Submission: September 18, 2015
Registration:  September 18, 2015
Language: English
Location: Concept – UK
Prizes: Total Prizes: £5,000
Type: Open


We are seeking innovative ways of building a home that can ‘expand’ and ‘contract’ to suit a family’s needs throughout their lifetime. Typically when new households are formed they require space for just one or two people; then children come along and the family quickly needs extra rooms. Later in life it is not unusual for families to downsize. And in many cultures the concept of inter-generational living is popular.

At present these changes usually require people to sell their existing homes and find a new one. We believe there is another option – an ultra-flexible, low-cost ‘modular’ solution that can be easily built by anyone with reasonable DIY skills. Or the solution could be a very cost effective modular watertight ‘shell’ that self builders can fit and finish off themselves.


We want entrants to design a basic self build module or ‘shell’ that can accommodate a reasonable living space/kitchen/ bathroom and bedroom for (initially) a one or two-person household. This should provide a minimum of 40 sq m. This module must be buildable for no more than £40,000 (ideally it will be significantly less). In addition we want you to show how this can be easily ‘extended’ using other modules – such as bedrooms, bathrooms or other accommodation units.

The site is a typical rural/suburban one and you can assume that there are no complex planning restrictions. It is 15m wide and 30m deep, and is level. See the diagram that provides more information about the site’s orientation, ground conditions, road and services access etc. The site would not be able to accommodate anything more than three stories high, and your designs should indicate how parking for up to four vehicles can be provided.

We want to see a number of configurations, showing how the home can be easily and sympathetically extended over
its lifetime.

There are two main options open to you when it comes to constructing the basic modules.

• They can be designed from the outset to be totally self built • Or you can design an initial watertight ‘shell’ that is produced in a factory, that a self builder can then finish off.

The technical detail will be important – so you should explain exactly how the modules will be made, the materials used and how they can be clipped together. And we also want you to think about how the costs might be reduced further, if they were produced in large numbers.

In addition we will require some robust costs information – the details of this element are set out below.

Above all we are looking for affordable and innovative ideas.

In the last two Self Build on a Shoestring competitions the winners have both gone on to see their designs progressed on real sites. We hope to attract widespread media attention for the winners of this competition so that their ideas are adopted too.


• The maximum construction/materials budget is £40,000 for the initial one/two person module. This excludes land, professional and local authority fees, service connections, insurances and warranties. Entrants are especially encouraged to develop a solution that costs less. This budget per home must also cover parking, bike and bin storage and landscaping.

• A detailed Cost Report MUST be provided alongside your design proposals. Please use the Excel spreadsheet to summarise your estimated costs (email shoestring@nacsba.org.uk and we will send this to you) and provide this as the first sheet of your report. In addition, for each of the headings in the spreadsheet, we would like a paragraph or two that summarises the specification/materials that you have proposed, the quantities used, and the rates per unit of material. remember that any part of the project that is not entirely self built will need a labour cost added. And, where appropriate, you should make an allowance for any plant hire or specialist equipment needed.

In addition to the main figures that show the construction cost of the initial module we would also like to see details of the cost of the various additional add-on accommodation modules you plan to provide.

The cost report must be no longer than five pages of A4.

• In addition you MUST also supply a description of the proposed Delivery Process for your project – so we want a short explanation that sets out how you envisage procuring/delivering the modules. For example, will they be wholly self built, or do you propose to provide a factory produced low-cost ‘shell’? We also want you to estimate how the costs of production could be further reduced if the modules were delivered at real scale. This document should be no more than two pages of A4 and should be attached to the end of the cost report.


• Entrants must present their designs (images, plans and text) on one side of an A2 portrait sheet mounted on lightweight board, and also as a PDF file. no models or other materials are to be submitted (apart from the compulsory Cost report).

• There should be no distinguishing marks, names or logos on the front of the A2 board. Make sure you have completed the declaration form and attach this to the rear of the panel when you submit it.

• The Cost Report must be no more than five sides of A4 (portrait format) provided as a hard copy (in an envelope, attached to
the back of your A2 board), and also as a PDF file. The two- page description of the anticipated Delivery Process should be attached to the cost report as the sixth/seventh pages.

• Submissions must be received NO LATER THAN 5PM on FRIDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER 2015


There is a total prize fund of £5,000, which will be distributed by the judges. In addition to identifying an overall winner, the judges reserve the right to also commend other entries.

The judges will decide how much to award to each.