A relatively new entrant to the housebuilding market, Hayfield Homes is already establishing itself as an aspirational builder and has plans for growth across the country. PHPD visited the company’s development in Southmoor, Oxfordshire, to discover more.
Although only established two years ago, Hayfield is rapidly making a name for itself in the new homes sector. With a clear focus on aspirational homes it has placed quality at the heart of its operation and although a regional builder in size, it has its sights set right across the country, from the south-west and Wales to the east of England.
The company was formed in 2017, is backed by private investors and headed by Managing Director Mark Booth, formerly of Banner Homes. With a staff count of around 40 it is currently building at five locations, predominately in central England, but has plans to expand this to 8-9 sites by the year’s end. Target areas include sites in Bedfordshire as well as the M5 corridor.
However, it is quality, rather than location that is the overriding criteria for the business when it seeks new opportunities. We recently met up with Kelly Sharman, Sales and Marketing Director at Hayfield at the Solihull-based housebuilder’s 74-home development in Southmoor, and she explained: “We are looking everywhere at the moment. First and foremost is quality. That is what drives all of us. The second most important thing to us is location. We want to build quality homes in quality locations. We refuse to be regional because it clips your wings. If we see a prime site where we can build our quality homes, and showcase our company, then we will go anywhere.”
Although the company currently favours more rural locations, such as the Southmoor development in Oxfordshire, it does not rule out bringing its signature to more urban areas. Sharman said: “Our current locations tend to be more rural; this is not intentional, is just how it has happened. If we can find a town that will benefit from our product and people see the value in our product themselves, then we will go after a town location.”
Before any decisions on new sites are made the company invests significant time in researching the market, speaking with local developers, agents and even local Editor’s, to gauge the market. Kelly explained how she spends up to 2 weeks at a time in an area to assess the needs of the market and build a profile of potential buyers. She explained: “What I tend to find is that the areas in which we are building have been crying out for a good product.”
The emphasis placed on quality is evident when looking around the showhome. On the Southmoor development we visited, the new homes have underfloor heating to the ground floor, ceramic flooring downstairs, elegant kitchen / family rooms featuring Manor Interiors floor to ceiling units and curved end units. The company’s homes feature high-end brands including, in the kitchen, Grohe’s instant boiling water tap, Blanco sinks, Silestone work surfaces and integrated Bosch appliances. In the bathroom buyers will find Laurfen sanitaryware, integrated storage, large mirrors and Laurfen showers. Notably, the level of specification in the family bathroom runs into the en-suites.
Kelly explained that Hayfield’s focus on quality and on small details throughout a development was helping to establish the company’s identity. She said: “The quality of the build and the specification does give us the edge.”
To help maintain ‘the edge’ she is constantly seeking new interior design ideas and influences to integrate into Hayfield’s new homes and is planning a visit to Europe in the near future to find further design inspiration. Speaking to us in early March Kelly told us: “We had a launch at the weekend in Southham in Warwickshire, and visitors were totally blown away by the specification.”
Another thing of which Kelly is justifiably proud is that virtually everything in the showhome is standard. Kelly explained: “Whatever you see in our showhome is what you get, other than the alarm and the Sonos music system, everything else in the showhome is standard.”
One, perhaps surprising, area in which Hayfield Homes make a particular statement is the downstairs cloakroom, where it uses eye-catching wallpapers to catch the imagination of the buyer. Kelly explained: “We decided on our first showhome launch that this is the forgotten room, and it is the room all your visitors will use. So we started a little trend in all of our showhomes that we will put in a ridiculously wacky wallpaper. It has worked really well on social media as people have started to follow our wallpapers in our downstairs cloakrooms.”
Despite building homes to a high quality and featuring top brands the company is in no way resting on its laurels. Every new house type it produces is heavily critiqued by the board to continually refine the offer to the market.
“As a board we critique every single house type. As soon as we have built a home for the first time, as a team, we walk the property and change anything we feel we need to. When we build it again, we critique it again and change it again. We are forever changing our house designs.”
Kelly explained that the company had changed its external door designs a number of times since it began building to keep driving quality forward. “Externally in our building products we are forever evolving, and we have evolved at least 7-8 times since we began, and I think in the next year we will probably do it another 7-8 times, because we critique everything. We just keep improving, improving, improving.”
The company also invests in landscaping on each development. Kelly noted: “We enhance all of our landscaping outside the front of each home throughout the whole site and not just the showhome area.”
As part of its continual drive to improve, Kelly explained that the company is considering bringing more, smarter, technology into its homes. It is currently investigating the possibility of using Apps to control more elements of the home, such as heating, lighting and major appliances.
It is also looking into using Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP) on all its new homes, whether they are on the gas-grid or not. The company recently used this heating technology on its site at Great Bourton, which was off-grid, and Kelly told us it went down very well with customers. “It is something we raise at every pre start site meeting that we have. Every time we get nearer to saying yes (to using ASHP on a site).”
In just two years Hayfield has created a focussed offering based on quality and has already delivered around 250 homes to the market. With a desire to continually improve its new properties, and a strategy to spread across the country, it is likely that we will be hearing a lot more about this housebuilder in the coming years.