We continue our ongoing series of exclusive interviews with senior figures from the UK new homes industry by heading to south London to pose the questions to Martin Skinner of Inspired Asset Management and Inspired Homes.
Who are Inspired Homes?
Inspired Homes is our homebuilding brand. We're delivering about 1,500 apartments around places like Croydon, Sutton, Epsom, Chertsey, Crawley and soon hopefully in Luton, Woolwich and Swindon. We look to make the apartments more affordable for young professionals and first-time buyers by designing them more efficiently.
How do you improve the affordability of your homes?
For example, by uprating the sprinkler system, we can fire-engineer out dark, wasted hallway space. That means the apartments can take up less space but the usable areas are about the same. That means the unit prices can be lower, which means the monthly cost of the mortgage, service charge and utilities is affordable to a much larger proportion of the population. We can also uprate the specification and technology to suit the modern consumer:granite worktops, thick engineered wood flooring, Bosch appliances, Grohe taps, Villeroy & Boch sanitaryware, gigabit internet connectivity for every apartment, and NEST smart thermostat systems.
What else can buyers expect from the Inspired Homes approach?
We look to build in a lifestyle, a more inclusive, more social environment for residents to get to know their neighbours. We incorporate things like street art – for example, we have a ten-storey Ben Eine mural on the outside of Green Dragon House in Croydon. And we have an art curator who helps to choose and rotate the art in the club lounges and sky gardens. We like to think we look beyond the norm and encourage a sense of community.
We've used a 'hub-and-spoke' model to enable residents in our other developments nearby to be able to access the residents facilities in the bigger centralised developments like Green Dragon House and Impact House. We're also looking for ways for residents here to access the club lounges and sky gardens at other developments as well
Tell us about award-winning Green Dragon House in Croydon.
Green Dragon House is in the Restaurant Quarter of the new Croydon master plan, about five minutes' walk from the new Westfield shopping centre, due for completion in 2019/20, and opposite the new Croydon 'tech city', called Tomorrow, the fastest-growing in London. It's about a third of the commute time into central London from somewhere such as Fulham, and far more affordable – about £250,000 to £350,000 for a one-bed and £350,000 to £450,000 for a two-bed. With Help to Buy, that means people can look for buy with around £15,000 deposit, and their mortgage, service charge and utilities will fit into a bracket of about £800 per month.
Has London Help to Buy been popular with your customers?
Yes, it's been great for our buyers, requiring only a 5% deposit and a 55% loan-to-value mortgage, rather than a 95% loan-to-value mortgage without Help to Buy. Around 80% of our enquiries now are look for Help to Buy. We sold over 500 flats before we even registered for the scheme, but it will certainly help a lot more people who otherwise wouldn't have been able to buy. We currently offer Help to Buy London at Green Dragon House, Coombe Cross and Canius House and Help to Buy at Rutland House, Epsom.
What makes Croydon such a popular property hotspot?
We started selling these apartments just over two years ago now, and we initially went around all the main rail stations with our own newspaper, saying “Live brilliantly in Croydon”, which got a few people laughing. It's an image we are looking to improve and the council is investing heavily in regenerating the area and you can see the effect. We are playing our part, helping to see the 'Shoreditch-ification' of the area through our support of art and artists and making Croydon a cool place to live.
How can people find out more about what Inspired Homes is doing?
Come and have a look, that's the best thing to do – come and experience it. It's quite a disruptive form of housing, a more modern way to deliver housing. We think this is one of the key solutions to the housing crisis.
Find out more at inspiredhomes.uk.com ; 020 8688 6552
Current Inspired Homes developments
Green Dragon House, Croydon - This flagship Inspired Homes development has already won awards for innovation . Residents have access to a 10th floor sky garden and BBQ, table tennis, Brompton folding bike hire and locker system. Prices from £304,950. Seven units left.
Coombe Cross, Croydon - 82 one-and two-bedroom apartments in central South Croydon. Residents will also have privileged access to facilities at nearby Green Dragon House. Prices from: £287,950. 27 units available.
Canius House, Croydon - A 1980s office building become 39 one-and two-bedroom apartments in the heart of Croydon. Residents will have have access to the facilities at neighbouring Green Dragon House. Prices from: £299,950. One unit available.
Impact House, Croydon - Originally built as office building, now transformed into a light-filled landmark setting for contemporary apartments. Prices from: £304,950. 90 units available.
Rutland House, Epsom - Rutland House is a handsome four-storey structure converted into 32 one- and two-bedroom apartments eight minutes from the station. Prices from: £281,950. Ten units available.