In the latest of our ongoing series of interview with senior figures in the new homes industry, Marc Da Silva poses the questions to John Elliott, managing director of Millwood Designer Homes.
Where in the South East of England do you cover? We develop new homes across the whole of the South East as well as London.
What are housing market conditions currently like in those areas? The South East has always been strong for the housing market and property values are the highest outside of London. Excellent commuter links to the City, great schools and facilities, good weather, beautiful countryside and quaint villages, all this contributes to making the South East a wonderful place to live.
House prices have been and always will be strong in the South East, where properties generally sell quickly. In fact, the main problem is that there is not enough housing supply to meet demand but that is where we come in.
What types of properties is your firm developing? Currently we are building terraced homes through to substantial detached properties.
What projects are Millwood Designer Homes working on and what's in the development pipeline? We have both developments and individual homes available in Surrey (Dormans Park, Tatsfield, Reigate and Tadworth), East Sussex (Etchingham and Crowborough) and Kent (Sevenoaks and East Malling).
In the pipeline we have The Ridge in East Sussex, Southfleet and Maidstone in Kent, and other new sites in Surrey which are currently going through the planning process.
How much does a new-build property by Millwood Designer Homes typically cost to buy? Our current new homes range from £350,000 for a three-bedroom terrace in East Malling and Etchingham, to £2.65m for a substantial five-bedroom property in Reigate.
Why should more buyers consider buying a new-build home as opposed to older property? New homes are as technically advanced as you could expect in terms of energy efficiency, helping to reduce your household expenditure. They are far more environmentally friendly and sustainable than they have ever been. In fact, due to building standards that were introduced in 2006 and 2010, new homes are now 40% more energy efficient than those built at the beginning of the decade.
New homes always benefit from the latest advances in construction, insulation and energy-efficient technology. Highly efficient heating systems using condensing boilers coupled with comprehensive levels of insulation and air tightness all help to create houses that are comfortable to live in and economical to run. Underfloor heating is also a very efficient way of heating the rooms of a house. There are no radiators or heaters on show, no maintenance, and the heat is distributed evenly around each room.
High levels of specification also help to ensure your home is as energy efficient as possible. Induction hobs, low-energy fittings and reduced-flow-rate valves for water consumption are just some of the things that help reduce your living costs.
We also offer a unique design and build private clients service and have built new homes for a number of individual clients who have all had the choice of extending the levels of efficiency even further. Rainwater recycling systems, photovoltaic and ground-source heat pumps using geo-thermal energy are just some of the innovative solutions that help to keep your home environmentally friendly and reduce your living costs.
Is it worth buying property during the off-plan stage of construction? Definitely! What better way to build the home of your dreams? For many people, the thought of building their own home, although tempting, can be very daunting and fraught with complications. However, by working with a housebuilder like Millwood, you have the opportunity of self-build but without any of the hassle. We take care of everything for you; all you need to do is tell us what you want.
For each site we always have drawings and plans for the homes we are going to build but, depending on the stage of construction, in some cases you are able to completely alter the external design subject to planning, of course. Moving forward in the construction line, you are then looking at internal changes, which could be moving walls to change the layout through to choosing the finishing touches, like the style of the kitchen and the colour of the tiles in the bathroom.
Our design and build private clients service gives you a lot more control because we literally do start from scratch, working with our clients from the very beginning to build them the perfect home for their lifestyle.
What is Millwood Designer Homes' USP? Our high specification and design - our homes have massive kerb appeal. Every home and development is treated differently, and a lot of research goes into the architectural history of the area, which often gives us the inspiration for the design.
We want to build homes that are not only innovative, unique and beautiful to look at but that also fit in with their surroundings, making them a positive enhancement to the area.
We use reclaimed bricks and roof tiles wherever possible to give our homes a more established appearance, combining traditional features with modern accents for a contemporary twist.
Which of the developments Millwood Designer Homes is currently developing do you think stands the best chance of winning a WhatHouse? Award? I would say either Orchard Gate in East Malling or our two homes on High Trees Road in Reigate.