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Home ownership

Buying or building your own home is a complex process and it is essential that you take advice from the appropriate professionals at each stage of the process.

There are Housing Associations that build properties for Shared Ownership. Shared Equity options may also be available. It is important to remember there are criteria to meet for both schemes. In order to find out more regarding these schemes and also what may be available in Argyll & Bute we suggest that you contact HOMEArgyll partners:-

  • ACHA – tel no. 01546 604 086
  • Dunbritton Housing Association – tel no. 01389 761 486
  • Fyne Homes – tel no. 0845 607 7117
  • West Highland Housing Association - tel no. 01631 566 451

Guidance on buying a house, including information on finding a mortgage is available here.

Shared ownership

Shared ownership schemes aim to help people who are otherwise unable to buy a suitable home to become home owners. Through a shared ownership scheme, you can buy a 25 per cent, 50 per cent or 75 per cent share in a house or flat owned by the housing association, usually in a new-build development. You'll then pay a reduced 'rent', called an Occupancy Charge, for the part of the home that you don't own. The total monthly cost of your mortgage repayments and occupancy payment should come to less than the repayments on a mortgage for the whole property. An Occupancy Charge does not include a cost for repairs to your property and like other homeowners you will be responsible for all internal and external repairs for your property and ongoing maintenance costs.

After the first year, you will have the option to purchase further shares (although you don't have to) until eventually you own the whole home outright.

Different housing associations have different application criteria and priorities when allocating properties. For example, some housing associations may only offer shared ownership properties to families or disabled people. Before you apply to a housing association for a shared ownership property, make sure you understand how their system works.

Shared Equity

This refers to LIFT scheme (Low-cost Initiative for First Time Buyers). This is funded by the Scottish Government to help people on low incomes who wish to own their home but can’t afford to pay the full price for a house.

There are three groups:


Crofters grants are only available in crofting areas. In the Highlands this comprises the former crofting ‘counties’ of Argyll, Inverness, Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland and Caithness. The crofting counties do not cover all of the Highlands.

General information about the Croft House Grant Scheme can also be obtained from the Crofting Commission website.


Throughout Argyll and Bute, some land has been officially designated as Croft Land – under the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993.

If you want to purchase a house which is on Croft land, but don’t want to maintain it as a croft, you need to apply to have the land de-crofted. The same applies if you want to build a new house on Croft land.

When buying an existing property in a rural crofting area, it is important to establish whether the property was decrofted. Some are now subject to compensation claims where this did not take place so it is very important that your solicitor establishes the status of the land in question prior to you purchasing it.

Building a house

Another option is to build your own home. This section provides detailed information on some of the issues which you need to think about:

Acquiring a site

Opportunities for individual private house building occur across the whole of Argyll & Bute. However, there can be significant competition for suitable available land. This can mean that sites are highly priced.

Estate Agents and Property Solicitors can often give advice on where you are likely to find a site to meet your budget. Sites which are available for sale are often advertised in the same places as houses for sale - local newspapers, the Solicitors’ Property Centre, estate agents, solicitors and possibly in the Council itself.

Local knowledge can be a considerable asset in finding and purchasing suitable sites on which to build.

Some building plots will have outline planning consent for housing, some will be serviced with water, electricity and gas, some will have neither planning consent nor services. Do not purchase until, at the very least, outline planning consent has been obtained and you are aware of the costs you may incur providing services to the site if they are not already on site.

Conditions imposed on a planning permission may restrict your options (eg restrictions on the type or size of housing you can build) or influence your budget (eg whether traditional design features are required) and you are therefore advised to inspect the planning permission. This is available from the selling agent or the Area Planning Office.

Planning Permission

Before you can begin to build your house you will need to obtain detailed planning permission.

Once you have chosen a site, it is advisable to discuss your proposals with a Planning Officer in Argyll and Bute Council or Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority as appropriate. This should happen before you draw up detailed plans.

Planning officials are more than happy to help anyone who is thinking of building a house with specific advice on the requirements of the planning system and more general advice on other aspects of the building process.

The Planning Officer will be able to outline the procedure for obtaining planning permission, fees involved, give guidance on whether you are likely to be successful in obtaining permission, and on design issues that should be incorporated into your proposal.

Failure to consult with the Planning Authority at an early stage can lead to delays and additional costs.

Argyll and Bute Council and the National Park Authority have plans which set out how they aim to see housing develop in the area. Some areas have been chosen as places where there is ‘presumption in favour’ of new house development. This means it can be easier to get planning permission. Out with these areas you may only get planning permission in exceptional circumstances.

Building Warrant

A Building Warrant is required before work can be started on a new house.

Building Control staff in the Council’s Development & Environment Services Department can help to outline the procedure for obtaining a building warrant.

Getting professional advice

Building a house can be a complex process, and it is important that you get professional advice, including:

Legal Advice

Legal advice should be sought from a qualified solicitor.

Architectural Advice

If you are intending to design and build your house, advice from a qualified Architect can be of assistance. Many manufacturers of “kit houses” will offer Architectural services as part of the purchase price and can often provide a choice of house designs that can be readily adapted before construction.

A list of qualified Architects can be found at the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.

Advice from a Chartered Surveyor/ Valuer

Advice from a Charter Surveyor can help identify ground and building conditions, future maintenance costs and safety issues. Many lenders will also require that you have a valuation of the property produced by an approved valuer.

Advice on appointing a builder

If you are employing a building contractor to build your house for you, the Chartered Institute of Builders recommend that you make a few checks before you start the build process. These include, looking at examples of the builders work, checking they show a clear address and telephone number (not just a mobile) on their invoices, checking out their insurance cover, whether they are VAT registered and whether they will provide a contract or guarantee for the job.

Remember, you can speak to your local trading standards office to see whether any complaints have been made to them about the builder you are considering.