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Sales centre opening at Wellbank, Cumbria

Potential homebuyers can find out more about custom build at the opening of the sales centre at Wellbank Park, West Cumbria on 16 July from 1-4pm.

Guests will be welcomed to the development with a glass of fizz to celebrate the official launch of phase one of the site.

Representatives from Hugr Homes will be on hand to answer any questions and visitors can find out more about how they could custom build their dream home in this breath-taking location.

Phase one of the development consists of 18 custom build plots, ranging from three, four and five-bedroom detached houses and two and three-bedroom bungalows.

Those who are unable to make the Wellbank open afternoon can contact Hugr directly to arrange an alternative appointment.

The site address is Church Lane, Bootle, Cumbria, LA19 5TB.

For more information contact the Hugr Homes team today by emailing or telephoning 07540 754153.

Bacon Review supports custom build

The publication of The Bacon Review, by Richard Bacon MP in 2021, has now resulted in a commitment by the government to establish a Custom and Self Build Housing Delivery unit within Homes England, which could pave the way to more people building their own homes.

This will enable the creation of serviced plots on small and large sites, plus support the delivery of custom and self build at scale across the country.

The government has also launched the Help to Build equity loan scheme, backed by £150 million funding, that will help buyers with 5% buyer deposits towards land and building costs.

The Bacon Review was commissioned by the Prime Minister, who asked him to undertake an independent review into scaling up self-build and custom housebuilding.

Richard Bacon made six recommendations:

  • A greater role for Homes England with the creation of a new Custom and Self-Build Housing Delivery Unit within Homes England.
  • Raise awareness of the right to build, with the Government, working through Homes England with the custom and self-build industry, create a custom and self-build housing show park, strengthen existing legislation to mandate the wider publicity of self-build and custom housebuilding registers.
  • Support community-led housing, diversity of supply and levelling up by reigniting the Community Housing Fund; creating accessible opportunities for communities to help themselves by introducing a Self-Help Housing Programme; and introducing a Plot to Rent Scheme.
  • Promote greener homes and more use of advanced manufacturing by supporting the pathfinding role of the custom and self-build housing sector in advanced manufacturing and in greener homes.
  • Support custom- and self-building through the planning reforms by maximising the opportunities for access to permissioned land for custom and self-build across all tenures. This would include changing right to build legislation.
  • Iron out any tax creases so any perceived disadvantages in the tax system between the custom and self-build delivery model and other forms of housing are ironed out.

The government’s response has now been published, with Housing Minister Rt Hon Stuart Andrew MP saying the “government strongly believes that self and custom build housing can play a crucial role – as part of a wider package of measures – in securing greater diversity in the housing market, increasing overall supply and helping to deliver the homes people want.”

It agreed to some of the recommendations. “In some cases, where we are not able to commit to recommendations today, the Government has committed to do additional work to investigate their viability for future years, as we continue to deliver on our manifesto commitment to support self and custom build housing,” added the Housing Minister.

What this means for Hugr Homes

We have long focused on delivering sites with plots that are ready for homeowners who want to custom build their own home.

Our research has shown there is growing demand for plots, demonstrated by the numbers of enquiries we receive about available land.

The Bacon Review and the launch of Help to Build equity loan scheme are welcome boosts to the market and will help to us to serve an even wider range of buyers.

We remain engaged with our customers so we can focus on their requirements and help them to build the house they want. We hope the launch of the specialist delivery unit within Homes England will allow enablers and developers like us to scale up our model and deliver more land for potential homes.

If you want to find out how you could enjoy living in your own custom built home, contact the Hugr Homes team today by emailing or telephoning 07540 754153.

Custom build comes to West Cumbria

Prospective residents of a West Cumbrian village are putting their imaginations to work, designing individual custom build homes.

The idea of developing the Wellbank site, near Bootle, goes back to 2011 and the Bootle2020 plan, which was launched to try to attract new families to the area.

The 12.5-acre former Ministry of Defence site was tipped for development and gained outline planning permission from the Lake District National Park Authority for a mixture of 50 houses, a small hotel and a number of business units.

Final demolition and site enabling work for the project was completed last year and first phase plots for 18 Custom Build homes are now available. Four are already reserved.

Planning rules stipulate that the houses have to be people’s primary residence, rather than a second home, and it is hoped construction of the first houses will begin by autumn 2022.

The site is owned by FNS limited, which is working with Wilmslow-based company Hugr Homes Ltd, a specialist of custom-build homes that is project manager for Wellbank and will deliver the homes.

Hugr Homes is now in the final stages of agreeing with the national park the basic types of houses it can offer, although the home owners will be able to choose from a number of options to make their home unique.

“We’ll have a design guide approved by the planners and that will set out the parameters for how each house will look,” says Joe Higginson, owner and director of Hugr Homes. “What that gives you is a bit of a continuity of house types on the site.”

When buyers purchase their plot of land, they will work with Hugr to ensure any changes or adaptations to the design are within the terms agreed with the national park. These might include altering the materials and design and internal layout or spending more money on features such as extra insulation, solar batteries or air source heat pumps.

“Obviously now you’ve got a lot more working from home and flexible working,” says Joe.

“Whereas pre-Covid you might have just had a spare bedroom, people are now wanting something designed to be more specifically a home office.”

When it comes to the cost of a custom-build home, people are often surprised how cost-effective it can be: a plot costs from £100,000 to £125,000, with the build cost extra on top of that.

“Roughly speaking you should work on the assumption you will spend probably the same amount of money you would usually spend buying an equivalent house, but it will probably be built better, specified better and will fit your needs better,” says Joe.

He says the attractions of the national park, plus the draw of big employers such as BAE, in Barrow, and the nuclear industry surrounding Sellafield mean there has been no lack of interest.

“You’ve got the benefits of the Lake District National Park without perhaps some of the disadvantages of being in some of the more busy areas,” says Joe, who is also building homes near Kirkham and Great Eccleston, in Lancashire. “You’ve obviously got the beaches five or 10 minutes away. The Western Lakes is just a fantastic location.”

Not only is Wellbank a site of sustainable, timber-framed homes, it is also a community with cycleways and pathways, while particular attention has been paid to the open space, for people to meet and for children to play safely, and circulation routes, with wide pathways linking its separate parts.

Hugr Homes has created a detailed SuDS (sustainable draining system). This type of system is both efficient and environmentally beneficial because it minimises or eliminates long-term detrimental damage. Not only do SuDS mimic natural draining systems, capturing rainwater and allowing it to soak into underground permeable areas, they also help to create attractive wildlife habitats.

Last year the Government commissioned an independent review into the state of custom- and self-build housing in the UK, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying: “Self-build and custom-build housing can play a crucial role for consumers and ensuring people can live in the homes that they want, and that are designed to meet their needs.”

About 13,000 houses are built in this way in the UK each year, making it collectively the fourth or fifth biggest source of housing when ranked alongside other house builders.

“As a model it is something that the Government is trying to encourage,” says Joe. “If you go into Europe, lots of people custom-build their own house. It’s only in the UK, really, where we’re a bit different and we tend to buy our new houses from the big house builders. In the future, the Government is definitely looking to boost this part of the housing market and we aim to play our part in delivering these higher-quality homes.”

For more information contact the Hugr Homes team today by emailing or telephoning 07540 754153.

Timber frame benefits

When it comes to choosing the right structural system and materials for your new-build home, it is important not to get hung up on whether one system is better than another.

Instead, focus on which system best suits your needs and what you require from your build. Looking at the benefits of different build systems is the best way to identify what stacks up best for you.

Timber frames have multiple benefits and here we outline the primary reasons why they are increasingly the building method of choice for self-builders.


If you need to get to the wind and watertight stage quickly, choose a timber frame. The typical self-build home takes about 8-12 months – from first footing to moving in, but excluding the time it takes to identify land and obtain the necessary planning and building regulations approvals.

The first three to five months of the building stage are on the weatherproof stage, so if you have a pressing moving-in deadline, or if you are building during the colder, winter months when bad weather could pose a risk to your build schedule, a timber frame delivers faster results.

While groundwork contractors are onsite laying the foundations, your timber frame kit will be manufactured in the factory. This requires careful planning, but if you have a well-orchestrated project schedule, your frame kit can be delivered to site ‘just in time’ after groundworks are completed.

Timber frames are the best choice if speed is a defining factor of the build process. From delivery on site, the average four-bedroom family home takes between two and three weeks to reach the wind and water-tight stage.

This short and defined build time gives you control over your build schedule and minimises the risk of slippages that can delay your project and add unnecessary costs. Speed of erection also reduces the amount of noise, dust, and waste – ideal if you are in a residential area or have a tricky relationship with your neighbours because it minimises disruption.


Off-site manufacture of timber frames means high quality is assured: pre-fabrication within a factory environment allows for controlled, precision engineering, minimising the risk of defects and snagging. If your chosen supplier operates to a quality assurance system, there is additional peace of mind about the frame being subject to rigorous independent audits.

Thermal Efficiency

As energy costs skyrocket, achieving a thermally efficient home is more important than ever. A timber frame can enable very high levels of thermal insulation because the dwelling’s core insulation layer is housed within the structure. On top of this, multiple layers of insulation can be added to the structural fabric of the house to increase its thermal performance.

Most timber frame companies offer a range of U values (the measure of how effective a material is as an insulator – the lower the U value the more thermally efficient it is), depending on whether you want to meet building regulations or want to achieve a highly thermally efficient home.

Good timber frame companies can create a panel detail to meet your own or your architect’s U value requirements if you have a special detail in mind.


There are almost limitless possibilities when it comes to designing a timber frame home. Wood is a highly versatile building material: it’s light with a high strength-to-weight ratio and can be engineered, lending itself to innovative design possibilities and beautiful architecture.

Using a timber frame injects additional ease to the self-build process. Timber frame package providers, such as Fleming Homes, offer a range of additional services including design, planning and building regulations expertise, comprehensive material supply options so you benefit from its buying power, and erection to the wind and watertight stage, all of which help to make the process easier.


Timber has superior environmental credentials. It is a natural, renewable and sustainable resource with low embodied carbon. Compared to the manufacture of steel and concrete, with their enormous environmental cost, the lowest CO2 of any building material is a timber frame.

The Forestry Commission reports that dwellings built in timber frame can lead to a saving of up to 86% of green-house gas emissions compared to masonry construction.

It is worth noting that the building industry contributes 32% of all waste nationally (BRE 2006), but off-site manufacture of timber frame within a factory environment can reduce the amount of waste generated on site by up to 40%. Most timber frame waste generated can also be recovered or recycled.

A timber frame can also positively impact health and safety on your site. Working from height is the most frequent cause of fatal accidents in the workplace and just over a quarter of these deaths occur in the construction industry.

A prefabricated timber frame reduces work at height by up to 80%, which in turn reduces the risk of injury on your site. Reduced manual handling of materials on site, and other reductions, such as less potential for slips and trips, also mean a 25% improvement in site safety.

Overall Value

When looking at overall value, it’s important to look at the process in the round: what good is speed of erection if you end up with endless snagging and defects? Using a timber frame combines myriad benefits, resulting in exceptional value for the self-builder.

For more information, contact the Hugr Homes team today by emailing or telephoning 07540 754153.

Discover custom build

As more of our projects come to fruition, we thought it would be a good time to explain why we created Hugr Homes, what our aims and goals are – and why we believe that custom build homes should be a mainstream part of the UK’s housing market.


Hugr Homes was formed to work with landowners, local authorities, housing associations, strategic land developers and individuals to facilitate and enable the development of custom build homes.

Created by Joe Higginson, a chartered surveyor with 30 years’ experience in the UK property market, he now leads a team of architects, planning consultants, site managers and environmental consultants, all of whom share Joe’s passion for custom build housing.

We work with companies and consultants who bring ideas, products and services that are not only innovative but also promote our goals in helping more buyers discover the advantages of custom build.


We want more people and communities to realise the feeling of wellness and contentment from their homes and their surrounding area.

As anyone who has gone through the house buying process will tell you: it’s hard to find everything you want on your wish list.

We believe home buyers know better than anyone what they want, but the majority of new homes are being built by the mass market housebuilders – and there is very little choice when it comes to what you can buy and how it will be specified.

But, there is another way.

We want homes to be designed by the people who will live in them because these will better suit their needs – and by custom building, you get the style and specification of the home you want at the price that you want to pay.

Most people accept there is a need for new housing across the country, but many oppose the building of typical sprawling estates of identical housing that look the same whether you are in Coventry, Cambridge or Carlisle.

These identikit boxes cover the landscape, with no thought to the local area and the style of property that will suit that location.

This is where custom building is different: it works within the framework of a design code and sets parameters for the materials to be used, but then enables the homeowner to put their own stamp on the exterior design.

This results in a more interesting design that is more in keeping with the surrounding area.

The UK lags behind other countries in this respect.

Here, fewer than 10% of all new homes are self or custom built, whereas in Germany, Italy and Belgium, it is more than 50%.

On a global basis, an average 40% of homes are self commissioned in developed countries.

While we know we can’t change the UK figures substantially on our own, we know we can make a difference.


So what does all this mean in practice?

We know the hardest part of building your own home is finding the plot of land.

This is where we come in as we provide you with the available plots on our sites where you can custom build your home.

Much of the initial work will have been done as our sites already have roads and infrastructure installed and they have planning permission in place, plus there is a design guide that clearly shows what can be built there.

We also recognise that while you want to build your own home, you probably aren’t a designer or an architect. That’s OK – because we can help as much or as little as you need.

There is usually a range of house types and styles you can consider as a starting point and then you can work with us to change and adapt those layouts and styles to suit your preferences.

Once the layouts are agreed, we move on to the specification. This is where home buyers recognise the distinct advantages of custom build because we can make them more economical and energy efficient.

If energy-efficient equipment and systems are catered for at the start of the design process, they become more cost-effective as incorporating solar technology, battery backup, heat pumps to extract and transfer heat from the air or the ground can be done from day one.

If you need a mortgage to finance the building of your home, we can help with that, too, as we work with specialist mortgage providers and insurance warranty providers who understand the custom build market.

Want to learn more?

Are you interested in finding out more about how you can realise your custom build dream home? Whether you need you hand held throughout the process, or you want to take a more independent approach to creating your dream home, we are here to advise.

Contact the Hugr Homes team today by emailing or telephoning 07540 754153.

Developer and manufacturer form unique partnership

Guest blog by Sarah Mathieson, managing director of Fleming Homes

A UK specialist in custom built homes has joined forces with a leading manufacturer of timber frame properties for a unique development in the Lake District.

Hugr Homes, which is based in the North-West of England, with its private equity partner FNS, is behind Wellbank, a 50-plot development on land on the edge of the village of Bootle, in West Cumbria, with views of the Western fells.

As part of its aims to create a development of eco-friendly and sustainable homes, it has partnered with Fleming Homes, which is based in the Scottish Borders and has more than 35 years’ experience in the design and manufacture of bespoke, timber frame homes.

Joe Higginson, founder and managing director of Hugr Homes, said: “We were keen to work with a timber frame company to help the process for the buyers of plots at Wellbank and it was clear that Fleming Homes had the right product and the experience in this sector.

“The Fleming Homes team will provide guidance and expertise to plot buyers to help in the design and specification of their homes in this beautiful part of the Lake District National Park, which is just 10 minutes from the Cumbrian coast.”

Custom build is ideal for people who want to create their own home with minimal risk because it enables them to have control of the design and specification to suit them and their budget, while benefiting from the expertise of a developer.

Hugr Homes offers a range of plots with planning permission and ensures buyers can create homes that are thermally efficient and sustainable.

The timber frame super structures are quick to erect – the average four-bed family home can be erected to wind and watertight in two to three weeks – which results in considerable efficiencies when it comes to managing build schedules.

Modern methods of construction and offsite manufacture also ensure homes are produced within a factory environment to exacting standards.

At Wellbank, both companies have designed a range of homes to suit the site and because their approach is flexible, buyers have multiple options to achieve their ideal home.

“Custom building your own home can seem a little more daunting than it really is, but we help to make the process as smooth as possible,” said Joe.

“If you buy a new home in the UK, your choice is limited to the designs the national house builders decide you should have, but with custom build, the buyer is in charge of room layouts, specifications and the green and smart elements to boost the eco credentials.

“It’s far more economical than many people believe and they may be surprised to find a custom-build option is well within their budget. It’s an option that is well-established across Europe and we want to see the UK catch up.”

Wellbank, which is about one mile away from Bootle railway station and less than half an hour from Broughton in Furness, will be one of the largest custom build schemes in the UK, with 18 plots available in phase one.

As well as accommodating bungalows and detached houses on spacious plots, the site will also have cycleways and pathways and particular attention is being paid to the open space and circulation routes, with wide pathways linking separate parts of the site.

Hugr Homes is already in discussions with interested buyers from as far away as London, while two plots of the first phase are already reserved.

Sarah Mathieson, managing director of Fleming Homes, said: “We both align on the idea of helping more people live in higher quality homes. What Fleming Homes is keen to do is open-up the possibility of self and custom-building as a real option to more people to achieve more low-carbon, energy efficient, quality homes.

“It’s about giving more choice for homeowners to live their lives in homes that meet their aspirations for living and in homes that are ultimately fit for the future.”

For more information of timber frame, contact Fleming Homes by emailing or telephoning 01361 883785.