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Self Build on a Shoestring

A unique Ideas Competition, open to all, where you have to design a development of 20 homes on a typical urban site that can be built for less than £75.000 each.

We are looking for cost-effective, green and beautiful designs. Selected entries will be displayed at Grand Designs Live and the winners will share a £5000 prize fund!

The Challenge

Some people think that building a home for yourself is only for the wealthy. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Self build can be particularly cost effective when a number of households collaborate to build individual homes on a single site. As well as allowing common overheads to be shared, collaborative self build can also help foster strong neighbourly relations.

Self Build in the City is a unique competition to design an innovative complex of ‘self build friendly’ homes on a typical urban site. The competition is being run to prove that it is possible to build low cost homes in the City, and that they can also be a very attractive and sustainable too.

Prize Fund

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.


We are looking for people to design a complex of 20 very low cost, simple-to-construct, self build homes for a typical urban site. The plot we have in mind covers 2,000 sq m and is 50m wide, by 40m deep.

You can assume that it already has outline planning permission for residential development and it sits in a typical urban street, with 3 storey terraced residential buildings on either side. There are several 4 storey blocks of flats nearby too.
The area is well connected with good public transport links. So there are bus stops within 100m, a main railway station is about a mile away, and a cycleway runs through the nearby park. The rear of the site faces south and backs onto the park, but there is no direct access from the site to the park.
We want to see a minimum of 20 new homes on the site in a range of sizes suitable for households with one to five people. You should assume that the planning authority has indicated that six car parking spaces should be provided on the site; one for a dedicated car club.
We are keen to explore how a project like this could be built as a collaborative project (not a series of individuals building their own homes on their own).

The competition is open to anyone (lay person or professional).

Above all we are looking for innovative ideas and new concepts.


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