home that can be built for £50,000, or ideally less. The home must include a reasonable living/dining area, kitchen, bathroom, study area and one or two-bedrooms, and the design must be capable of being built to a fully finished state and ready for occupation. The home must be capable of sitting on a typical level, fully serviced building plot and the design must be capable of being customised to also suit a range of potential self-builders. Designs must recognise that people are attracted to custom and self-build because it gives them the opportunity to customise their home to suit their needs.

Entries must show at least three different layouts, and a range of internal finish options. One of these might be a ‘self finish’ option for those purchasers who want to fit their own kitchen/bathroom and take care of their own tiling and decoration. Technical detail will also be important and entrants must explain exactly how the home would be procured and built, who and what kind of builder would construct it, the materials proposed, insulation levels, heating systems and finally the method of manufacture.

The Starter Home should be designed work as a standalone and terraced property, or ‘stacked’ to deliver a block of maisonettes or flats. There is a total prize fund of £5,000, which will be distributed by the judges. In addition to identifying an overall winner, the judges reserve the right to also commend other entries.

The judges will decide how much to award to each. Entrants must present their designs (images, plans and text) on one side of an A2 portrait sheet mounted on lightweight board, and also as a PDF file. A cost report will be required. This must be no more than five sides of A4 (portrait format) provided as a hard copy (in an envelope, attached to the back of your A2 board), and also as a PDF file.

The closing date for entries is 5.00pm, Friday 16th September. For more information visit the website: