The site, one of the first of its kind in London, is for five terraced Custom Build homes, but is proving that the model takes time to refine in an urban environment.
Taking a practical approach, the development is being brought on with a degree of flexibilit. It has separate planning consents for both a house-only scheme, which is what is being built out, but also for a mixed scheme of houses and apartments.
The larger of the two houses will be built with careful design and technical considerations which mean that they can easily be converted into apartments by a future owner, should they wish.
Having looked at the project as both houses and apartments, Unboxed has found that flats are problematical for Custom Build due to issues around both taxation and party wall awards. And crucially, apartments are not able to be sold as a ‘Golden Brick’, the most advantageous economical option for the purchaser.
Currently, three of the five homes have been reserved, with Unboxed Homes optimistic that the remaining houses will be sold at Golden Brick. However, should this fail to happen in time, then the homes will be built out to shell.
Commenting on the issues connected with bringing on a Custom Build development in a city environment, Aly D’Souza, Head of Sales and Digital Marketing, RareSpace/Unboxed Homes said, “Custom Build is not an easy sell. Part of the issue is that the sector tends to believe that Custom Build is ready for the mass market.
“But our experiences show that, initially, Custom Build is going to be purchased by early adopters. This restricts it to a relatively niche part of the market.”
“These early adopters seem to be people with a direct connection with property, such as architects, builders or those working in construction in some way, or people who’ve already had the experience of renovating a home.
“These two groups are not scared of the risk and additional work that comes with the model, while also understanding the benefits of Custom Building. In addition, they’re the ones willing to work through the complexities and challenges that are part and parcel of a Custom Build.
“Essentially, we’re in the teething phases of Custom Build in the UK, but as more and more people become interested and begin purchasing Custom Build homes the easier the route will become for everyone involved.”
Gus Zogolovitch, Managing Director of Unboxed Homes said, “Ever since I built my own home in London, I’ve been hooked.
“My Self-build gives me more space, more light, better energy usage and so much better value for money. I have strived ever since to offer those benefits to others and Blenheim Grove does that.
“With this site, I think that we will genuinely be able to offer customers better homes: better quality, better designed, better for the environment and better value.”
The experience of many Custom Build developers has evidenced that the route is still a long way from being a mass-market vehicle. The pioneers and early-adopters of the model will de-risk Custom Building for those who follow, but this is dependent on these first homeowners successfully building, and then crucially sharing their experiences with the media. As an industry we all have a role in disseminating this information.