Case Studies

There will eventually be dozens of case studies available in this Toolkit. You can search to find the most appropriate examples in several ways.

For instance, if you are keen to explore examples of homes that are low cost, and built in a rural area, click on the relevant icons below – this will sort the case studies and identify the Exact Matches, followed by the Possible Matches. You can view the case studies in a grid form, or as a simple list.

If you are not sure where to start you can simply call up a full list, or look at a map to identify them by location.

There is a short Summary provided for each case study, and beneath this a series of icons that identify the project initiator; the size/scale of the project; if it is in a rural, suburban or urban location; whether it is low cost, intermediate cost or high cost; if it is group project (or aimed at individuals), and the built form (eg detached, terraced or apartments).

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Exact Matches

  • Graven Hill, Bicester

    Up to 1,900 new private homebuilding opportunities will be created on the outskirts of Bicester on the former Ministry of Defence (MoD) Graven Hill site. The project is one of the largest and most ambitious schemes of its type in Europe

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  • Vrijburcht, Amsterdam

    Vrijburcht (or the ‘free castle’) is a collectively commissioned mixed-use project in the Ijburg district of Amsterdam. It is a prime example of Collectief Particulier Opdrachtgeverschap (CPO) – a method of collective custom build housing that is well established in the Netherlands

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  • Self-Help Housing in Goshen, California

    More than 50,000 low-income families in the United States have built their own affordable homes through an innovative ‘self-help’ (‘sweat equity’) housing programme. Each household has to contribute a minimum of 40 hours a week for up to 12 months; in return their homes cost about 20 to 25% less

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  • De Vrijegeest, Akersloot

    De Vrijegeest is a collective housing project for young, first-time buyers in the village of Akersloot, just north of Amsterdam. By working together, with support from a specialist advisor (and in partnership with a housing association) the collective built homes that cost 22 per cent less than equivalent local properties. The residents also had a major say in the design of their homes

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  • How Shropshire’s Exception Site policy delivers affordable privately built homes

    Shropshire’s Single Plot Exception Sites policy permits individual modestly-sized homes on sites that would not secure planning permission for open market housing, provided the household is in housing need, has a strong local connection and a need to live locally. The policy is currently delivering 25 to 30 properties a year – roughly 15 per cent of the county’s current average affordable housing provision

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  • Baugemeinschaft Hafenliebe, Hamburg

    This 54 apartment project demonstrates that it is possible for building groups to deliver financially viable projects on high-land value city centre sites. Initiatives like this work especially well alongside conventional developer-led projects, as they can broaden the range and tenure of homes that are provided

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  • Aspern Seestadt, Vienna

    Vienna has two large-scale developments aimed at building groups. The City Council sees groups as a way of creating new housing opportunities – especially housing for the elderly – and it has encouraged groups in its ‘Housing, Housing Construction and Urban Renewal Agreement’ since 2010. This case study focuses on five groups building 150 homes in the Aspern Seestadt development area

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  • Gutleutmatten

    This 5.4 hectare former allotment site is being developed by the city council with a strong emphasis on delivering affordable and intermediate homes. More than 200 building groups bid for the 28 parcels of land. The overall development is expected to make a small profit for the council

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  • Continental Refurbishment Projects

    In Germany and the Netherlands many redundant buildings have been converted to housing –reasonably priced ‘shells’ are sold that people can ‘self refurb’ themselves. For example in The Hague a large office building is currently being transformed into 67 new homes, and in the Netherlands redundant police stations have been converted to homes via self refurb. This case study looks at three self refurb projects that involve former school buildings

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  • Newton Close, Bicester

    This development was initiated by Cherwell District Council as part of its ‘Build!’ programme. It provides 21 shared ownership ‘self finish’ homes. The Council organised the construction of the watertight shells, and the residents then finished them off – fitting the plasterboard, the kitchen units, installing the flooring, doors, architraves and skirting boards, and doing all the decorating, tiling and landscaping. In return the homes were discounted by £10,000

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  • Nieuw Leyden, Leiden

    Around 700 homes have been built on a redundant central site in the heart of Leiden, in the Netherlands. The project was delivered by a successful partnership between the city council and a housing association. The new homes were built quickly and generated a good return for the partnership

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  • Alte Weberei, Tübingen

    This site was occupied by a redundant textile mill. The council’s own development company acquired the land, organised a master plan and then marketed the larger plots to locally formed building cooperatives. Collectively it now provides homes for around 700 people and has also created about 100 new jobs. The project is seen as one of the most innovative and attractive community-led projects of its type in Europe

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  • Elf Freunde, Berlin

    On a compact suburban site, five miles east of the centre of Berlin, 11 young families worked collaboratively to build these simple terraced properties. While the homes broadly look the same from the outside, internally they are all laid out differently to suit each family

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  • Isabellaland, The Hague

    The Dutch city of Den Haag (‘The Hague’) has a very active enabling team that has delivered almost 600 homes in three years by supporting private homebuilders. The initiative focuses on Kleinschalig Opdrachtgeverschap (KO, or ‘small commissioning’) of homes on municipal land. The Isabellaland site is typical of the council’s approach to private homebuilding

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  • De Flat, Amsterdam

    This is one of the largest affordable ‘self refurb’ schemes in Europe, providing some 500 homes in a 1970s social housing complex that had been condemned for demolition. Private homebuilders can buy a ‘shell’ on a 40 year lease at prices starting from £47,000. The project was originally expected to take four years, but demand has been so strong that the whole development has been completed in about half this time

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  • Bristol CLT

    Bristol City Council has established a Community Land Trust (CLT) to help deliver affordable homes to rent/intermediate homes to buy on a shared ownership basis across the city. Its first project involves converting a redundant school into six apartments and building six new homes (for self-finish) in the former playground, and a second project – for 36 homes, including full self-build – is now in the pipeline

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  • HoUSe, Manchester

    A modular terraced house has been developed that private homebuilders can customise in a number of ways – for example the house can be either two or three stories high, and there are numerous alternative internal layout and specification options. The construction costs for the ‘basic level’ works out at £1,100 per sq m. A pilot project of 44 homes in Manchester sold quickly and the developer now has two other projects in the pipeline

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  • Group Projects in Strasbourg

    Strasbourg has become a big supporter of collective projects, and currently has 16 developments in the pipeline or nearing completion. Collectively these will deliver around 140 modestly priced homes. The initiative has co-ordinated by one member of the council’s housing team

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  • Kalkbreite, Zurich

    This 97 home development in central Zurich was completed in mid 2014. Eighty per cent of the homes are available at well below local market rents, and eleven of the properties are reserved specifically as social rented housing. It was organised by a local community group that set up a housing co-operative to manage and procure the project. The group is now working on a second development that will deliver a further 70 homes

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  • Spreefeld Genossenschaft, Berlin

    This is one of the largest and most innovative group build projects undertaken in berlin – a city where one sixth of all the new housing is organised by groups. The co-operative project provides 65 apartments in three seven-storey blocks. All the homes are built to Passive House standards

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  • Rural plots in Oberleichtersbach

    Many small rural councils in Germany bring forward a steady stream of affordable building plots on small sites by working with local landowners. This is a good example of how small rural authorities can proactively release affordable plots for local people to build their own homes. The approach benefits local landowners and has minimal impact on council resources

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  • Cohousing Vinderhoute and other Cohousing projects

    The bulk of this case study describes a recent cohousing project in Belgium; towards the end there are also short descriptions of three recent UK cohousing examples in Lancaster, Leeds and Cambridge

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  • Projekthaus, Potsdam

    This simple, relatively low-cost building provides seven apartments. The project is built to Passive House standards and cost about £600,000 to construct. The apartments are rented at slightly above local social rent levels. The rental income will repay the loan that was taken out to finance the construction and it will then be used to fund similar developments

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  • Kleine Bergstrasse, Hamburg

    These 55 rented apartments were delivered by an enabling housing provider working with two building groups. One group is for older women who want to live in a mutually supportive environment and the other is organised around the concept of intergenerational living. The housing provider also included some subsidised rental apartments and a residential care community

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  • Beauly, Scottish Highlands

    The development at Beauly features ten self-built affordable homes enabled by the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT). The Trust has, for many years, provided serviced self-build plots to low-income households in rural areas across the North of Scotland.

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  • 56-64 Blenheim Grove, London

    A custom build developer is delivering five ‘self finish’ terraced homes with financial support from the Greater London Authority. The properties are designed to allow the occupiers to complete the interiors as they wish. The homes should also deliver better value. The project was initiated by a group of local residents who approached the developer to help them. Completion is scheduled for late in 2016

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  • Third sector private homebuilding projects

    It is challenging to deliver self-build homes that are genuinely classified as ‘affordable’. One way to do it is by working in partnership with organisations like housing associations, the Community Self Build Agency, charities, trusts and similar organisations. This case study examines initiatives from Belgium and the USA plus three recent UK projects – from London, Liverpool and Bristol

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  • Broadhempston CLT, Devon

    The drainage, slab and basic timber shell for these six homes was constructed by contractors, with the homes being roofed, clad externally and fully fitted out by a group of local people who all committed to work at least 20 hours a week. The land was acquired at agricultural values, and is now owned by a Community Land Trust. The all-up cost of each home is around £140,000 (about one third of equivalent sized homes in the village)

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  • Serviced Plots at Penkhull, Stoke-On-Trent

    This council-led initiative provided serviced building plots to attract wealth creators to the area. Six plots were delivered in this pilot scheme, and three further developments are now in the pipeline. The plots were sold at an average price of £98,500, and there was strong demand. Most of the homes are now complete and occupied

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  • Orwell Housing Association – affordable self-finish

    This housing association-led project has provided a total of eight affordable self finish homes – four in Felixstowe and four in Norwich. The homes are available on a shared equity basis, and there is a six to seven per cent discount offered in return for the occupants doing the decorating, fitting the kitchen and bathroom, and the external landscaping. Demand has been strong, with most people initially buying a 50 per cent stake. This means the initial mortgage/rent works out at just over £500 per month

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  • The Acre – Cumnor Hill, Oxfordshire

    This is the first custom build development by HAB – the company set up by Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud. The five individually designed homes are aimed at the top end of the market, and while the exterior and basic footprint are set, the company is offering a number of internal layout and detailed specification options. Work began on site in the summer of 2015, and the homes should all be complete late in 2016

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  • Homemade @ Heartlands, Cornwall

    This is the largest private-sector custom build development in the UK and it is being delivered by Carillion Igloo in partnership with the HCA on a former tin mining complex in central Cornwall. Ultimately it will provide 54 custom designed homes. Would-be self builders have a choice of six home manufacturers’ standard houses, though each home offers a range of options. The plots will be for sale at around £50,000 each and an entry-level house will cost around £130,000 to £140,000

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  • Lusignac, France

    These serviced building plots are typical of the approach adopted in many rural parts of France. The scheme was initiated by the local Mayor and provides seven plots – each of about 2,300 sq m – that sell for between £15,000 to £20,000. The main reason for facilitating the plots is to help stop rural depopulation

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  • Duneland Ecovillage, Scotland

    The cohousing project is a good example of cost effective collective custom building. It provides 25 attractive eco-homes, plus ten serviced building plots, and a terrace of six homes. A later phase will deliver eight affordable apartments

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