Lateral Thinking From Award-Winning Housebuilder Kebbell

Posted 5 December 2019 by Lizzie Leigh

Andrea Fawell, sales & marketing director of WhatHouse? 2019 award winners, Kebbell, tells us how she relishes a complicated deal requiring lateral thinking...

Award-winning Kebbell build new homes the length and breadth of the country, we find out how they enhance the lives of purchasers wherever they’re based...

Kebbell builds new homes from London to North Yorkshire, do you spend a lot of time travelling the length and breadth of the country as their sales & marketing director?

Our managing director Nick Kebbell and I travel once a fortnight to our northern developments. It’s an early start but by train we are on site by 10am. We have a number of sites currently under construction and others that are in planning, as well as always having new opportunities to consider, so no two visits are ever the same. It’s great to be able to dedicate the whole day to the Northern team and it ensures that we are all understanding the priorities of the moment. They are very self-sufficient in between our visits but as I am responsible for all the sales reporting and marketing it’s critical that despite the distance between us I have a full and in-depth knowledge of what is going on so that the marketing is en-pointe and my reporting is accurate. I also travel to London and across to Home Counties’ developments regularly.

What are some of the factors Kebbell needs to consider when building new houses in such different geographical locations?

We want all of our teams nationwide to feel very much part of the Kebbell family and we are constantly on the phone and emailing so the distance between us has little if any relevance. Our philosophy and procedures are the same wherever the team is based. The loyalty to Nick and the Kebbell family is as strongly felt in Yorkshire, London and Hampshire as it is here in Buckinghamshire, and the longevity of staff service is equally as impressive in all these areas.

Which particular schemes are you focusing on at the moment?

Each development has its own identity and unique characteristics so it’s enjoyable to work with such variety whilst always ensuring we are known for delivering stunning properties in some of the country’s most sought after locations. In some areas such as Cornelian Fields in Scarborough the demand outstrips supply so as soon as we release new homes they are snapped up. The size, complexity and high-end value of the substantial luxe homes at Aubury Place in Chiswick requires a different kind of attention from myself and the team. This means we are agile and make sure that each development gets the detailed attention it needs and deserves.

Your managing director, Nick Kebbell, says that the company's philosophy is to 'build homes that enhance the way people live their lives', how does this translate into the designs of the houses?

Everything we do we come at from the point of view of wanting to make everything suit the needs of our future home-owners. We are constantly asking what will exceed their expectations? What will delight them? What will make their life more comfortable, more practical, more convenient? What will make the difference from what they are being offered elsewhere? Details such as which side of the basin to hang the towel rail or can we fit another wardrobe in under a sloping ceiling? Can we orientate the garden differently? We give ourselves time to consider all these details and make the adjustments when it would be easier not to. There is always a reason for every decision. I spend as much time on site as possible at the coal face understanding our purchasers and our competitors to get as much right as we possibly can.

All these little things add up to make Kebbell stand out. We were really honoured to be recognised for this after winning two awards in the last two months; silver prize for the UK’s Best Small Housebuilder at the national WhatHouse? Awards and the Best London Residential Development award at the prestigious International Property Awards (2019/20), the largest international property development awards across the world.

Does Kebbell offer incentives to buyers such as Help To Buy or Part Exchange?

Yes, we offer the full range of incentives. Because we are a small, dynamic, privately owned company not shackled by the constraints of bureaucracy or long management chains. I empower our sales team to be as dynamic and flexible as possible. The more complicated and lateral thinking a deal is the better! It shows we’re working hard and really trying to help meet the needs of our purchasers. If someone wants to buy a Kebbell home we’ll make it as easy and stress free as possible.

Find out more about Help to Buy

How are you finding business at the moment, are there areas in the UK which are performing more strongly than others?

There is no doubt market conditions are challenging. The political uncertainty and Brexit means that in some areas things are slower than they might otherwise be. We expect a lot of pent up demand will be unlocked next year when I expect us to return to a market with more confidence and certainty. Overall though I am delighted about how well we have weathered the storm, which I put down to progressive leadership and experience, as well as the demand for our homes.

Have you seen builds change much in terms of considering environmental and ecological factors in housebuilding materials being used?

Eco credentials are important to us as well as our buyers so yes, we are constantly asking ourselves are we doing the best we can and what can we do to improve it? For example, underfloor heating comes as standard in all Kebbell homes and solar panels are also fitted wherever possible across the developments. At Aubury Place, our Chiswick development, all kitchen appliances are A or A+ rated to help reduce energy consumption. Lower energy lighting is also installed throughout with dimmer switches and natural light is utilised as much as possible; all aimed at reducing powerful lighting requirements.

What are some of the most popular interior design trends with your buyers?

Kitchens are going darker, bolder in colour and more textured. Concrete is big as are dark contemporary shaker style units with slimline glamorous light coloured work surfaces. Bathrooms are seeing large format tiles with contrasting vanity units and open plan living spaces are still a big factor for busy families. Our bold, dramatic talking point wallpaper in cloakrooms also always seems to leave a lasting impression.

What are you most looking forward to at Kebbell in 2020?

We will be getting started on a big site for family housing in Petersfield in Hampshire. We have built in the town for decades so it’s great to be back in this fabulous market town. We also have a number of niche downsizer apartment developments in Sunningdale/Ascot which are always a privilege to work on. We will also be launching a development that offers a rare opportunity to live in the centre of the South Downs National Park and Meon Valley. Who wouldn’t want to live in a National Park?!

And finally, what's the most useful piece of advice you can give to somebody looking to buy a brand new property?

Decide on the three most important things you are looking for in your new home, and if the house you are visiting ticks those boxes and you feel emotionally moved when you visit then it is the one for you, so snap it up before someone else does! If it moves you, then move!



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