Darlington Building Society has marked 2022 as the year to expand its self- and custom-build loan proposition, in order to fit with key trends in the residential market.

The building society has offered self- and custom-build lending for many years, partnering with BuildLoan and BuildStore, but Chris Hunter, chief operating officer, said it is looking to put out more products in the near future.

“There’s the Help to Build scheme that has been announced by the government, and we’re part of that that initial phase as well at Darlington,” he said. “We’ve got some products being launched shortly around that and to help support that.”

This, Hunter said, is a direct reaction to the trajectory of the market at this time.

Following the pandemic, and the advent of widespread home and hybrid working, Hunter explained that self and custom-build mortgages are going to be key in helping people get homes that fit the ‘new normal’.

He said: “It’s something we see as growth market for us – not just not just owning your own home, but helping design your own home is where we think the market’s going as buyers become more choosy and bespoke about what they want from their home.

“Home has become even more important in the pandemic than it probably was before. It’s less about a bed at night after a long commute, and more around work as well. It needs to work for you.”

This also goes beyond allowing customers to have a hand in the design of the home they buy, and also has wider ramifications, with both borrowers and the government calling for greener methods of construction and a more energy efficient housing stock.

“If we’re looking at things like climate change as well, modern methods of construction, the way that new-builds and new self-build homes are being built lends itself to improving energy efficiency,” he explained. “Again, we’re working to support that from our lending strategy as well.”

Part of the expanded proposition includes integrating Darlington Building Society’s self- and custom-build mortgages into its mortgage platform, launched in partnership with Iress.

This forms a significant part of the society’s lending strategy for the year ahead, as does the issue of green finance, having released a green mortgage last year.

However, he warned that the society is wary of the risk of creating a new generation of “housing prisoners” if the market focuses on Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) improvements that might be out of reach for many.

“We want to support those borrowers in the future, and I think that’s where the self-build market fits in as well,” Hunter said.

“It’s just understanding what we can do as a business, and I’m really conscious as well that it can’t be better for the environment to be knocking down an old building and building a brand new one, with the impact that might have on the on the environment.

“Renew, renovate, improve and make more efficient. That is where we see that ourselves being able to support that kind of green movement in the housing market.”

He added: “It’s really important that we don’t get overexcited with energy efficiency, and that it’s done in a balanced and proportionate way that ensures that we can continue to provide home ownership for borrowers.”