* There is a rise of tech-smart new homes in the capital, including Holborough Lakes in Sevenoaks which features energy saving technology.
* New schemes to regenerate rundown locations are launching in areas such as Elephant and Castle this spring.
This spring, new homes are shooting up faster than the daffodils, with builders buoyed by the Government’s new Help-to-Buy scheme. Easter fired the starting gun for the new homes launch season, with a wider-than-ever choice of showhomes to visit, catering for every type of buyer and budget — from first-timers and families trading up, to the newlywed and the downsizing newly divorced.
And with prospective buyers demanding more design quality, developers have stepped up to the plate with innovative features at every price level.
Smart home technology
One simple design innovation making its debut this spring, at Holborough Lakes in Sevenoaks, is an energy-saving master switch. Positioned just inside the front door, it turns off all the lights when you leave.
Other new ideas include touchpad smart home technology that allows digital downloads in every room in the house, and glass-walled winter gardens are becoming a fashionable housing extra.
Interior designers are being briefed not just to dress showhouses but to maximise ways to add a sense of space, with well-designed storage furniture, textured and light-reflective fabrics and uplifting glossy surfaces. Lighting style — underfloor, in staircases, subtle and clever — is crucial.
One idea, copied from New York, is to design homes so that the front door opens straight into the living space, doing away with the hall. This works particularly well in high-rise apartments with floor-to-ceiling windows, as it opens up views. And instead of dividing walls, bespoke shelving units are used to separate areas.
“The flow of space is the first and most important design aspect,” says interior designer Tara Bernerd, whose current residential projects include show flats at One Blackfriars and One The Elephant. “Once the architectural principles are formed, it’s about the layers, the choice of finishes and textures.
“Since the first wave of recession in 2008, there’s been a conscious move towards higher standards, and what is most suitable rather than what is the most expensive or flashy.”
Sensible builders actually ask buyers what they want. Customer feedback has led St James Homes to indulge buyers in their larger houses with his and hers dressing rooms. Other popular requests were balconies and terraces on higher floors, and large family rooms with bi-folding full-height glass doors that open on to the garden.
Small things make all the difference, such as pull-down loft ladders and bathroom cabinets set into the wall with mirrored doors inside and out, and “camouflaged” light switches and mobile phone sockets that blend into the background or can be painted over.
Early buyers can often change the floor plans. At Hurlingham Gate, Fulham, off-plan buyers can choose either a master bedroom suite on the top floor of the house, or two separate bedrooms.
Homes have also been launched at Emerald Square, Roehampton, and Langham Square, Putney. Prices from £460,000. Call 020 3597 7070.