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Can you design a quality home on a shoestring budget?

Now in its fifth year, the National Custom and Self Build Association’s innovative competition, Self Build on a Shoestring, is back searching for unique designs to combat housing issues in the UK. In 2017 the competition is geared towards housing for the elderly, and the winner will receive £5,000 from Grand Designs Live.

In mainland Europe scores of modestly priced retirement communities have been built by local people who have formed a group, commissioned an architect to design what they want and then hired a contractor to construct the homes for them. The properties are tailored to each resident’s requirements and the communities encourage interaction, healthier lifestyles and the mutual support of each other, thereby reducing the need for social care.

NaCSBA thinks it’s about time we saw more projects like this happening in the UK. That’s why the annual Self Build on a Shoestring competition – launched in association with Grand Designs Live – challenges designers to devise an innovative low cost ‘granny annexe’. The designers also have to show how 30 of the homes could be grouped together to create an innovative retirement community.

The individual homes must be constructed for less than £40,000, or the whole community of 30 homes –which must also include a range of shared/community facilities and a maximum budget of £1.5m.

Three of the UK’s top TV presenters have agreed to be Judges for this year’s ‘Shoestring’ competition including George Clarke, Piers Taylor and Charlie Luxton. Other judges include design and self build experts and the consultant who helped set up the first project like this in the UK (the ‘New Ground’ scheme in North London, which opened this year and provides 22 new homes for single elderly women).

The annual ' Shoestring’ design ideas competition has been running since 2013 and several of the top entries from previous years are now being built (or are expected to start on site soon).

NaCSBA Chair Michael Holmes said: “We want to capitalise on the growing interest in new forms of housing for the elderly -especially homes that are simple and cost effective to build, and where the residents have a real say in the design, layout and range of facilities. Developments like this help older peopletoremain more active, they avoid loneliness and, in the end, they reduce the need for costly social care.”

“We also think there is a growing market for a cost effective standalone ‘granny annexe’, that can be tailored to suit each resident’s needs, ordered online, craned into someone’s garden and linked to an existing house.”

Anyone can enter the competition –architects, designers, modular construction specialists, timber framing experts, custom build developers, innovation or technical gurus, or members of the public. Entrants need to provide good technical information (and robust costs data) together with high quality visual material, so non-professionals are encouraged to team up with others to ensure they match the high standards.

A full Brief for the competition can be downloaded from NaSBA's website, and the deadline for submissions is 21 September 2016.

The winner will be announced at the Grand Designs Live Exhibition at the NEC in October, where there will also be a display of the top finalists.

The finalists and winners from the last four ‘Shoestring’ competitions can all be viewed on NaCSBA’s website - http://www.nacsba.org.uk/selfbuildonashoestring

For media enquiries or further information on the competition contact Ted Stevens on 07860 336087
For further information on NaCSBA contact Anna-Marie DeSouza on 07952 656 129 or info@nacsba.org.uk

A good example of a recent self-commissioned retirement community is ‘New Ground’, which was organisedby the Older Womens Cohousing group. This opened earlier in 2017, for more information visit: www.owch.org.uk

The Custom and Self Build Toolkit hasa number of good examples too, including parts of the Aspern Seestadt project in Vienna, two sections of the Kleine Bergstrasse project in Hamburg andelements of the Spreedeld scheme in Berlin. Some of these European examples focus purely on groups of elderly people; others are multi-generational:


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