Three self build plots were created for local families as part of a mixed tenure development in Inverarnie.

  • Background

    • In Inverarnie, a small village in the Scottish Highlands, an opportunity arose for to provide self-build plots for sale within a wider development.

      The original need for affordable housing was identified and driven by the local community council. The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT), on behalf of the community, arranged a call for sites and identified a suitable location in Inverarnie. The preferred site was located in an ideal spot right in the centre of the village and fortunately, it was owned by a local landowner who was keen to support the local community’s ambitions to provide affordable housing. Once the site was secured by HSCHT they then worked closely with Albyn Housing Society to establish a suitable layout and the appropriate housing types following a thorough appraisal of the demand and available the project budget.

      Following further engagement with the community it was decided the site would be split into nine plots, four of which were self-build plots for sale at a discounted price.

  • Delivery

    • Albyn Housing Society took ownership of a portion of the site, developed the infrastructure and undertook the servicing for the whole site. They built five houses for social rent, one of which was for a family with special needs. The original landowner retained a separate plot for a family member and HSCHT provided the remaining four plots for onward sale at a discounted price.

      Due to the downturn in the self-build finance market, HSCHT was unable to sell the final self-build plot. At the same time they developed the Rent to Buy scheme as a reaction to the lack of mortgage availability in general. The remaining plot allocated for self-build, was of a suitable size to be divided into two. They built two properties for Rent to Buy purposes having previously sold the other three plots for self-build. One of the self-builders applied for 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.

      Two of the projects required contractors for their build and one of them was a complete self-build project undertaken and managed by a qualified joiner.


  • Finance

    • All plots were purchased at a discounted price and secured by the Rural Housing Burden (RHB). A Rural Housing Burden means that if the owners of the properties want to sell them, HSCHT, and other Rural Housing Bodies, 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.

      Two out of three self-build projects required a deferred plot payment. This is an initiative offered by HSCHT to try to make the self-build route easier and more affordable for self-builders. It allows buyers to wait until their house is complete before paying for the plot.

      All of the self-builders were able to secure self-build bridging finance from a high street lender. Over the years however, it has become increasingly difficult to secure self-build bridging finance from high street lenders. Fortunately, new funding options have been introduced to help those who are struggling to access high street finance. See our Funding Options page for the different types of self-build finance.

  • Learning Points

      • The community were a key partner in the direction of this project and influenced measures such as the requirement for street lighting. In this rural setting, the community managed to get agreement from the local authority to limit light pollution by removing the requirement for the original street lighting design which was more akin to urban developments.
      • The availability of self-build finance and mortgage finance for the completed projects is crucial to their successful delivery. As the market was struggling to provide suitable products at that time, HSCHT were able to utilise the land for alternative uses, however if the plot was owned by an individual their choices may be more limited. Therefore, the most important point is to secure suitable project finance prior to the commencement of any self-build project.