Buy­ers are de­mand­ing more from new-build pur­chases

Smaller de­vel­op­ers of­ten lead the way. Sharon Dale talks to three about how the new-build sec­tor is giv­ing buy­ers more choice.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

WHILE mass mar­ket builders are con­strained by share­hold­ers, tried and tested de­signs and lay­ers of man­age­ment, smaller de­vel­op­ers have the freedom to do what they like as long as they turn a profit.

They are the in­no­va­tors who test ma­te­ri­als, pi­o­neer new tech­nol­ogy and push ar­chi­tec­tural bound­aries. They also have a closer re­la­tion­ship with clients.

The last ten years in York­shire has seen some stun­ning ex­am­ples of their work, like the Pas­siv Haus in Denby Dale by the Green Build­ing Com­pany, one of the most en­ergy ef­fi­cient homes in Bri­tain; a whole eco-friendly apart­ment block in Leeds by CITU and a host of strik­ingly con­tem­po­rary properties.

The re­ces­sion, how­ever, has made buy­ers more cau­tious and de­mand­ing. Over in Hud­der­s­field, ar­chi­tects One 17 are us­ing clever de­sign to se­duce them.

Mark Lee of the com­pany’s spec­u­la­tive de­vel­op­ment arm, One 17 Res­i­den­tial, says the qual­ity of the space in­side is what mat­ters.

“What we are try­ing to do is to bring ar­chi­tec­ture in and make the projects more de­sign led rather than com­pletely cost led. We’ve found peo­ple gen­er­ally want a more con­ven­tional ex­te­rior and a mod­ern in­te­rior. If the in­te­rior is in­ter­est­ing, well de­signed and feels good and it ex­cites peo­ple. We tend to use a lot of in­ter­nal win­dows and we have open­ings be­tween one room and an­other then you have a vis­ual link rather lots of lit­tle boxes. You get more light and a greater sense of space and that higher level of de­sign is like a breath of fresh air com­pared to a con­ven­tional new-build.”

Smart home tech­nol­ogy, like re­mote con­trol cur­tains and in­te­grated sound sys­tems, is now the norm in high end new homes and is of­fered as an ex­tras in oth­ers, where around half of buy­ers are happy to pay at least £10,000 for the plea­sure

An­other dis­tinct change over the last five years is that peo­ple want to see what they’re buy­ing and rarely pur­chase off-plan.

Ilk­ley-based de­vel­oper Melvyn Lil­ley says: “Peo­ple are a lot more cau­tious and want to see the fin­ished prod­uct be­fore they com­mit. I’ve just done a prop­erty in Cot­tin­g­ley and no-one was in­ter­ested un­til we had built it.”

Melvyn, who has been in the busi­ness for 45 years, is also cau­tious about build­ing any­thing that looks too avant-garde af­ter strug­gling to sell a house in Ben Rhy­d­ding, Ilk­ley, two years ago.

“The road had house types from dif­fer­ent eras and so the plan­ners wanted me to build some­thing that rep­re­sented the 21st cen­tury. I did but I strug­gled to sell it and I ended up tak­ing £800,000, which was £200,000 be­low mar­ket value. I think most buy­ers want a prop­erty that looks tra­di­tional from the out­side but they also want char­ac­ter. They don’t want a bor­ing box.”

Melvyn al­ways con­sults lo­cal es­tate agent Dacre, Son and Hart­ley to see what the mar­ket wants be­fore build­ing any­thing.

“I ask what they are short of. In Guise­ley, it’s three-bed semis, whereas in Bail­don it’s twobed­room detached houses for down­siz­ers. No-one wants three­storey townhouses be­cause go­ing up and down all those stairs is hard work. Ev­ery­one wants a down­stairs toi­let and an en-suite in the main bed­room.”

In­spired by Grand De­signs, they are in­creas­ingly ask­ing for a big say in the lay­out and in­te­rior de­sign.

Peter Zam­mitt, of Zam­mitt Homes, is at the lux­ury end of de­vel­op­ing and has taken client in­volve­ment to a new level at his Ful­with Mill Drive site in Har­ro­gate. He is al­low­ing buy­ers to “bespoke” the five detached properties, which start at £1.5 mil­lion, so they can choose ev­ery­thing from the lay­out to the win­dows.

“I am build­ing two to show prospec­tive buy­ers the qual­ity of what we pro­duce and it’s been use­ful talk­ing to them be­cause they told us that they didn’t want seven bed­rooms, they want five very big ones in­stead,” he says.

Buy­ers are also start­ing to ask about square footage.

“In gen­eral you get more square footage for your money if you buy sec­ond hand and less if you buy new. That’s be­cause new is a more ex­pen­sive prod­uct. In Har­ro­gate, good sec­ond-hand properties fetch in the high £300’s and even over £400 per square foot, which is why I am un­der­cut­ting that,” says Peter. “Peo­ple are much more as­tute about value for money.”

At the £1 mil­lion plus end of the mar­ket, they are also in­ter­ested in en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, which is why the Zam­mitt homes will have zero heat­ing bills, achieved through high lev­els of in­su­la­tion, so­lar panels, low emis­siv­ity glass and govern­ment feed-in tar­rifs.

“In a large house peo­ple are pay­ing £11,000 a year in fuel bills. Why wouldn’t they be in­ter­ested in re­duc­ing that and spend­ing the money on a lux­ury hol­i­day?” says Peter. “You are do­ing your bit for the en­vi­ron­ment and the low en­ergy costs will in­crease the re-sale value of the house.”

www.one17de­sign.com; Zam­mitt Homes Ful­with Mill de­vel­op­ment con­tact Bead­nall and Co­p­ley, tel: 01423 503500, www.bead­nall­cop­ley.co.uk; Melvyn Lil­ley de­vel­op­ments tel: 01943 885404,www.dacres.co.uk

TIME WARP: The Hol­lies, con­verted by the Vic­to­ri­ans from a row of Ge­or­gian cot­tages, has had a makeover in­side and out. Owner Ca­role John­son has cre­ated a se­ries of out­door rooms in the half-acre grounds in­clud­ing a folly ruin, known as the Abbey, which in­cor­po­rates an open fire and bar­be­cue.

PER­SONAL TOUCH: One of the properties be­ing de­vel­oped by Peter Zam­mitt. Clients are able to ‘bespoke’ the homes to their spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

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