I couldn't afford a place in London – so I built my own home

i couldn't afford a place in london – so i built my own home

Homeowner Rory Wakefield working on his home (Picture: Tony Kershaw / SWNS)

First-time buyers in London have turned to building their own homes.

London’s astronomically high property prices have forced aspiring homeowners out of the city. The average cost of a home in the capital is over £712,000 according to Zoopla, making the dream of owning your own digs feel very out of reach for many.

People have sought to overcome these obstacles by taking part in a self-build scheme in Ladywell, Lewisham, south-east London.

The unique housing scheme was established by Rural Urban Synthesis Society (RUSS), which now has over 1,100 members. It’s a volunteer-led Community Land Trust based in south London.

When it was founded in 2009 it started its mission of creating ‘sustainable neighbourhoods and genuinely affordable homes,’ per the group’s website. ‘We aim to bring together people and nature to build a more mutually beneficial world’.

The Church Grove project is located a short walk from Ladywell train station in Lewisham. The properties have some rooms already installed, such as the kitchen and the bathroom. Residents have to build the rest, with self-build managers, an architect and a carpenter offering training to residents.

It has taken 15 years for the Church Grove project to reach the stage it’s at today, but now there are 36 homes people have started to make their own. Because the properties are part of a community land trust, they are owned by a non-profit organisation, which keeps them affordable.

The units are offered in various sizes and tenures: full ownership, part-rent-part-buy, London Living Rent and social rent.

Rory Wakefield, a 31-year-old musician, is still in the process of building his home and is currently working on laying his floors.

i couldn't afford a place in london – so i built my own home

The housing scheme was set up to create affordable housing in London (Picture: Tony Kershaw / SWNS)

He purchased his flat for around £300,000 one month ago. As a first-time buyer he was thrilled to own a home and says he has been a admirer of the scheme for a long time.

‘I wouldn’t have been able to get a house without this scheme,’ he said. ‘It makes it affordable.

‘I was born and raised in Lewisham, and I would never have been able to stay here without this scheme.

Latest London news

To get the latest news from the capital visit Metro.co.uk's London news hub.

‘It’s a very positive scheme. They should definitely make more – they need them.’

Not only are the homes more affordable, they’re said to be a fantastic opportunity for those who love DIY.

Rory loves being able to build parts of the property himself. ‘Building your own house is one of the best feelings that you can get. You can make it the way you want. It is so refreshing.’

Martin Oroyan, 61, moved into his part-rent-part-buy property with his partner and three sons just over a month ago, and is absolutely thrilled with the community feel.

i couldn't afford a place in london – so i built my own home

The Church Grove development where homes are being sold uncompleted (Picture: Tony Kershaw / SWNS)

The ambulance worker declined to say how much he bought his property for, but says he spent 25% of its value.

He said: ‘We have been involved in this project here in Ladywell since its inception in 2016 and it has been quite an experience.

‘My partner and I were first time buyers and had been trying to get ‘on the ladder’ for several years.

‘Our three boys were born while living in Forest Hill and we hoped to avoid moving, changing schools and the general upheaval that implies.

‘Without this project, we wouldn’t have been able to afford living within the M25.

‘We bought this house as a shell and over the last weeks we have installed floors, sanded, scraped and covered ourselves in paint to transform it into a place filled with our past history while making room for our history to come.

Couple Pete Bell and Emma Onono moved into their property in April with their eight-year-old son.

Emma, 48, said: ‘We applied for the scheme several years ago. Eventually we got an email saying that we made the top of the list and we jumped at it.

i couldn't afford a place in london – so i built my own home

Pete and Emma at home on Church Grove development (Picture: Tony Kershaw / SWNS)

‘It has a great community feel. You can’t walk from one side to the other without saying hi to someone. Where we used to live no one even knew their neighbours.

‘We got one with a kitchen in a concrete shell. We built the floors and painted the walls but that was all.

‘I love it. Absolutely love it. There is a really nice community.’

Pete, 55, says the couple paid just over 50% of the value of their family home, at around £300,000 for a £600,000 property.

He added: ‘We were on the waitlist for eight or nine years. It is very popular.

‘We have always rented, and we were interested in the affordable housing. I think there should be a lot more of these schemes if it helps people to get on the property ladder.

‘I can’t see us moving on from here, but it’s great that if we do it would still be affordable for the next people.’

Anurag Verma, chair of RUSS, has been volunteering for the organisation for six years and says that the final development is even better than he imagined.

He said: ‘I thought it was a great opportunity to see how a bunch of people could come together and make something of lasting value for our local community and for people who are struggling to buy affordable homes.

‘It has been a really long journey. I have been living and breathing this thing for six years, I am there at least once or twice a week.

‘I am very happy with it. I think it has exceeded all our expectations to be honest. There is such a good energy there.

‘It worked so well because we already had a community, we just needed the buildings.’

i couldn't afford a place in london – so i built my own home

The Church Grove development is close to Ladywell train station (Picture: Tony Kershaw / SWNS)

In terms of future plans, he added: ‘We are constantly on the search for new sites. There is still a lot of energy to do more.

‘I think it would be quite a shame if we stopped at one because there is so much incorporated knowledge in RUSS now on how to develop.

‘We are very keen to do more, but it is not easy to get access to land, so that is one of the big hurdles.’

A ballot to select the residents for the Church Grove project took place at Lewisham Town Hall back in March 2016. A notice on the RUSS website confirmed that as of April 2024, all the flats are now allocated.

You can join a contact list to be informed if vacancies arise in future by emailing [email protected].

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing [email protected].

Get your weekly guide to what's on in London, plus competitions and sign up to Metro's The Slice newsletter

OTHER NEWS

14 minutes ago

When is the next Copa America tournament?

14 minutes ago

Biden denies using violent anti-Trump rhetoric; widow rejects Biden call: Live updates

14 minutes ago

Bank of England should cut interest rates to help households, says Monetary Policy Committee member

14 minutes ago

iOS 18 public beta live — here's the 9 features you should try right away

14 minutes ago

Government officials raise concerns after new governor rolls back decades of legislation: 'Has chosen to ignore the law'

14 minutes ago

How did Bayern Munich perform at EURO 2024?

14 minutes ago

'We haven't failed': police sift through CFMEU claims

14 minutes ago

Spurs make contact for "unstoppable" 180k-p/w forward Conte wanted to sign

16 minutes ago

Alonso doesn't 'want to get traded,' says he's 'super happy to be a Met'

19 minutes ago

After fans crash Copa America final, security concerns for B.C.’s World Cup games

19 minutes ago

Police and firefighters were called to this Coquitlam shelter over 700 times last year

22 minutes ago

Biden followed Obama’s vilification playbook — now he’s stuck with overheated rhetoric

23 minutes ago

Elon Musk plans to give $45 million a month to pro-Trump super PAC, WSJ reports

24 minutes ago

Shannen Doherty spent final weeks enduring ‘hardest time’ she’d ever experienced with cancer

24 minutes ago

‘Genius product’ gets you 12 perfumes for £30 – and it's ‘perfect for travel’

24 minutes ago

A personal trainer at a longevity clinic says you should care about 3 fitness markers if you want to live a long, youthful life

25 minutes ago

B.C. business decries ‘money grab’ to make pandemic patio permanent

25 minutes ago

Safety, increased Wi-Fi access among $200M Northern B.C. highway improvements

25 minutes ago

Celebrities are getting $2,000 MRI scans to learn about their health. Should you?

25 minutes ago

Camera IconRE/Perth Winter Arts Festival: Launch of inaugural winter festival

25 minutes ago

Camera IconGrease the musical: Socials gallery from VIP opening night

25 minutes ago

Boomers give USA a scare in Olympics warm-up

25 minutes ago

Up 80% in a year, why is this ASX 200 stock hitting a record high today?

25 minutes ago

Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz to return for ‘Shrek 5’

25 minutes ago

At least 300 migrants arrive in Dover after rescue by Border Force

25 minutes ago

Pair of Ravens rookie draft picks not physically ready to start training camp

25 minutes ago

Messi loses fitness battle at Copa America, puts goal of playing 6th World Cup on hold

25 minutes ago

Trump shooting: World leaders condemn attack on former US president

25 minutes ago

Households struggling with cost of living as grocery prices rise

25 minutes ago

How photographers view the photos of Trump's assassination attempt

25 minutes ago

Falcons planning to use Kyle Pitts at these two positions in 2024

25 minutes ago

The Real Reason Glen Powell Looks So Different

25 minutes ago

A TV Channel Removes This Simpsons Episode After Trump's Attempted Assassination

25 minutes ago

The Pulled Commercial Featuring Donald Trump's Assailant

25 minutes ago

Ingrid Andress' national anthem before MLB Home Run Derby leaves impression

25 minutes ago

Broken Hill Correctional Centre marks a NAIDOC Week cultural first for Indigenous inmates

25 minutes ago

Priyanka Chopra’s rise to fame: How 'Quantico' launched a Global star!

25 minutes ago

Wolves to make formal complaint after Hwang Hee-chan suffers alleged racial abuse

25 minutes ago

Soccer-Spaniard deserving of Ballon d'Or after Euros win, says Rodri

25 minutes ago

Tradie shortage threat to booming house-building plans

ALONGWALKER VIETNAM: Kênh khám phá trải nghiệm của giới trẻ, thế giới du lịch ALONGWALKER INDONESIA: Saluran untuk mengeksplorasi pengalaman para pemuda global