Devonshire Homes development

Devonshire Homes development

The showhome in any development is a key tool in the sales process. PHPD recently visited Westaway Reach, a new development near Barnstaple by Devonshire Homes where the company is building 42 new homes – to find out more about the scheme and its showhome.

Situated on the edge of North Devon’s principle town, Barnstaple, Westaway Reach is a collection of 42 three and four bedroom homes. The site had been of interest to housebuilder Devonshire Homes since 2010, with construction beginning in November, 2015. Some of the homes on the site have already been sold and the new showhome has recently been opened.Devonshire Homes 1

Although just one of many tools used to help sell new homes the showhome is, arguably, the most important. Situated at the entrance to the new development the four bedroomed property Devonshire Homes has selected as its showhome for the site is one of its Southall design homes.

The house has been furnished and decorated by a local interior designer and the gardens are landscaped. Features of the property include an impressive kitchen diner with views over the garden, a generous well-presented lounge, including a feature modern wood burning stove and a well-proportioned master with an en-suite.

Steve Russell, MD of Devonshire Homes tells us that the company carefully considers both the design of each development and of the homes being built to ensure it meets local needs and will become a strong community. He continued, “We are building more houses than ever in the county, becoming much more ambitious in our house designs and exploring new areas in regeneration and restoration.”

Internal features

IMG_4142Internally, the showhome at Westaway Reach features an open plan kitchen diner with integrated appliances. Painted in a strong grey – a popular on-trend colour – it has quartz work surfaces to match.

In the all-important bathrooms and en-suites premium finishes include Duravit sanitaryware with Vado chrome fittings. There is a choice of wall tiles, with the showhome bathrooms part tiled with large tiles.

Devonshire Homes Sales and Marketing Director Jane Pearce explained the importance of the showhome: “Having a show home enables purchasers to envisage their completed home or if a different house type lets them see the finish of our houses and the fittings used by Devonshire Homes.  This also gives them the opportunity, if the build stage allows, to add extras that they may have seen but not previously considered for their new home.

“The show home also gives confidence to purchasers during this important transaction which is one of the most significant that anyone will make.”

External appearance

The housebuilder has identified certain areas of the property which it believes can really add to the overall design and feel of a new home. It has a strong belief in the importance of the external appearance. Many homes are rendered – to fit in to the local vernacular – and the company has designed the properties so the services cabinets are not ‘on display’ outside the home.

Gas, electricity and broadband all come into a central ‘media cabinet’ inside the home designed to be virtually invisible.  This unclutters the front elevation and provides a central point inside the home where meters can be accessed and routers connected.

Another thing you note on entering the showhome is the look and feel of the internal doors. The wooden doors have a good weight and a quality feel. Being noticeable throughout the property attention to internal doors is always important and reinforces the attention to details throughout the build.

The companyMaster bedroom

With its routes in the local area, as its name betrays, the company is planning for growth in the future with another 77 new homes planned for a nearby development in Landkey again on the outskirts of Barnstaple. A further development in Cullompton has recently been offered for sale where 100 properties will be built.

Employing in the region of 45 people Devonshire Homes has a turnover in the £20-30m range and will build around 130 units in 2016. Plans are in place to grow this to over 200 sold units in 2017.

Steve Russell explained the company’s growth ambitions. “The ambition is to grow the company to around 250 units per year. I think that is achievable and manageable at the moment. We need to establish ourselves up at around 250 units for 4-5 years and then we will be firmly established, the turnover will be there and the profit will be coming in and we can look to branch out again.”

Challenges to growth

Steve confirms that the challenges facing the company differ little to most other housebuilders. The company works closely with local councils and communities to achieve planning obligations and deliver new homes, well designed and built.

The ‘skills shortage’ is another issue the company is closely managing. Steve explains that as a result of its North Devon location skilled labour is often pulled up the M5 towards Bristol for higher wages. To help combat this issue the company is taking on apprentices. Steve notes, “We are looking to do that. It is not actually only site based we are looking to recruit people for a quantity surveyor roil and quality candidates are in short supply. It is not only bricklayers, site managers and carpenters that are in short supply it is office staff as well.”

Steve also believes that market confidence is another important factor for the industry noting, “The majority of people would say planning is a key risk, but I do think confidence in the market is also a real driver. The biggest worry for me is the confidence in the market of our purchasers.”

Brand new

Devonshire Homes has recently updated its corporate branding. Designed by Exeter-based brand design studio Believe in, the company’s logo has been changed into a black and white design that incorporates a new ‘maker’s mark’ symbol. Devonshire Homes managing director Steve Russell commented: “With Devonshire Homes fast approaching its first quarter century, it was time to update the story that the company was presenting to the world.” Founded in 1992, Devonshire Homes is the house building subsidiary of London and Devonshire Trust. Trust chairman David Heathcoat Amory who was at the unveiling noted: “In 1816 John Heathcoat moved to Tiverton from Derbyshire and built houses for his workforce which still exist in the town today. I think he would be delighted and proud that his descendants are still in the business of providing quality homes for the growing population of Devon.” “As an independent and local house builder we want to clearly set ourselves apart from the large national high volume builders,” Steve Russell added. “This is an exciting time for the company and we want our corporate image to reflect that. Our new identity is a contemporary interpretation of traditional values, much like our houses.”

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