Self build trends 2017: Healthy homes, eco materials & creative space saving

It has been the year of the self-build, with reports suggesting the sector will double by 2018 as local authorities pledge to do more to support those wishing to build their own homes. Alongside a growing population and a significant increase in housing demand, there has arguably never been a better time to start working on a dream home project.

With demand on the rise for innovative materials to match ambitious, high quality self-build projects, the market is now filled with products to suit every need, from the eco-friendly, to the energy efficient, to the cost effective. Using sales data and insight, Chris Graham, Brand Manager, Roofing Superstore, highlights just some of the biggest self-build trends and materials which have reigned supreme in 2017.

Healthy Homes equals Healthy Living

One of the biggest trends is the concept of ‘healthy homes’; going beyond the eco trend, covering light, warmth, acoustics and even air quality. A home that is essentially both good to humans and to the environment, its overall ‘health’ can be determined by everything from its location, interior design, materials and indoor climate.

Having slowly gathered pace for years, the concept is increasingly adopted in the world of self-build today. As a result, natural building materials are becoming more popular, including products such as sheep’s wool insulation from the likes of Thermafleece, with its natural fibres helping to ‘filter’ the air improving its overall quality.

Good ventilation is also a key attribute of a healthy home, aiming to reduce or eliminate the amount of toxins released internally (high toxin levels are also linked with conditions such as asthma). Breather membranes, mechanical ventilation products and glazing products all claim to help achieve this, however even for the most experienced self-builder, creating a well-ventilated home is a specialist area and most would benefit from seeking professional advice in order to get it right.

Doing More with Less

With a 3.5% growth in 2015, the market for garden buildings and structures is booming and with annual growth figures consistently on the up, the trend looks only to continue as more homeowners seek to create more space. With many facing rising housing costs in urban areas, alongside creative home design TV shows, self-builders are turning to their gardens as a cost effective means of adding more room, without the expense of moving.

It is no longer focused on simple garden sheds, but instead it is now about creating an extension of the home, functioning in the same way as any interior space should – i.e. fully insulated and warm. Improving energy efficiency is also a big part of the self-build process and thin insulation products such as multi-foils are rising in popularity to suit increasing demand. Surprisingly, we have seen a rise in customers building garden recording studios, requiring specific materials such as acoustic insulation.

A garden room can also have financial benefits, including potentially adding 5% to a property’s value, and with house prices only looking set to increase in big cities, the garden room trend is showing no signs of slowing.

The New Magnolia

Often the quickest and easiest way to inject personality and individuality into a property is by applying a quick lick of paint or contrasting accessories. In just the past year, neutral, modern colours with strong accents like Anthracite Grey are fast becoming the palette of choice for self-builders and homeowners.

Manufacturers have responded accordingly, introducing products in new colour shades to suit changing home design palettes. Even basic home attributes such as guttering, soffits and fascias are now available in a broad range of colour and material options, including grey, steel and wood.

One company taking advantage of the rising trend is that of UK manufacturer Alumasc which offers a huge choice of aluminium coping, available in almost every colour. As such, home necessities are now becoming an additional design element, helping to making a bold architectural statement.

Saving time with Timber

Traditional brick and mortar is now no longer the obvious choice for self-builders, with timber increasing in popularity over recent years. One reason could be the fact that light weight building structures, such as timber, provide significant savings in terms of construction time and material cost, making it an ideal solution for the time poor and budget conscious self-builder.

Orders for timber are steadily on the increase, with its unique material characteristics also making it a perfect option for those looking to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Its status as a light weight structure with low thermal mass means it offers thermal protection against both heat loss and gain.

Alongside the rising popularity of timber, prefab and modular construction processes have evolved to suit the need for cost effective building practices. These almost ‘DIY-style’ building designs are quick, easy and adaptable, with the only additional accessory required often being that of a crane. For self-builders, taking a drawing to reality is now feasible in a matter of days, rather than a number of months.

Eco Innovation

Eco building is a sector which continues to evolve and innovate as a direct response to an increase in demand, particularly from the self-build market. With the public becoming more educated on the advantages of eco building processes and materials (largely fuelled by home, property and lifestyle TV shows), eco home designs and products are fast becoming essential elements of every new self-build.

The market is brimming with eco materials that promise to improve the energy efficiency, and even the aesthetics, and durability of a building – from infrastructure systems, to roofing. For example, triple, and even quad, glazed windows, recycled materials, ‘living roofs’ and sustainable drainage systems are all smart, durable, eco-friendly home additions.

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