tlio at Tolpuddle

james armstrong james36armstrong at
Mon Jul 19 11:53:21 BST 2010


Contact James Armstrong    pics available by  e







“Great Enthusiasm shown at Tolpuddle for  setting up Self Build Teams   in Dorset.”


Government research into the house building industry has
discovered that self build is the largest supplier of new houses in UK
-  building more houses each year than  Taylor Wimpey or Barratts  and that self build accounted for an estimated
16,000 new houses in 2006.  In Northern
  Ireland, self build accounted for  some 22 per cent of all new houses. 

The report  recommends
that local authorities in UK
encourage self build projects to help achieve 
even greater acceptance  of self
build as in Germany
and France and Japan
where it is the commonest means of supplying new houses


A new organization has been developed to make it easier for
groups to build  houses that are
affordable and to  encourage land owners to
make land available for self builders secure in the knowledge that the land and
the houses built on it will not be used for speculation but will for ever be
used for local community purposes for   affordable houses for local people.


This new legal structure 
is called a Community Land Trust- and it also ensures that the local community
will  have an influence when eventually
the houses are re-sold .


Twelve  families in
December 2008  moved in to the new
detached houses they had built as a team in their village in north Cornwall  for prices as low as £78,000  


A film was shown of this team self build project at the  recent Community Land Trust national conference
in London  and the M.P. Mr Grant Shapps who  is now the Environment Minister  gave the key-note speech.  His recent Green Paper gives  backing to self build .


At  the Tolpuddle
Festival last weekend , attended by an estimated 20,000 people, team self  build workshops were organized by  local Dorchester man
and  experienced self builder James
Armstrong .  The workshop featured  details of successfully completed  self built houses of  different styles but all  built at accessible prices.  Men and women both local and from further
afield , including  an architect and an
electrician signed up for information about setting up self build teams  in Bridport, Dorchester,  Bournemouth , Charminster, Moreton, Weymouth,
Southampton,  London, Somerset ,Bolton, and


The workshops covered the topics - taking the first steps,
assistance available from experts, setting up a Community Land Trust, sharing
team skills ,  accessing land, getting
the co-operation of local  planners ,
designing-in sustainability , accessing sources of working finance, and
mortgages for self built houses.


“The workshops confirmed that there is great local interest
in the Team Self Build way of solving  the problems 
of long waiting lists and  out of
reach prices and  high rents. Among those
interested was a  Trade Union leader who
said that his 15,000 members would be interested in  team self build  to supply houses at affordable prices.  A Dorchester electrician said that he and his
workmates had talked about  co-operating
in a team self build project in Dorchester to meet their own housing needs and
several women saw the advantages of accessing building skills they did not


After  two hectic days
of meeting people, Mr Armstrong said , “Interest in Self build was so great
that I was answering questions all day and I 
missed the entertainment. All   I
heard of the  commemorative march was the
distant sound of the bagpipers and the brass band .  Now we are in the process of forming  at least one  local 
self build group.”  Asked by our
reporter,   “How many people were needed
to form a self build team and what skills were needed?”  , Mr Armstrong replied,

“ It doesn’t matter how small the team is, what matters is
that we  are determined. 

Where too many people  
want to be involved , those not successful in the first project get
priority for the second  phase.  When the market has failed them and local
people are committed to solving their own needs  we are off and running.  Help, organisation and skills are available.
Once someone is committed their friends get to know and they join too. 

Building a house is not rocket science. The finished house
is formed by  completing a series  of 
sub-systems which have been radically simplified over some fifty years
using widely available materials.  Working as a team you share skills and it  makes it economical to employ a project
manager (often an architect) who ensures 
that the work is of the highest standard and certifies the finished
houses to make them eligible for 
mortgages.   It is common practice
for even giant housebuilders to buy in 
the skills they don’t have from sub-contractors.   Till now Self builders typically don’t
network but do their own thing  so I was
surprised to get information about 
existing  self build  groups in Dorset  and I am keen that they  get in touch 
and we spread the team self build gospel”


 James Armstrong is
keen to  hear form people wanting to form
 a Team Self Build group in their area and
 can be contacted  at james36armstrong at   He
says “Team self build is the big new thing in affordable house supply and I am
keen to bring local people together to make it happen.”       		 	   		  
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