Why I 💕 new builds (sorry, cosy cottages!)
Coveting space, a sprinkle of character and historic countryside setting for your next move? City & Country – the UK's leading heritage developer – has the answer...
I’ve exclusively lived in old houses, from low-ceilinged cottages in the Cotswolds as a child, to ten years spent in a very large, very cold Victorian house in South East London, so I always swore that when I bought my own place, it would be a new build, free from quirks (‘yes, the shower does work, but only if you hold the tap at a 47-degree angle’) and without the need for rewiring. Ever.
Despite my adamancy that a new build was the only kind of property for me, my decision has often been met with surprise. Don’t I want somewhere with a bit of character? Don’t I find new builds a bit samey? I’ve heard it all but have you thought about it from the other side of the (modern, neat) fence? Let’s see if I can sway you to the new build way of life…
You’ll join the eco-home massive
There are 247,000 homes being built each year in England and Wales (although this is under the government target of 300,000 per year) and government regulations mean that every home built today requires double glazed uPVC windows, high level insulation to roof and walls, energy efficient gas central heating and low energy lighting. And while that’s great news for your monthly bills, it’s also a boon for your resale value. Yep, eco-homes are going to be top of the agenda for prospective house buyers as we move into the next decade thanks to the climate crisis, with Millennials and Gen Z demanding outstanding eco creds.
You can put your own stamp on a new build
A new build might look similar externally to the other properties surrounding it, but because it’s a blank canvas you can do whatever you like inside, safe in the knowledge no interior decisions you make are going to look out of place.
Fancy a peacock green statement wall? Great! It won’t clash with any ancient fireplaces or exposed brick chimney breasts. Dreaming of a midnight blue bedroom? Not a problem, there’s no old wallpaper to strip / plaster to redo.
They’re designed for life today (not 200 years ago)
It’s fair to say that 17th-century cottage stairs were not designed for king-size mattresses and huge, rambling gardens were created when homes had staff, not just two frantic parents tapping away at a computer every god-given hour to put food on the table. Having something designed for purpose – large living-diner, neat, manageable outdoor space and, er… usefully placed plug sockets won’t tick the grand pronouncements about your new exciting ‘house project’ and you’re probably not going to find some long-forgotten Victorian tiles under the lino, but lord, it can shave off the stress of everyday life – and right now, who’s not up for that?
New builds are not clones
Far from walking into your neighbour’s house feeling like entering your own home with different furniture, most developers make sure there’s a variety to what they’re building, with houses ranging from cosy one beds to palatial eight-bedroom piles. They’re laid out differently inside too, and you can often make choices of how you want rooms to be designed when they’re in the building process. One friend of mine even knocked down a wall in her new build to make it more open plan, so there’s nothing to say you have to keep it exactly as is even if it was only just finished.
Modern developments can still have a sense of history
You often hear people muttering about new builds being soulless or without personality. Sure, they haven’t had years worth of families making memories within their four walls, but it doesn’t mean they have zero history. Take Burderop Park, between Marlborough and myself in Swindon, which counts George Clarke, architect and star of Channel 4’s The Restoration Man as a fan. Starting from £349,000, the houses may be brand new, but the estate they’re built on dates back to the 1200s and includes a Palladian Mansion on the site for your heritage fix – so you’re not only surrounded by history, but also 31 acres of open space with footpaths throughout the parkland to explore. That’ll do nicely!
Not all new build gardens are tiny
It’s true that you’re unlikely to get rolling acres of private garden with a new build, so if you want to create your own Capability Brown landscaping all power to you! But it’s also true that there are generous new build gardens as well as more bijou versions. Hands up, I’m not particularly green-fingered, and if like me, you’d rather spend the weekend out with friends than manicuring your lawn, a small outdoor space might be a selling point of new builds!