The government has been pushing the development of more new homes in the UK to help tackle the housing shortage.
In fact, figures released earlier this month showed that house building in England is at its highest level in nearly three decades, with 241,130 new homes completed in 2018-19. Almost 30,000 of these new homes were created by converting an existing building, rather than building new, the Guardian revealed.
But are all the new builds that are being constructed ticking the boxes for prospective buyers in the UK? It seems possibly not.
A new survey by Jackson-Stops, a national estate agency firm, has found that many people would like to see period properties being included in their new-build homes.
The research revealed that 77 per cent of people would like to see period features being incorporated into new-builds.
This rises to 80 per cent among 18 to 34 year olds, who are often the target market among developers as they will be looking to get on the housing ladder with their first home.
Open fireplaces were cited as one of the features that buyers would like to see – 25 per cent of 18 to 34 year olds want to have one of these in their homes, while 35 per cent want to have bay windows.
In fact, bay windows were named as the most popular period feature among all age groups, with 38 per cent of respondents overall citing this as the design change they’d most like at their property.
Almost one-third (29 per cent) of those questioned also said that they’d like to have a country-style kitchen in their home, Property Reporter revealed.
Another thing that prospective buyers would like to see in new builds is high ceilings, with 28 per cent naming this as a feature they’d welcome in a new-build property.
Chairman at Jackson-Stops Nick Leeming said that it’s not really a surprise that many homeowners would prefer to have period features in their homes. “A desire to live in historic houses that offer tall ceilings, ornately crafted features and elegantly proportioned rooms with plenty of natural light has always been in the British homebuyers DNA,” he asserted.
It’s something that developers should certainly consider when designing new housing estates, as there’s clearly significant demand for homes that have these attractive and often practical features.
As Mr Leeming points out, a bay window can provide additional storage space, or be a good spot for extra seating in a room.
But he noted that, despite wanting period features, this doesn’t necessarily mean that buyers would prefer to buy a period home. “Combining these features with the benefits of a new build property, such as energy efficient appliances and minimal maintenance, is clearly a match made in heaven for much of the UK,” Mr Leeming added.
This may also mean that those already living in a new build could look at how to add period features to their homes in the future. When it comes to the windows, for instance, replacing the existing glazing with new timber windows in West Sussex, or wherever people live, could add a bit more character to an otherwise bog-standard home.
Director of the Jackson-Stops Winchester branch Patrick Glynn-Jones told the news provider that developers around his city have already started to take note of this desire for period features in new properties.
He revealed that many are incorporating the likes of bay windows, heritage clay or slate roofs and intricate ceiling mouldings and plasterwork into their latest developments in a bid to appeal to this large group of home buyers.
And if you already have a period home, many people believe you should keep it that way and showcase the period features, rather than making it look more modern and generic from the outside. Or at least that’s how it would seem after a recent episode of Old House New Home.
The Daily Mail revealed that there was a substantial online backlash after George Clarke helped a couple modernise their property, which was part old farmhouse and part ‘70s extension.
Rather than keeping the stone facade and mimicking this across the newer part of the property, they instead decided to render over the old exterior, creating a white and modern exterior. Some viewers criticised the choice, saying they couldn’t understand why the couple involved would take a period home and make it look like a new build.
And the BBC recently highlighted a new trend in building in the UK, known as facadism. It shared a series of photos taken by The Gentle Author, a London blogger who has been photographing projects where historic building facades remain despite the rest of the building being demolished and replaced by something completely new.
National Provincial Bank on Threadneedle Street was one example, where the impressive collonaded entrance and building frontage is remaining, while a new property is constructed on its plot.
Student housing for the London School of Economics on Artillery Lane provided another example. Here, the front of a pub dating from 1805 was retained, and behind it is a modern building of student flats.
It can sometimes be challenging to make a period building work as a modern home, which is why the idea of new-build properties with period features can be so appealing. But it is possible in some cases to alter the layout of a home without losing its character.
Country Life recently shared an example of where this was possible, despite a number of challenges.
The magazine shared the story of Lady Cara and Lord Willoughby, who moved into Birdsall House in North Yorkshire in 2017. The Georgian property was designed for a family with a large domestic staff. However, the couple had no intention of living with domestic staff, so wanted to make some changes.
One of the things that they felt was missing was a live-in kitchen and breakfast room. So this is what Lady Cara set about changing.
The couple decided to knock through six small rooms that made up the kitchen and domestic offices to create a large, open-plan space that could be used as a kitchen and living area. They now have a space measuring over 1,000 sq ft, but one that very much retains the period feeling of the property.
To manage this, they had cabinetry designed that included features appropriate for a Georgian house, and opted for a muted colour scheme when it came to painting them. They also sourced a number of items of furniture second-hand to help retain the period charm of the property.
All of this has resulted in a modern family home that doesn’t diminish the character of the original building.
Of course, this was a large-scale project with a substantial budget attached, but it demonstrates how you can be sensitive to the origins of your property while carrying out modernisation work. Considering everything from the colour scheme you use to the type of windows you have fitted can all make a difference.
If you live in a new-build property and would like to inject some period character into it, consider what design features you could adopt with minimal changes to the structure of the building. Replacing UPVC windows with timber frame glazing is one thing you could consider.
Or you may want to explore hiring a plasterer to create some ornate moulding or plasterwork on your ceilings to mimic a period home. Thinking carefully about your decor and furniture can also help create that kind of ambience, even in a modern property.