Posted on: 7th May 2019

With the demand for quality rising, it is increasingly hard to stand out as a developer, but housebuilders can use timber to break out of the new development ‘white box.’

The market is not short of develop
ments of neat, new build homes where every single one is almost
 identical to its neighbour.  But what if the 
houses you are building are not like any 
others in the area?  Where does that place
 your development in the market?  Character 
and charm have their own value and
 present buyers with a choice that rivals
 what is already on the market.

Developers and housebuilders who are
 embracing this trend for sustainability,
 natural materials, craftsmanship and
 innovation are now cleaning up in the new
 build market.  They are actively being sort 
out by home buyers who are specifically 
wanting a home with features that make 
their home feel bespoke, pioneering and 
essentially, just different.

This set of
 inspired developers are selling houses
 faster than their competitors, without
 having to go into a war on price.
  With the current awareness of the
 environment and sustainability, as well as
 the healthy homes trend which is showing
 no signs of slowing down, people are
 increasingly interested in trying to
 incorporate natural materials into their
 homes as well as supporting traditional
 British craftsmanship.

Introducing a timber frame such as oak, 
Douglas fir or glulam into your build 
creates high-value features such as vaulted
 ceilings, exposed beams and handmade pegs all adding to the sale 
value.  These features will appeal to a
 market of people who want to buy quality, traditional homes, but with all the benefits
 of a new build.

Because the frame is encapsulated in a
 shell containing high R-value insulation
 and an airtight membrane, the exterior of 
the building will conform to or even exceed 
most planning considerations.  It also means
 you’ll deliver an efficient home.  That said,
 it is key to make the figures stack up and
 part of that is working with a framing
 company who understand the commercial
 pressures on a development and are able to support your marketing activity with collat
eral that educates the house buyer on the product.

Something many forward thinking and commercially savvy developers are consid
ering is that you can raise the attractiveness and value of an entire development by
 having a number of select oak framed
 featured properties within the mix of
 housing.  They are also introducing timber
 features such as walkways, arches, seating
 and play areas into the public space.

An excellent example of how this has worked well is the Accordia housing development in Cambridge – the first residential project to win the RIBA Stirling prize.  Accordia offers urban living in a variety of innovative houses and apart
ments with a balance of timber features in both private and public spaces.  Traditional
 gardens are replaced with open spaces such 
as courtyards, roof terraces and large 
balconies, each enhanced with the beauty
 of quality natural materials.  This example shows it possible to create
 high-density housing and demonstrates 
that volume housebuilders can deliver
 high-quality architecture and really set
 themselves apart from the competition.

Practically speaking, what are the other 
advantages of a structural timber frame?  
Modern methods of construction mean that
 over 80% of the construction 
happens offsite, so the overall time onsite is minimal.  Timber construction is also cost-
effective, efficient, sustainable and highly desirable, making it a serious competitor.
  If you choose a company who hand-make
 the timber structural frames (as we do), then you can not only blend timber with any contempo
rary materials you desire such as glass or steel, but also choose almost any wrap or 
exterior finishing method that works for 
your site.  Your build then becomes highly
 flexible, cost-effective and responsive to 
planning requirements, not to mention
 customisable to the needs of your site and 
buyers.

In 2018, we teamed up with a local landowner in Devon to offer five prime plots in Kingsteignton that are now on their way to becoming custom build oak framed homes with outstanding views across the surrounding countryside towards Dartmoor.  Find out more about the development.

Timber has come a long way since medieval barns and now is the time for the next phase of
 developers to step out of the shadow of the
 millions of white boxes and respond to the
 market demand for new builds with a soul.
  The only question is will you also break out
 of the white box to join the few inspired 
industry pioneers?

Contact us to talk about your project
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