One-on-One interview: Bev Hall of St. Modwen Homes
After a short break, Marc Da Silva re-commences his series of head-to-head interviews with some of the biggest names in housebuilding by posing the questions to Bev Hall, sales and marketing director of St Modwen Homes.
What regions do you cover? We offer properties in the Midlands and South West of the country.
What are housing market conditions currently like in those areas? Market conditions are picking up considerably in both areas with high visitor levels across all our developments. Help to Buy is making a substantial difference to buyer optimism and many people are visiting with their sights set on buying in the near future, rather than tentatively taking a price list and hurrying out of there.
What types of properties is your firm developing? We mainly offer selections of three-, four- and five-bedroom family homes, but each development is uniquely designed so features differ, from full-height windows to show panoramic views at our development near the Cotswolds, to wooden-effect panelling in our woodlands development in the National Forest.
What projects are St. Modwen Homes working on and what is in the development pipeline? In the South West, we're currently working on a large mixed-use scheme just outside Weston-super-Mare, called Locking Parklands, and a hillside development in Dursley, Gloucestershire, overlooking the Cotswolds Edge.
Our Midlands developments are Edison Place in the centre of Rugby, Woodlands Reach in the village of Ravenstone, Leicestershire, and Gregorys Bank, on border of the Birmingham and Worcestershire canal in Worcester.
How much does a new home by St. Modwen Homes typically cost to buy? Our homes range from £167,500 for a two-bedroom starter home to £415,950 for a three-storey, five-bedroom home.
Why should more buyers consider buying a new-build home as opposed to older property? For some buyers, the reasons are obvious. One very important reason is that methods of insulation are so advanced, our customers are often remarking on how cheaply and easily their new home heats, and with electricity bills rising there's a real saving to be made by ‘going new'. Not only that, people can spend thousands upgrading their home to make it their own, whereas a new-build is a blank canvas as well as very low-maintenance thereafter!
I think it's worth mentioning that ‘going new' doesn't always mean getting an off-the-shelf mass produced ‘boxy' home. Our homes have higher-than-average ceilings and often benefit from a side garage, going back to traditional values so you can have the best of both worlds.
Is it worth buying property during the off-plan stage of construction? If you aren't desperate to move quickly, buying off-plan has some clear advantages. You can make choices in specification and colour, which style your home to your own taste, and give you the opportunity to start the design afresh. You can visit your property at various stages too, which makes the experience a truly exciting time.
What is St Modwen's USP? We take a ‘design-led' approach, which means we focus our efforts on designing the best features of a home that give the best value to the end user, rather than focussing on keeping costs down. This is why we build our ceilings higher and fit windows that are larger, to let in loads of light, making it a much more desirable living space. We also add in special features like balconies from the master bedroom, or vaulted ceilings in the hallway.
It's nice to see we've been rewarded for our efforts, as we won a What House? award for our flagship development Locking Parklands in 2012 for Best Development.
Which of the developments St Modwen Homes is currently developing do you think stands the best chance of winning a What House? Award? Our Littlecombe development never fails to impress, as the homes are designed in a contemporary and clean style with a mix of off-white render and beige stone, to really stand out along the Cotswolds edge, and many homes take full advantage of the hillside location with stunning views.
On the other end of the scale, our Woodlands Reach development is a collection of fresh, organic-looking homes with feature bay windows, wooden-effect panelling, and PV panels making them perfectly suit the woodland setting. I wouldn't want to be biased but in my opinion they're all award-worthy developments!