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Couple help to build their own home

By Helen Carson

Published 09/03/2009

A Shankill Road couple have found a novel way of getting onto the property ladder — by helping to build their own home.

Jonathan and Susan Hutchinson, both 28, and their 10-month-old baby daughter Katie moved into their new home on the Shankill Road in Belfast last summer, thanks to Habitat for Humanity’s unique self-build scheme.

The couple found out about Habitat for Humanity and Clanmil Housing Association’s shared equity scheme, aimed at providing affordable turnkey homes on the Shankill Road, following a mail drop in the area.

The Hutchinsons had been renting a home in east Belfast as house prices in their area rocketed in 2007, during the province’s price boom.

“We couldn’t afford a house in our local area,” said Susan.

“There were two-bedroom terraces with an outside toilet for £220,000.”

The Hutchinsons put in a successful application to Habitat and started working on their new home last year.

Each new resident must spend 300 hours on the build, which includes their neighbours’ homes, to qualify for the 10% partnership grant from Habitat, which acts as a deposit — and unlike many other schemes does not have to be paid back.

The new home-owners work alongside a team of Habitat volunteers carrying out work such as putting up plasterboard, plastering, dry-walling and insulation, while experts do the brick-laying, plumbing and install electrics.

Mrs Hutchinson said: “I am pretty useless at DIY, but it was great fun. Now we have an affordable family home. It has three bedrooms so we will not have to move. We’ll be here for 30 years. It was even painted and carpeted when we moved in, so there really wasn’t anything to do but move the furniture in.”

And the Habitat Partner programme is now offering another four three-bedroom semi-detached properties, also on the Shankill Road, which will go on the market priced at £125,000.

The turnkey semi-detached homes in Sydney Street West have modern kitchens with fridge freezer and washing machine included, main bathroom and downstairs WC as well as a back garden and off-street parking.

Belfast Telegraph

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