The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust helped to deliver five self-build houses in Glenachulish.

  • Background

    • The Glenachulish self-build development was driven by the local community council. They reached out to The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust to help them provide a solution to their housing needs. HSCHT identified that there was a need for affordable housing in Glenachulish and set out to find suitable sites.

      A suitable site was found in the centre of the community. HSCHT purchased the plots from Lochaber Housing Association and serviced them themselves. They obtained five plots, which were all used for self-build projects. Each plot was allocated and sold to people with a local connection to the community, as it is part of HSCHT’s strategy to help people to continue to live and work in rural communities.

      HSCHT secured planning in principle for the plots and each person then put in planning applications with their own plans and designs.

  • Delivery

    • Four out of the five plots sold required a Rural Home Ownership Grant (RHOG). RHOG was a Scottish Government initiative set up to help those in rural areas to purchase a plot and build a home on it. The scheme came to an end in 2011.

      To complete their projects, the majority hired contractors to do the work for them and therefore self procured their new home. Some of the purchasers undertook some of the work themselves, referred to as sweat equity. This is often the case if someone has a trade or skills they can put to use when building their own home, such as joinery, plumbing, painting and decorating. By utilising a sweat equity approach, you can usually reduce your build costs but this does mean putting in more work yourself.

      All the plots in Glenachulish were sold in 2008 and were completed in around 18 months. 

  • Finance

    • To support people who want to build their own home, HSCHT sells plots for a discounted price, which was the case for the plots in Glenachulish. To ensure houses are not then sold on for more than they were originally worth a Rural Housing Burden can be placed on them. A Rural Housing Burden means that if the owners of the properties want to sell them, HSCHT has a right of pre-emption. This means they have the right to buy back a property with a Rural Housing Burden using the discount agreed to resell it at an affordable price. For more information on Rural Housing Burdens, look at our Useful Documents page.

      All the plots in Glenachulish were sold with a Rural Housing Burden on them.

  • Learning Points

      • One of the self-build projects incurred extra costs due to high levels of peat on the site. It is crucial you have someone carry out land checks on your plot before building on it. Although sometimes problems can arise even after conducting site investigations into the ground conditions, as the land checked may not have any issues but another section might.Read our Finding Land guide for more information on finding a suitable plot.
      • One house was bought back from original owners and allocated to another family on a rent to buy basis, the house price was higher than original cost to build the property so the new family were not able to buy outright straight away. More on our Rent to Buy scheme here: