Article by Simon Middleton – June 2011
Self-Build lending is still perceived to be problematic even though it’s one of the largest home building sectors in the UK, ultimately delivering prime market property portfolios. Issues of planning problems both prior to and during the build project, restrictive covenants, in addition to the usual income and accident related issues and the very nature of the project being undertaken continue to make lenders wary. But that’s not surprising when You consider the rather bespoke requirements of self-build lending are normally shoe horned into the existing home purchase structured product arrangement which relies on the valuation process and doesn’t really provide a thorough risk management approach.
Traditionally self-build customers are released funds based on a series of stage payment mortgages which are valued at stages by the lenders valuation surveyor. Whilst a valuer has good understanding of the construction process and is absolutely key to assessing anticipated final value, they may not have a full understanding of MMC and Ecobuild systems, or how to assess the property for compliance relative to planning permission and building regulations. It is very difficult for a valuation surveyor to provide the stage valuation the Lenders are relying on especially as the stage reached may not be relevant to the actual expenditure made. More importantly it doesn’t control what the self-builder is spending funds on.
A general lack of understanding by the self-builder and the lender of the requirements at this level means that contracts between the self-builder and their contractors or tradesmen are not always used, which increases the risk of the build going over budget and they don’t always utilise Site Insurance or a 10 Year Structural Warranty, all of which can easily be stipulated. For example:- Self–Build Zone have a contract service which caters for the creation of written legal contracts for the whole project and is less than £50.
To provide that increased degree of comfort to lenders then maybe they should be taking a more bespoke approach to lending into the sector as it seems to me that there are already the tools in place with which to adequately risk manage the construction process, it’s just a matter of implementing a standard framework and sorting out the communication between the various tools.