This week, our ongoing series of interviews with some of the UK’s most influential housebuilders takes a look at the custom-build market, and a poses the questions to Neil Jones of award-winning specialist housebuilder Lusso Homes.
Please tell us a little about yourself and the history of Lusso.
I have been working in property since 1989, initially as an estate agent for a small independent before progressing through the ranks with various national agencies. I spent many years specialising on land and new homes sales which I had a real passion for.
This progressed until I eventually set up my own business together with an incredibly experienced team. We continued to assemble residential land deals for a few years before finally taking the plunge and building our first Lusso home in Weybridge, Surrey in 2005. Since then we have continued to grow, winning various awards and industry accolades in recognition of our achievements and success.
You're now offering a custom design and build service - can you outline what that is about?
Lusso’s Design & Build package allows would-be self-builders to get all the customisation benefits, without compromising their time. There is a clearly a significant aspirant market for customised homes and it’s encouraging to see a real policy and legislation push from central government to unlock the potential in this market.
At Lusso, our customers are increasing looking for a completely customised and streamlined solution for their new home. Consequently, our new Design & Build option is a comprehensive one-stop shop, where they can work alongside us to access our expertise, innovation and insight, in order to create unique luxury homes, designed to fit their lifestyle. We understand that undertaking a project of this scale can be incredibly daunting for customers, especially so if they are avid Grand Designs viewers! However, our expertise is offered at every stage of the process, from finding a suitable plot, architectural design, and securing planning approval, right through to the construction process, landscaping and interior design.
Our long-standing relationships with award-winning architects, in conjunction with our expert in-house planning consultants, interior designers, landscape architects and extensive construction team enable us to confidently serve the luxury end of the custom-build homes market, with the same architectural integrity and meticulous attention-to-detail that is the hallmark of every Lusso home.
Has the popularity of TV shows such as Grand Designs had a big influence on the custom-build market?
Yes, definitely. The British are of course slightly obsessed with property and most people dream of building their very own new home from scratch. Programmes like Grand Designs certainly fuelled this enthusiasm as well recent rises in SDLT which are making the case for self-build/design-and-build routes much more appealing, where you only pay SDLT on the value of the plot, not the value of the house you build.
What sort of price point and time frames should custom-build customers plan for?
Given our area of operation and our reputation for building luxuriously appointed homes, we tend to see most enquiries for plots valued between £500,000 and £2m. Most of our clients are based in Surrey and Berkshire and very often these buyers are migrating out of London. The usual factors apply including, better value for money, highly regarded towns and villages with great transport links back into town, first rate schools and leisure facilities. Of course, this means plots suitable for redevelopment are at a premium and our ability to source a selection puts us in front of many of our competitors.
What size/location of plot is best for this type of project?
Typically one-third through to one acre plots.
How much influence does the buyer have on such a project?
It really depends on the individual plot. Of course, planning considerations have to be considered but once we’ve established the principle of development with the local authority we can usually provide our clients with almost every conceivable option. Everything from the style and appearance of the building, the materials we use, the internal layouts and of course the final finishes. This is after all, the main reason for embarking on a self-build project and most clients really engage with us throughout the process.
With so many options, do you find buyers have firm preferences when they come to see you or is there a danger of it becoming an endless task to come to a final decision?
There certainly is a vast number of choices to make and yes, there is always a danger that ‘too much choice’ isn’t a good thing. Most clients have a pretty clear idea of what they like and don’t like and we work with them in conjunction with expert interior designs to assist with their choices. We provide key dates throughout the construction program and ensure our clients understand the importance of making decisions in a timely fashion to avoid delaying their project.
Do you have any recent/current examples of custom-build you can tell us about?
We are two-thirds of the way through a private client project in Esher, Surrey where the client was keen to use a very innovative ICF (insulated concrete formworks) building system. We were equally enthusiastic to use these new techniques which achieve incredibly energy-efficient homes. For us, embracing new building techniques as well as holding true to traditional construction methods is part and parcel of being a 21st century housebuilder.
We also about to embark on an ultra-contemporary family home in Surrey featuring some amazing open-plan spaces, an internal courtyard complete with swimming pool and outdoor entertaining / kitchen area.
How can people find out more about how you can help them?
Simply visit our web site at www.lussohomes.co.uk or give us a call on 01932 858580