An example of a self-build development, undertaken by The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust, can be seen in Beauly, a village just outside Inverness. HSCHT delivered ten new homes in Beauly, nine of which were self-build tenures.


  • Background

    • This development was part of a larger development that Scotia Homes was leading. 100 homes were to be built in Beauly with a minimum of 25% of the homes being affordable housing. This was due to the Section 75 agreement that was placed on the development. HSCHT specialise in affordable housing needs surveys and were therefore able to conduct one in Beauly as part of this development. The results of the survey showed there was a clear demand for self-build housing. HSCHT were able to purchase part of the development and secured planning permission for ten plots, after reapplying for planning permissions to go from eight plots to ten. This was to make the development more viable and deliver greater community benefit.

  • Delivery

    • The land in Beauly was bought from the landowner at affordable value and the plots sold had a Rural Housing Burden added to each new title. For more information on the Rural Housing Burden click here The 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 using the discount agreed to resell it at an affordable price.

      The discount is secured using an equity share of between 20-40% - sometimes called a ‘resale covenant’.

  • Finance

    • The ten plots in Beauly were split into nine self-build homes, only one with a Rural Home Ownership Grant and finally one Rent-to-Buy home. A Rural Home Ownership Grant was set up to help people who were not quite able to afford a property due to project costs. For example, if a home cost £130,000 but the buyer could only obtain £100,000 in mortgage finance then they could apply for a Rural Home Ownership Grant. If accepted, the Scottish Government paid the remaining finance required for the house. The Rent-to-Buy scheme allows the buyer to rent their property for a set period, before buying the property at the end of the agreed renting period at an agreed discounted price.

      The rest of the plots were self-build projects. This meant that the buyers were able to build their own homes. All homes had a planning permission to build a three-bedroom detached house. However, most households resubmitted their own planning to suit their circumstances. Some required deferred plot payment for the purchase of their plot. This is another 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. Plots were all sold at a significant discount from open market value to make it possible for families to afford to build their homes.

  • Learning Points

      • It is important to assess your finances and personal circumstances before applying for a self build project. There were over 60 applicants for the Beauly plots but self build was not a viable route for many of them, which resulted in applicants having to withdraw their applications. Go to our Getting Started to page to make sure self-build is the right route for you.
      • In larger developments, there are sometimes specific design specifications required for all the houses. In the case of Beauly, all the self build homes had to be finished with a specific design so they blended in with the rest of the development.