Sarah White, Residential Sector Manager at British Gypsum, explains how housebuilders are using innovation to sell houses quicker and with bigger margins.
The housing shortage has been high on the political agenda for years and the good news is that the government is taking more and more steps to increase opportunities for housebuilders of all sizes to boost output. Recently there has been a real focus on SME builders with the housing minister commenting that Britain is ‘too dependent’ on large developers. In support of this we’ve seen a number of positive moves including the launch of the Housing White Paper and the government’s Accelerated Construction programme, which sees the government committing to go into joint ventures with SME builders on large plots of subdivided government land.
However, although the need for more homes to be built quicker is clear, this cannot be to the detriment of quality. Unfortunately, for some speed has become king and as Paula Higgins, Chief Executive of the Homeowners Alliance campaign group, has said, in some instances buying a new home is “riskier than buying a home that has been standing for 100 years.”
Thankfully, we have seen many SME housebuilders who are taking full advantage of the new opportunities available and have a real interest in building high quality homes. By exploiting the latest building material innovations, these builders are creating homes with a real point of difference that are resonating with buyers and boosting their reputations. One such housebuilder we’ve been working with recently is Cumbrian Homes, who have shown a real desire to invest in higher specification products to react quickly to the demands of modern house buyers.
“By exploiting the latest building material innovations… builders are creating homes with a real point of difference that are resonating with buyers and boosting their reputations.”
Always on the look out for new and innovative products to make its homes stand out, Cumbrian Homes identified three of British Gypsum’s products as must haves to include into a number of its property types as standard at its Carleton Manor Park development of 44 luxury homes – these were Gyproc Habito plasterboard, Thistle Magnetic Plaster and Sound Solutions. By using these enhancements, Cumbrian Homes created a win-win scenario as not only did the product innovations offer real living benefits to homebuyers, it also resulted in real commercial benefits.
A new role for walls
Gyproc Habito is a super-strength plasterboard that is five times stronger than standard wall board. It requires no specialist fixings and can hold 15kg from a single no.10 woodscrew. Cumbrian Homes was the first regional housebuilder to adopt the new plasterboard as standard and, along with the other new products, built a show home to gauge buyers’ responses – one of the visitors commented: “I’m the one who puts up the shelves and to be able to do that with just one screw is absolutely fantastic, it’s so time saving. I’m almost speechless, I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Thistle Magnetic plaster provides solutions for almost every environment and a real talking point for potential buyers that can set apart a housebuilder’s development from the competition. By attracting magnets the plaster can transform any wall into a fun interactive surface and is ideal for kitchens, children’s bedrooms and home offices.
In addition, Cumbrian Homes offered its buyers the chance to add further sound proofing to any room of their choice by using British Gypsum’s Silent Walls and Silent Floors solutions. Acoustic performance is an area of real contention in the public’s perceptions of new build houses.
Cumbrian Homes recognised this and by using the company’s latest solutions, which provide high levels of acoustic insulation in surprisingly narrow systems, was able to offer superior acoustic performance whilst maximising internal living space. Housebuilders that are combatting the negative messages communicated in the press by building better quality homes that allow occupants to live as they want to live without the perceived acoustic pain points are enjoying increased demand and profits.
Talking about the development Nigel Pallister, Managing Director of Cumbrian Homes, commented: “We believe our role as a developer is to bring the latest products and technologies to home buyers and when we opened the show home and saw the reaction to the products we knew we’d made the right choice.”
Speeding up the build
Another regional housebuilder we’ve worked with recently is Rob Wyman Homes Ltd, who saw the benefit of specifying our Gyproc Habito plasterboard. Company owner Rob Wyman commented: “The flexibility this plasterboard offers homeowners is a big draw for us. What’s more, the construction team has seen the advantages of using it as there’s no need to backboard it, speeding up the build process.”
Reputation for regional and SME housebuilders up and down the country is paramount, so building homes that will stand the test of modern day living is key. There are plenty of innovative solutions available to reduce any possible pain points for homebuyers and improve living standards that, as Cumbrian Homes & Wyman Homes have demonstrated, translate into happy customers that not only buy homes but that give glowing recommendations and feedback to boost third party endorsements.
In addition, with some housing charities calling for contractors to face penalties for poor housing construction, the pressure on housebuilders to deliver high quality homes is at an all time high. Incorporating innovative new materials can significantly improve build quality and buyer sentiment.