Neil McKay: Developers are rewriting the new builds rulebook

Common misconceptions around new builds need to be dispelled
Common misconceptions around new builds need to be dispelled
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With ambitious housing targets set by the Scottish Government, it is concerning to see that we are currently building 36.5 per cent fewer homes than we were pre-recession.

There is a responsibility for housebuilders to tackle this – we are doing so through our regeneration projects. However, we continue to see various misunderstandings existing around new build homes. It’s important that these are dispelled.

One common beliefs is that new build homes are expensive. This doesn’t have to be – new builds can be an attractive option regardless of your budget. Constant industry advances have improved building efficiency and reduced costs, and there are many options available including Help to Buy, Help to Buy Equity Loans, Mortgage Guarantees and Shared Ownership.

Another misconception is that new build developments tend to be situated in the middle of nowhere. Over the past decade or so, housing developers have become increasingly aware of the familiar mantra of “location, location, location” and this is reflected in the situation of modern developments.

We actively look to sites in urban locations to ensure residents have immediate access to necessary amenities, in addition to good transport links to get even closer to the heart of the city. Our Pennywell development in Edinburgh is in the centre of Muirhouse and our Perth development is in the middle of the bustling Muirton area. In Glasgow, our Laurieston development is within easy walking distance of the city centre.

A lot of people seem to believe that new builds are small and cramped. This is a huge generalisation and simply not the case. New builds come in all shapes and sizes and there is no reason to believe they’re any smaller than existing homes. If anything, there is likely to be more space in a new build as they tend to be more economical with storage and designed more with the modern lifestyle in mind.

Another common claim is that new build developers are focused on quantity and not quality. Again, I‘d argue that this is untrue – the two are not mutually exclusive. Developers benefit from economies of scale when buying materials to build multiple properties and can pass on the discounts to buyers without compromising on quality.

And of course, practice makes perfect. Following a tried and tested template further ensures a high quality build.

Some argue new build homes are bad for the environment due to the energy and materials used when building them. In reality, new builds actually benefit the planet in the long run as they are built using sustainable products and to be more energy efficient and better maintain heat than older homes.

There is an emerging trend in the industry towards “green building” which can already be seen in many developments as emphasis is placed on energy efficiency and heat retention.

W aim to tackle all of the existing myths by creating new build developments that are best in class. In the process, we are regenerating communities and – we hope – setting an example that can be followed across the country and potentially beyond.

Neil McKay is the Managing Director of Urban Union