This week, we continue our ongoing series of interviews with important figures from the UK housebuilding industry by heading to the East Midlands and speaking to the managing director of a long-established, Nottingham-based Rippon Homes, Ian Dyke.
Hi Ian, please tell us a little about yourself and Rippon Homes.
I have been in housebuilding since taking up an engineering apprenticeship with Mason Richards Architects in Wolverhampton back in the 1980s.
Having gained my qualifications I jumped ship from private practice into frontline developing. Therefore, my experience is varied and covers most aspects of building new homes from inception to completion and maintenance in the future.
Rippon Homes has been in existence for over 60 years, starting out as a builder with local authority contracts before moving into an outright new housing development.
In the interim period the company also had its own joinery business for windows, stairs and doors. Operating generally in the East Midlands within an hour from its traditional base in Mansfield, we are able to build homes in the key East Midlands cities and assist in the regeneration of the old minefields.
What kind of homes is Rippon currently offering?
Our current portfolio is traditional two-storey homes with in-curtilage parking for owner-occupiers ranging from two to five bedrooms. We also look out for and develop sites for bungalows.
Do you have a "star" development and if so, what do you think makes it so popular?
This last year saw us complete on Kings Meadow at Wingerworth, Chesterfield, we sold very quickly. The properties had a high specification to reflect the area’s affluent nature. We have an upcoming site in Welton, Lincolnshire – a very popular village to the north of the city of Lincoln which is already proving to be very popular before launch. These two locations are very popular villages with a recognised sense of place and good facilities making them sustainable places to live.
How have schemes such as Help to Buy and Part Exchange (and others) had an impact on your buyers?
We have many schemes to help buyers find their next home. Help to Buy has helped younger home buyers and singletons purchase the home they want and need and keep the mortgage repayments affordable.
Part Exchange is available for those that want to move quickly and don’t want the hassle of dealing with sales agents and visitors to their property. We also run a sales assist scheme where we will organise the sale of our purchaser’s property at an agreed price to enable them to upgrade to a newer home.
Has the political and economic aftermath of the EU referendum affected the property market in your region?
We have not seen any overt signs of any downshift in the market apart from the usual summer recess. We do not have a large investor purchasing base for our product as we principally target owner-occupiers.
Do you think the buying public are fully aware of the benefits of buying a brand new home and what do you think are the main reasons people choose them in the end?
The industry has to do more to promote the benefits of new over old and the efficiencies in heating and maintenance alone swing the pendulum in favour of new build, and the benefit of an unchanged home not messed about by well-meaning ‘amateur builders’ has to be a plus to promote new over old.
Location is still key for any home purchase decision and the cost, layout, style are all subordinate to that single item.
Generally new homes now are well built and benefit from a warranty against defects for 10 years or more – this gives purchasers peace of mind on structural defects. The old myth that new homes are small boxes and all look the same is being dispelled by the industry’s move to better internal layouts and planning to maximise the living area and facilities in a new home. Indeed we strive to bring variety to our street scenes by using different styles, sizes and elevational treatments which sometimes the big developers struggle to do.
How have buyer expectations for specification (eg bathrooms, en suites, utility rooms, home tech) changed over the past few years?
New home buyers are more discerning in branded goods and fittings relative to the value of the home – for example, en suites are still popular whilst utility rooms have disappeared in favour of living family kitchen spaces.
Garages have become storage/playrooms and parking has had to increase to avoid on-street parking and cluttering up the street scene.
There has not been a huge demand for state-of-the-art tech but a good network system is installed to enable audiovisual around the home, with the onset of wireless communications hard cabling is a thing of the past. Home security has gone through a phase of homes with an alarm everywhere to only a few homes being fitted with an alarm.
‘Grand Design’ style programmes have influenced to a certain degree the decision to offer ‘glass walls’ and folding doors to bring the outside in but we all have to remember this island of ours sits at the junction of the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean and not near the equator so hot, dry, sunny days are few and far between.
What is it about your homes and service which differentiates you from your competitors?
We tend to search for smaller select developments, attention to detail in the layout planning of the site with focal points and interesting street scenes, build quality, value for money in terms of the size of the property being offered, concentrating on single- or two-storey style homes of a traditional nature.
We take pride in listening to the customers and providing a greater level of personalisation and needs. For example, we have recently amended one of our designs so that a family with grandparents could live independently in the same property.
What's in the pipeline for Rippon over the coming months?
Growth and expansion are key at Rippon Homes. Rippon Homes has been a traditional builder for a long time and we are looking how we can incorporate those traditional values with energy-efficient modern methods of construction. We are looking at the internal layout of the homes to maximise living space but still provide the right level of facilities in the new home.