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Changing Rooms: How the design of homes is changing, post-pandemic

September 21

4 min read

Over the last 18 months our homes have become our offices, schools, gyms and more! As such, the demand for a study and outside  space is now more important to a buyer than a second or third bedroom. With this change in consumer demand, housebuilders have had to adjust their thinking and SME developers are agile enough to meet these demands and respond to trends effectively.

In a recent survey of first-time buyers in England (by Share to Buy and housing association Peabody), 64% stated that having a private garden has grown in importance to them since the start of the pandemic, and 50% said having space at home to work is now more important. We have seen our clients adapting to these changes already, with Midlands based SME housebuilder Fairgrove Developments acknowledging their buyers are looking for something different in this brave new “post-pandemic” world and they pride themselves on building bespoke homes based on unique specifications, and not mass production.

We have been supporting Fairgrove Developments for the last three years and are funding The Brewery Yard in Kimberley (image above). These homes in Nottingham offer both outdoor space, office spaces and easy access into London. The development has already sold nearly 100 units in four years. Steve Midgley, Managing Director of Fairgrove and former Midlands Chairman at the Home Builder’s Federation (HBF), set up the business 26 years ago comments: “There is definitely a shift in public demand back to family homes. During the pandemic we noticed a surge in demand for space and in particular outside space. Buyers often want two studies and larger gardens, so we are changing the design of our new developments to make allowance for these requirements.

The niche part of our developments comes down to customisation and the choice we offer our buyers, with bronze, silver, gold and platinum specifications.” “With London just an hour and a half on the train from East Midlands Parkway, we are also seeing a number of buyers coming from further afield, as they can afford a large, detached home where they can work (and play), instead of a small flat in the Capital.” It is not just the pandemic which is impacting the design of new homes though. With climate change at the top of the political agenda and the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow, sustainability and innovation in the homes we build has never been more important.

At Fairgrove, building in an environmental way has long been top of their agenda. Steve Midgley continues: “We ensure all of the properties we build meet or exceed sustainability targets through good quality design and installation – without having to install a solar panel. It’s important to get the foundations right to make sure it is built and designed well, so the buyer receives the maximum enjoyment and comfort from their home. There is definitely work to be done, in terms of communicating the technology to homeowners. For example, because of the extensive insulation and the materials used, some rooms in the homes we build simply don’t need a radiator, but buyers would often question this, because that is what they are used to.”

At Close Brothers, we are currently funding the development of more than 7,200 new homes across the UK which equates to 10% of the number of all private homes built in 2020. We are flexible when it comes to the type of schemes we fund, from city centre apartments and student accommodation through to luxury family homes in rural locations. We are proud to support local, regional housebuilders such as Fairgrove Developments, and have continued to lend throughout the pandemic and three national lockdowns. Our existing clients can rely on us to provide the funds to build homes and create new and inspiring communities across the UK.

To hear about how we can support your next development, speak to Andrew Porter on 0203 857 6308.

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