I have long been frustrated with mediocrity of the UK’s new build housing, but also see that mediocrity and monotony as an opportunity - especially as apparently the majority of the population don’t even consider new build when moving house. These sorts of views depress me…
New build housing tends to be uninspiring, pastiche in design and often, a very poor copy of traditional houses with low ceilings, small windows, little character and tiny rooms you can’t alter! Above all they are usually small; so small most house builders don’t even tell you the true sq ft! I often wonder why other consumer laws don’t appear to apply in property - when you buy a tin of beans the law requires the makers to tell you the exact contents by weight - but then you spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on a house and no one has to tell you exactly the size of what you are buying..!
We have been thinking for years now about how we can break the mould, inject some new ideas and disrupt the house building industry - just as we did when we helped create the city centre living boom and loft apartment trend in the 1990’s.
So we’re about to introduce to the market hoUSe, our housing scheme that’s drawn inspiration from the great English Victorian and Georgian terrace streets of the past.
The reason for developing this kind of house was that we noticed many of our customers who had bought and enjoyed Urban Splash flats, would ultimately get older, richer (have babies!) and therefore end up moving to Victorian and Georgian houses in the suburbs. Once in there, most of them then strip out the internal walls and put in contemporary bathrooms and kitchens. So it’s long begged me to ask why there are no new build equivalents? And why is there nothing in the City Centre?
We wanted to make houses with great space standards; high ceilings, big windows and we wanted to give customers the ability to alter and change the layouts both initially when they buy so they can specify the exact house they want - or if they are on a budget the option to buy a “base model” now and over time improve and adapt.
So here is our idea…
First, we ask customers to decide what they want. Do they want a 1,000 sq ft home over two storeys, or a 1,500 sq ft home over three storeys.
Then, customers can decide if they’re a loft liver - where their living room will be on the top floor with an exposed pitched roof - or if they prefer garden living; homes that come with a more conventional living room on the ground floor with a relationship to the garden.
We then ask customers to pick from a whole series of floorplans for each floor
They’ll then choose the add-ons such as; size and type of kitchen, floor finishes - be they timber or carpet… Or extras such as utility rooms and home offices.
So what does it look like when it comes together? Here is one we built earlier (as they say on Blue Peter)
Eventually, we want to build hoUSes all over the country, but the first site for now is in New Islington near Manchester city centre, a few hundred meters from Piccadilly and the Northern Quarter (which Urban Splash helped develop). The homes are right next to the Cotton Field Park, the New Islington Metrolink stop, Marina and the New Islington Free School (sponsored by Urban Splash, Manchester City Council and The Manchester Grammar School).
The hoUSes don’t just look good, they are practical and each has a small garden and car parking space, loads of storage, electric PV on the roof as well as solar thermal water heating.
I am as excited by hoUSe as I was by our first lofts over 20 years ago. At prices less per sq foot than city centre flats, lower maintenance costs than old Victorian houses or blocks of flats, and available with Help To Buy, I am hoping these will be a great success and be a big part of Urban Splash’s future – and maybe yours too..? If you want to know more, register now or get in touch with our agents Julie Twist Properties.