SNUG Homes for Bristol – empowering people to create small, low impact and affordable homes.

Imagine a city where the residents are supported and empowered to design and create their own homes.

  • where this is possible for anyone regardless of their financial situation…
  • where a home does not need to be big, because it forms an integral part of a vibrant, sustainable community…
  • where finding an affordable home is about cooperation rather than competition…
  • where redundant land is reclaimed to become productive and biodiverse…
  • where people share ideas and learn new skills together…
  • where a person can build not only a home but also pride, self confidence and even a new career…
  • and where the whole city enjoys, learns and benefits from the diversity and creativity of these new homes and communities that are seeded across many different neighbourhoods. 

Could this city be Bristol?

Introducing SNUG homes – a project that will harness the creative energy of Bristol residents and businesses to transform the way we use land and build homes across Bristol. 

SNUG homes is about experimenting with new ways of building and living to resolve Bristol’s housing need in an urban environment through creative, innovative, collective, fun and imaginative routes.  

SNUGs are about empowering people to make their own choices.  Through facilitated learning, peer networking and teaming up with professionals, people will tackle obstacles and find their own solutions to housing need in Bristol. 

The homes will be small, they will be designed and built by the final occupier. They will have low running costs and be cheap to buy or rent.  They will be located in clusters on meanwhile and permanent sites across the city.

We would like to see the first round of SNUGs built in time for Bristol Green Capital 2015, creating a trail of mini-communities across the city that will inspire more people to get involved. 

As the concept grows, SNUG homes will provide a platform for training, collective action, affordable housing and community regeneration, firstly within Bristol and then spreading across the UK and beyond…

Imagine… now let’s make it happen!

Why the contribution is important

SNUG homes will help Bristol achieve the following outcomes:

More affordable housing

Bristol City Council has just launched its new Affordable Housing Delivery Framework, which aims to increase affordable housing provision from its current low level (predicted construction of 100 homes for 2013/2014), up to 2500 over 5 years.

With 14,000 people on the Housing Register, there is need for action on all fronts and the SNUG homes Bristol project aims to complement the AHDF by creating opportunities for people to take steps to solve their housing problems themselves rather than relying on other agencies to do it all for them. 

Strong, resilient, healthy communities

By involving the residents at every step of the way, giving them the freedom to make some choices over the design of their homes and the way that these are integrated into communities, SNUG homes will empower people to take responsibility over the stewardship of their homes and neighbourhoods. It has been demonstrated that having a say in local decision and having close contact with neighbours increases people’s wellbeing (Hothi at al., 2008).

Skill creation and employment opportunities

SNUG home designers will be given training in design and building skills as well as support and mentoring from a range of professionals. There will be face-to-face and online networking opportunities to help people share ideas and knowledge. All participants will become both student and teacher. With the new skills and confidence developed through the learning and building process, participants will have new opportunities for employment in the future.

Economic benefits

Design and construction of the homes will create economic activity and employment, for example through purchase of materials from local suppliers and use of professional services such as architects, project managers, carpenters, electricians and so on.

Reduced energy and resource use

SNUG homes are small, will incorporate materials that are reclaimed or from renewable sources, will have low energy demand and generate a substantial proportion of their energy requirement from renewables – helping to reduce Bristol’s energy requirements and making SNUG homes the perfect showcase for Bristol Green Capital 2015.

Meet demand for new housing solutions

Bristol has a rapidly growing population, and is well known as a regional, national and international hub for creativity and experimentation with new ideas. There is significant demand for new, more collective forms of housing such as cohousing and cooperative housing, as evidenced by the growth of groups such as the Cohousing Network and the Cohousing Forum, Bristol CLT (200+ members) and the national CLT network, while online forums such as Bristol Alternative Community Abodes Facebook page (900+ members), and 78,000 people showing interest for the international Tiny House Blog. We believe that given the chance, thousands of people would jump at the opportunity to take part in designing their future home and community.


The SNUG homes concept is easily transferable to any city, and starting the project in Bristol will maintain our city’s position as a global leader in developing creative solutions to environmental and social challenges.



Hothi, Mulgan, Brophy & Bacon (2008). Neighbourhood + Empowerment = Wellbeing: Is there a formula for happy communities? The Young Foundation. 

by user688183 on December 17, 2013 at 01:55PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.5
Based on: 74 votes


  • Posted by user659791 December 17, 2013 at 18:46

    Yes!! This is a brilliant, creative and inspiring idea for Bristol... Love it!
  • Posted by user429501 December 18, 2013 at 09:59

    I'd really love it if this idea came to pass. I think it will, because it relies mainly on the self help initiative of people who are desperate to have their own space to live in. I think it would be really great though if it got all the help the council were able to give it, so that it can be really high quality.
    -Access to land
    -Access to waste/surplus building materials
    -Access to council negotiated cheap price building materials

    Lots of other initiative is going to come from people who want to house themselves, but these things could be a helping hand, and revenue neutral. In fact, the ability to rent currently unutilised council land for this purpose could actually bring money in!
  • Posted by user993468 December 18, 2013 at 10:46

    Fantastic idea, affordable homes and good use of space within a city with limited space for new development and very little in the way of affordable housing
  • Posted by user155902 December 18, 2013 at 20:52

    Am totally into this and the points made in the comments really good. This whole thing is part of our way forward, people coming together and realising projects that we mostly previously thought weren’t possible. x
  • Posted by user394212 December 18, 2013 at 21:19

    genius it...bristol really needs to develop beneficial affordable housing that is thinking outside the box or in this case inside a nice cosy box...nice one Jackson IM IN!!
  • Posted by user379314 December 18, 2013 at 21:34

    Great idea! I have small house ideas i want to realise - do you have meantime/permanent land in bristol in place already or at least in mind..if so where? Otherwise, do i need to find the land and permission and then you help me with design and construction?


  • Posted by user562613 December 18, 2013 at 21:59

    a great idea. perfect for those that can't afford but still have a dream.
  • Posted by user810968 December 19, 2013 at 09:45

    Wow! I love this. It really captures the spirit of Bristol... There are so many people in the city who would like the chance to build their own home, without getting into massive debt. Definitely an idea whose time has come. Good luck!
  • Posted by user417510 December 19, 2013 at 11:38

    We need more housing, we need it to be affordable, and we need it to be sustainable. This idea seems to tick those boxes. Also, if it's using space which is currently not used, such as abandoned buildings or waste land, this will save our green spaces and our countryside from being turned in to another Barrett Home identikit wasteland.

    Bristol thrives on it's uniqueness - the city should be a hub of innovation, and not be afraid to break the mold. This could easily become an important development in housing which can in turn be replicated elsewhere in the country. Bristol, let's be bold and do this!!!
  • Posted by user779958 December 19, 2013 at 15:47

    This is an incredible idea and I definitely want to be a part of it. The most exciting thing is how within reach it is - it's such a feasable project which would have a massive impact and really raise the profile of Bristol.
  • Posted by user146939 December 19, 2013 at 23:41

    Sounds inspiring. I have lots of questions about how Bristol can make it happen, but a great idea. Thank you!
  • Posted by user203929 December 20, 2013 at 09:02

    I really love this idea , it is very well thought out and offers a realistic solution to one of the big questions we must have answers for as our children grow up.

    Bristol is very much the city that has the sense to see the importance of this project.

    Bets of luck
  • Posted by user453771 December 20, 2013 at 10:37

    A great idea that should be given every opportunity to become a reality. I'm up for it.

    Good work Jacks
  • Posted by user527850 December 20, 2013 at 12:32

    This idea addresses not only a basic human concern, shelter, but also allows for people to have more control over their lives and learn empowering skills that should lead to a more informed populous and promote the possibility of communal skill sharing. Excellent stuff!
  • Posted by user538499 December 21, 2013 at 11:52

    Excellent idea, right close and personal for people in need of housing. It also seems the next logical and practical step after the more nebulous concept of 'neighbourhood regeneration'. Could the City Council offer the services of its Building Inspectors to advise constructively (so to speak) on design?
  • Posted by user578986 December 22, 2013 at 00:49

    Awesome idea, LOVE it! Every single point in your introduction to this scheme above fills me with excitement. I think that the potential to empower and inspire people by way of a project like this is enormous. Count me in!
  • Posted by user203911 December 22, 2013 at 12:49

    I want one too please!

    Thanks for the great idea!
  • Posted by user323172 December 23, 2013 at 14:17

    Great idea to make the designing and building of your own home a reality without a huge financial commitment.
  • Posted by user502126 December 23, 2013 at 15:55

    Exciting, inclusive, progressive, practical - some of the best things about Bristol encapsulated in a brilliant idea. I want to see it happen and I want to get involved!
  • Posted by user859565 December 24, 2013 at 19:13

    This could be a fantastic opportunity for those with the drive and the imagination to build themselves a home. Lets do it!
  • Posted by user746321 December 27, 2013 at 16:03

    Great idea, bristol should be leading on things like this and living up to its reputation as an alternative and progressive city!
  • Posted by user192905 December 28, 2013 at 14:47

    very good make Bristol the hub for sustainable building. Great for our economy.
  • Posted by user524338 December 30, 2013 at 13:12

    I believe this to be the way forward for low cost housing Bristol and across other cities. Give people the opportunity to self determine their needs rather than live in a box that developers determine by profit. This gives communities more ownership, leads to creativity and self reliance.

    I truly hope this happens, and I'm ready to start building mine.
  • Posted by user161284 January 02, 2014 at 16:47

    I think this is a great idea and it would be very interesting to see how this would impact local communities and meet a growing need for affordable homes.

    I support it 100% and would like to know more!
  • Posted by user496453 January 07, 2014 at 11:01

    Building your own home even with emplying a main contractor shaves up to a third of the price making everything realistic once more. Self build is the norm in many other EU countries and facilitating it is the key to solving the housing crisis. It is the only solution in Bristol. This is a great idea and one the Council can support with little or no little direct cost. Perfect in this time of cuts.
  • Posted by user661721 January 11, 2014 at 14:23

    Having seen the inspired community that Jackson lives in and knowing the ethics are sustainable and community driven I am in full support of the Snug Homes initiative. As a producer of sustainable small structures I would be most interested in assisting this project visit to see some of the things that can be brought to the table.
  • Posted by user982064 January 12, 2014 at 11:56

    Yes please! The aims and ideas behind this seem very realisable and cover off so many important areas. It'd be wonderful if the council harnessed such a great idea to show that Bristol fosters its creative and practical thinkers who are looking to make sustainable living an affordable reality.
  • Posted by user627230 January 13, 2014 at 20:20

    Brilliant. About time. Over to you and your team, George ≠ the SNUG folk and all who sail in her.

  • Posted by user908349 January 13, 2014 at 22:16

    This is a great idea

    It also opens up affordable housing for clusters of people who may want to live close to like minded people in special interest communities. There are lots of examples worldwide where this has worked brilliantly.

    One example is in the recovery community, where people in recovery from trauma or specific illnesses can support one another through mutual aid and close proximity.

    But it also applies to artistic, creative or experimental community projects and faith groups, which can add so much to the cultural and spiritual life of the city. Modern life is too atomized!

    Jon Long
  • Posted by user257621 January 14, 2014 at 08:39

    Great idea SNUG - lets get it moving on some demonstration sites.
  • Posted by user251846 January 15, 2014 at 13:58

    Do we really want the city to look like a cross between a hippy commune and a shanty town? I suspect those promoting/supporting this idea have little or no experience of housing development and finance.
  • Posted by user358767 January 16, 2014 at 12:13

    Sounds great, I have experience of actually doing this and as an ex-Bristol resident (because I could not get a home) it would be a great way for me to return to the city. I am ready to get started today! Where do I sign, can I start building to morrow? regards Paul
  • Posted by user688183 January 16, 2014 at 12:48

    Thanks Palmerstonian for your thoughts. Interestingly those supporting the idea are architects, quantity surveyors, builders, carpenters, etc as well as those who have been disempowered by the current model of housing delivery.

    Not sure what you mean by hippy commune. The only communes I have seen are where people have a shared ownership of a large building, often beautiful historic buildings, or buildings in wealthy parts of the city where its generally too expensive for many people to own a home individually. I'm presuming you are not opposed to the beautiful architecture that we see across areas such as Clifton.

    Thank you for mentioning shanty towns, as I'm sure you well know, that shanty towns grow in places where there are increasing numbers of disadvantaged people who have no other means of shelter. Quite often in cities where there is a large wealth divide. I'm not sure if you have ideas of how you deal with people who are stuck in shanty towns, as I expect they don't want to be there either. But they certainly can't be swept under the carpet.

    Maybe it is exactly ideas like ours that empower people to create their own home with a low budget with support by professionals in the housing sector, that reduce the likely hood in the future of shanty towns arising.

    Happy to discuss more with you, as these are important considerations if we are to address housing need, shelter and collective wellbeing of the city.
  • Posted by user356171 January 17, 2014 at 18:33

    Excellent idea - thank you Jackson.
    We need to build real homes, not financial assets and construction company profits, and this is a great way to do it. The more involvement from the home-dweller, the better, from so many angles (community, psychology, practicality...). George - please work with BCLT to progress this.
  • Posted by user696056 January 17, 2014 at 22:33

    Brilliant absolutely brilliant idea. I can't wait to get involved - I'd love to help people build affordable homes- that remain affordable- in areas in town which are already built up as opposed to building on prime agricultural land.
  • Posted by user696056 January 17, 2014 at 23:05

    As part of this "tiny & affordable homes scheme" that will provide more local jobs, training, affordable homes etc....there is another fabulous opportunity here to really explore properties which could support a second or third home in the garden. Infill housing.

    Infill housing can provide a first home to young adults who can't really afford their own home in the current market, and infill housing can provide a last home to elderly relatives who can, by living "next door" remain in their own homes, retain their independence and there in better health.
    Infill housing provides more revenue to the council and can help fund & justify more public transit such as trams
  • Posted by user353616 January 19, 2014 at 12:06

    I love the idea. What about getting bird boxes incorporated into designs. Poor little sparrows have no where to go now that roofs are insulated against them.
  • Posted by user177669 January 22, 2014 at 11:54

    Great idea! BCC should support these kind of developments through the planning process. And these sort of low impact affordable buildings could also be used by not-for-profits that are operating out of run down dilapidated buildings.
  • Posted by user570370 January 22, 2014 at 16:21

    I've seen similar ventures work so well in other places, I think Bristol is prime for this. fantastic idea. I'm all for it. there are many brown sites around town that would serve very well. good affordable housing is in dire need here. The Self Build in St Werburghs is a great mixture, it shows a huge range of affordability, styles and sizes of dwellings. I'd like to see this happen is less well off areas (now we've been a bit gentrified like) and give more people a chance to get started.
  • Posted by user886108 January 23, 2014 at 09:32

    I am absolutely interested in having such a sustainable home and would love to be part of such a growing community.I do hope to see this materialize.
  • Posted by user101734 January 23, 2014 at 16:25

    This project seems to be aiming to alleviate two huge and growing issues by creating jobs and providing affordable accomodation. the council would do well to support this to help make the Bristol Community more resilient. With benefits being cut by so much, people could do with opportunities to help themselves. Great Idea!
  • Posted by user575799 January 24, 2014 at 14:54

    Wonderful concept I hope it happens.
  • Posted by user232385 January 25, 2014 at 09:00

    Great idea. Affordable and resource clever housing is needed in Bristol.
  • Posted by user503536 January 27, 2014 at 15:19

    Brilliant concept! I would love to see this happening in and around Bristol, especially with the Green Capital coming up. Let's make Bristol an example to the world!
  • Posted by user876554 January 27, 2014 at 19:06

    Amazing, please let this happen either way. Let Bristol be at the forefront of small spaces that are cheap to run. Learning skills alone the way.

  • Posted by user964588 January 27, 2014 at 20:11

    Bristol should have a thriving self build scene - it has the people who want to do it and plenty of brown field sites to do it on. But at the moment the city really doesn't seem to be delivering very many self build homes.

    This would be a great way to get things moving - great idea!
  • Posted by user703421 January 28, 2014 at 08:49

    I think this is brilliant- let Bristol lead the way!
  • Posted by user434081 January 28, 2014 at 09:34

    This is my favourite concept here. There are so many people in need around Bristol of projects like this.

    And it's high time for something new following the groundwork of projects like those in st werbs.
  • Posted by user590599 January 28, 2014 at 09:46

    Great idea, living in the boating community, I completely agree in the positive outcome of living in an affordable home, not massive but manageable and being part of a community.
    Very interested to hear how this will progress. Affordable housing has made it possible to follow a career I enjoy and thrive at rather than a serious of dead end jobs to pay the rent. Everyone should have that opportunity.
  • Posted by user155385 January 28, 2014 at 10:49

    Let us see the mayor and Bristol City Council working with an idea like this which could benefit some of the people of Bristol who don't usually get an opportunity to share in the wealth of this city.

    As I walk and cycle around Bristol, I see large brown field sites which are unused, and have been for years. Why don't our democratically elected representatives, including the mayor, address this issue?

    When are property developers, who sit on land just to make money, going to be charged significant local taxes?
  • Posted by user784399 January 31, 2014 at 21:58

    Personally i'm extremely interested in this idea. There is a massive need for more (or any) affordable housing. This idea sounds like it has the potential to evolve into something great, that has a multitude of potential benefits. I would love to know more details and to get involved in the progression of the concept.
  • Posted by user688183 January 31, 2014 at 21:58

    If anyone reading this is interested in being part of a SNUG homes project, we have just set up a place you can leave your details.

    If SNUG homes becomes something that people of Bristol would like, then we can get in touch with you. Whether you want to help make it happen, or whether you would like to create your own SNUG home.

  • Posted by user322593 February 02, 2014 at 22:18

    Bristol is the only city I know of where everyone who lives, or has lived, here absoloutely loves it and is proud to be part of the wider Bristol communities! Snug homes will work here!
  • Posted by user903251 February 04, 2014 at 17:40

    Great idea and something that could really take off.

    I'd be keen to be involved. I'm currently trying to find land for an eco self build however affordable plots just don't exist. Private sellers get PP and prices shoot up. Larger plots seem to go straight to large developers. If there was land available more of us would be doing it.

    There are many "small houses" available with houses being split into flats everywhere, and those willing to live in "tiny houses" would happily live in converted vehicles if they were allowed to park anywhere. Self build would be a great way to create environmentally friendly, comfortable (as opposed to shoe-box)communities, if plots could be released.
  • Posted by user197090 February 05, 2014 at 15:21

    I really like this idea. Could it be incorporated into the new arena site?
  • Posted by user506374 February 10, 2014 at 11:26

    Have been talking to the folks behind this project recently and it's certainly of interest to both me and my partner; the oppurtunity to be involved with a whole group of people with a similar aim to creating this kind of housing would be a great benefit rather than going it alone.

    With the increasing impossibility of some people to buy existing houses and with those houses already in existence at many times not being what people are looking for this is certainly a good one!

    Looks like a project of that may be of interest to architectual mayor's as well!
  • Posted by user842086 February 10, 2014 at 11:56

    I love the idea, it would be great to make better use of all the currently vacant places in Bristol and support community living at the same time.
    How could the council not help by providing some land?
  • Posted by user488185 February 12, 2014 at 11:31

    Bristol is a great place to live, but there's so much more it can do. By pursuing great sustainable innovations like this, we can lead the rest of the UK - and the world - towards a vision of what sustainable, happy, resilient cities look like.

    Let's make this happen!
  • Posted by user686504 February 12, 2014 at 13:50

    Great idea, it's time we changed corporate monopoly on building our homes and our communities motivated only by profit.
  • Posted by user289450 February 13, 2014 at 10:59

    This would be a great idea providing peaple are still able to access the materials and relevant funds> many peaple including myself,who at the age of 37 with 3 children in full time work for the council,still do not have enough money to put down a deposit for private rent let alone biulding a new house,and unless the council can provide the initiative and means to all of those in the same situation as myself and my family, this will never happen, the idea is e really good one, but in reality it is not going to happen. But i wish with all my heart that it could.
  • Posted by user456787 February 18, 2014 at 13:04

    Wow, what a great initiative and just what the UK needs to help the progression of it's self-build sector.

    As has been widely reported there are numerous advantages of self-built over developer-built homes:
    - lower overall costs
    - more suitable housing
    - stronger communities
    - greater understanding of functioning and maintenance of the home
    - control of future running and maintenance costs
    - and plenty more...

    The UK is far behind the rest of Europe in the percentage of new builds which are self or custom built every year - around 7-11% compared with 80%, 65% and 60% in Austria, Sweden and France respectively. Whilst we can learn a lot from these countries we can't simply copy their laws and regulations - we need to build our own body of knowledge and shape our own policies. I strongly believe that we need initiatives like SNUG Homes to help facilitate this and open the opportunities to everyone.

    There are so many positive benefits that I can see, I'll attempt to outline some of the most pertinent in addition to the insightful and supportive comments above:

    > UK planning policy has been heavily moulded by the long-term predominance of volume house building. In recent years central government has recognised the importance of supporting the thousands of people wanting to build their own homes with new legislation, the release of surplus public sector development land, and £millions of funding and starter loans. However, planning policy still has some very high barriers of entry for most self builders that cause additional complications and introduce artificially high costs. SNUG Homes could be a way of bridging that divide, helping both the individual and council to streamline the process whilst building a body of knowledge to inform future self-builders and allow everyone access to affordable housing.

    > There is a lack of diversity of housing in most areas of Bristol. Many areas have predominantly medium and large family houses with very little provision for singles and couples forcing people to share high cost rental houses until their household grows, stay in homes larger than their needs when their household shrinks or move to different parts of the city to find appropriate housing and have to commute. All of which increase costs and reduce community cohesion. Building SNUG Homes could allow people to stay in an area longer, creating greater ties and stronger communities whilst reducing congestion and pollution. This could be particularly important for key-workers (teachers, nurses, etc).

    > With housing being provided as a service, houses have become a commodity. This has led to a loss in the general understanding of the workings of the homes around us which often causes disinterest and disconnection or increases anxiety. By informing people how their homes are built and function, SNUG Homes could empower people to make better, more informed decisions on how to run and manage their households. People also tend to be more connected and have a greater care for something that they have produced themselves.

    There are many factors that make Bristol an ideal candidate to pioneer this type of initiative:

    > a sufficiently large population to provide a suitable level of early adopters supported by a single council which eases implementation.

    > a variety of wards with localised centres, many of which have fairly uniform housing stock lacking in diversity.

    > a history of innovative projects especially in the sustainability and community sectors (Ashley Vale "The Yard" Self-Build Project, Playing Out, Home Zones, Sustrans).

    > a hub for the south-west, influencing smaller towns in the region, whilst being able to incorporate ideas from other local centres (e.g. Stroud co-housing).

    > a culturally diverse population that may utilise and implement such a scheme in a varied and innovative manner.

    > an array of brown-field and small ex-industrial sites that may not be suitable for large-scale developer projects often dotted amongst existing residential areas.

    Whilst proposals like the 1,000 custom build homes at Hengrove Park (http://www.selfbuildportal.[…]tiative-planned-for-bristol) are welcome news, in my mind, they do not provide anywhere near the same benefits as an initiative like SNUG Homes.

    I truly feel that SNUG Homes would be a great asset to Bristol and a torch-bearer for the rest of the UK. George, I hope you see this too!
  • Posted by user688183 February 24, 2014 at 17:44

    Nice one Steph, what a great comment. Give me an email on
  • Posted by user887952 March 18, 2014 at 16:00

    yes, please, but what and when will anything happen with these ideas?
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