The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government speaks at the Grand Designs Live event at the ExCel centre.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Rt Hon Sir Eric Pickles

One of British architecture’s greats, Lord Foster, responsible for London’s ‘Gherkin’ said: ‘as an architect you design for the present, with an awareness of the past, for a future which is essentially unknown.’

It’s easy to make simple things sounds profound when you’re that well known. While the future is ‘essentially unknown’, there is one thing which is quite clear to me.

Grand Designs, or more accurately your Grand Designs, are the landscapes of our future. The most instinctive feeling is to provide for our family. Home ownership is held up as the ultimate aspiration, but just imagine stepping over the doorstep of a home you’ve designed yourself.

There are over 6 million of us with a dream of building our own home. That’s nearly 10% of the country who could use a DIY manual. We want to make building your own home as easy as possible.

Self-build offers Grand Design style at affordable prices. Custom and self-build needs to play a bigger part in the building mix, as part of our push to get Britain building.

Myth busting

However, there is still a lot of myth-busting to be done. Far from being a preserve of the wealthy, self-build is an affordable and accessible venture.

Last year’s shortlisted ‘self build on a shoestring’ entries proved that £50,000 could build you a family home. Even better still, the winner was a Passivhaus, an energy efficient design which saves the average 3 bedroom household £890 per year to heat and light their home.

There is the assumption that because self-build is not common in this country, it must be costly. The truth is quite the opposite. In Austria, 80% of houses are self-builds, and in Berlin, a thriving and bustling city, 1 in 10 are self-builds.

What is seen as a niche product here is standard practice on the continent. I want the UK to catch up, and in doing so, we’ll be creating more jobs for small British building firms, architects and labourers.

Our support for self-build

Our £150 million budget boost to self-builders will turn your vision into bricks and mortar. Whilst 10,000 self-builds in 2013 is a good start it doesn’t reflect the millions who are chasing the self-build dream.

The Right to Build scheme will provide the solid foundation for grand design dreams, unlocking council and other land as a right, rather than a request, to help self-builders secure their desired plot.

Self-builders are also exempt from the community infrastructure levy, saving them on average £15,000 for a 4 bed property.

That’s £15,000 to put towards a sparkling new kitchen and bathroom.

We are also looking at ways we can extend our hugely successful equity loan scheme to self-builders, so you won’t just have a Right to Build, but you’ll have Help to Buy, too.

Today, you’ll witness the best work going on in the UK. I hope Grand Designs Live helps you to realise that self-build isn’t just the stuff of great TV shows, but a possibility for hardworking people of all budgets.

The days of Norman Foster are not behind us, the best is yet to come.

National Custom and Self-Build Week will answer all of the questions you have. It’s your dream, it should be your execution. I hope you’ll be going away with a blueprint in mind and the confidence to get on and start building your Grand Design.

Published 16 May 2014