Yorkshire Post - Property
New homes in rural idyll built with girl power
FEMALE developers are still very much in a minority, which is why 26-year-old Olivia Mitchell is causing a stir with her first project.
Birch Hall Close in the small town of Earby, near Skipton, is well under way and consists of six detached houses in an idyllic enclave with views over the surrounding countryside.
Olivia’s journey into home building began after she decided on a career change.
“I worked for British Airways in Manchester but commuting there from home near Harrogate was a struggle so I decided to look for something else.”
She didn’t have to look far as her dad offered her a job as a buyer for his construction firm, New Lodge Contractors, which specialises in restoration projects, groundworks and high spec. new builds for developers and individuals.
“I started working for my dad as a buyer in 2017 so I was sourcing and buying materials and making sure they were in the quantities needed and at the right price.
“The knowledge I gained doing that has been invaluable with my own development project,” says Olivia, whose initial plan was to buy, renovate and sell existing homes until a financial backer came forward and suggested she try her hand at niche house building.
As a result, her company, Pretty Perfect Properties, was born.
She found the site, which had planning permission, worked with an architect to design it, sourced materials and oversees the development. She also has the significant advantage of having her dad’s renowned construction team on board to build and fit out the properties.
None of the houses are the same and says Olivia: “I spent time planning the design and layouts because I didn’t want them to be identikit boxes. I want them to look and feel bespoke and I want them to have character.
“All the staircases are oak as standard and I have also tried to think everything through from where to put plug sockets and making sure there are plenty of them to using bathroom tiles that are contemporary but won’t date.”
She chose Earby after searching for development land for sale and says: “I used to pass through Earby when on my way to work from where I live near Harrogate to my previous job in Manchester, so all I had seen was the main road that runs through it.
“When I went to view this plot I was blown away by the top end of the town.
“It is a hidden gem with beautiful rural views. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was perfect for my first development.”
The energy efficient four bedroom homes, which have a high B on their EPC, are built with SIPs panels and clad in natural stone and come with a 10 year warranty. They are on the market with Linley and Simpson’s New Homes team and are priced from £550,000.
Linley and Simpson marketing manager Lucy Collinge says: “While these are family size houses, there has been interest from couples who work from home and need more space and from those downsizing from larger homes.”