SmartNewHomes

From garden pods to rooftop campervans and communal co-working spaces, some of the most interesting ways housebuilders are incorporating home offices into new-builds.

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  • There are many good things about a brand new home, but among the best are the options they provide for home-working.

    The pandemic has resulted in many of us working from home (WFH) all the time or at least some of the time, making a home office or other working space more important than ever

    With more than half of homeowners currently living in a home that doesn’t meet their needs according to our latest research, homebuilders have been responding to the changing needs of homebuyers by offering a range of innovative and quirky WFH opportunities.

    With a new version of Help to Buy, as well as schemes to offer first-time buyers half-price houses, you don’t have to be trading up or down to bag a fab new-build home.

    So, if you’re plotting your next move, here’s why a new-build might be perfect for you.

    Garden pods

    Opting for a high-rise development with communal gardens doesn’t mean you can’t fulfil your dream of a working-from-home office pod with a bit of greenery to look out upon.

    Build-to-rent developer Quintain Living has installed designer working from home sheds overlooking beautifully landscaped gardens for residents at its Canada Gardens building in Wembley Park. Better still, residents of the neighbouring The Robinson building can work from one of three custom-built campervans installed on the roof. 

    “Complete with power and lighting (and WiFi, naturally), the campervans sit on their own rooftop area with stunning views of London. We’ve added picnic tables and deckchairs too, to give this space a real community vibe, because working from home shouldn’t mean feeling lonely,” says Danielle Bayless, chief operating officer of Quintain Living.

    Communal working hubs

    Living in a one or two-bedroom flat in an apartment block doesn’t have to be a disadvantage when it comes to working from home. In fact, many developers are now building fantastic co-working spaces into developments.

    Bellway London has already introduced work hubs at some of its apartment developments, and at Maybrey Works, Sydenham and Beckton Parkside, Beckton, residents will have work facilities with meeting and conference rooms, as well as private booths for phonecalls.

    “Many of our residents also like to pop into the clubhouse to enjoy a coffee and a bit of company while they work. There’s free to access WiFi across the whole site, of course, to enable easy working,” says Bayless.

    Connectivity 

    As more of us work or study from home at the same time, having a strong internet connection is crucial.

    While many have chosen to take advantage of the shift in home-working culture to move out of towns and cities, many homehunters are searching for a secure WiFi connection as well as their dream country location.

    But opting for a new-build means your new home will be built with modern working (and connectivity) in mind, and might even be future-proofed for the arrival of faster search speeds.

    David Wilson Homes has pledged to offer fibre internet connection and 18 different internet service providers at its future developments. While Davidsons Homes provides two superfast broadband options at all developments as well as optional CAT 5 and CAT 6 cabling to be installed to data points in the home. 

    Bellway, which includes co-working spaces in its apartment buildings, is supplying communal workspaces with hyperoptic broadband.

    Customisation

    Buying a new-build home off-plan (before it has been built) comes with the added benefit of a range of customisable options that give buyers choice over fixtures, fittings and, sometimes even layouts.

    This means you can make sure the plug sockets you need for home-working are in the right location, such as on the breakfast bar if you plan to work from your kitchen. In some cases, you can actually influence the position or size of certain rooms. You might opt for one large bedroom and a small study, for example, rather than two double-bedrooms. 

    “Having a workspace which is separate from the rest of the house clearly appeals to some homeowners. A number of our customers have asked us not to install doors on their garages so they can fit windows instead and convert their garage into an office,” says Simon Tyler, sales director at Davidsons Homes South Midlands.

    A note of caution: it’s usually only possible to customise new-builds if you get in early when a development comes up for sale.

    Versatility 

    “The desire for a home office has never been greater than in the wake of Covid-19, and over the past year we’ve seen growing demand from our customers for more flexible living spaces that can be adapted as the needs of homeowners change,” says Vanessa MacNee, sales & marketing director at Crest Nicholson Midlands.

    Having a space that can change function as you need it can often be the difference between a home that feels cluttered and one that feels efficient and effective. There might be space, for example, to put a desk in the bedroom, but how does that make you feel when bedtime rolls around and the pile of unfinished work is in your sightline?

    David Wilson Homes has come up with a wardrobe package for its new-builds as a result of this, offering a space-saving wardrobe which can be turned into a fold-out desk. 

    “We now include a desk space in multiple rooms in our show homes, so people can see which space might work for them as a home office,” says Jason Hearn, Sales Director at David Wilson Homes South Midlands.

    Energy efficiency

    Working from home can significantly increase the amount of energy your home uses through electricity and heating, which in turn will increase the cost of your bills. Just think of how many times you boil the kettle or flush the loo in one day.

    However, new-build homes can be built to high eco-friendly standards which will not only save residents on the cost of their energy usage, but will help protect the planet, too.

    The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) recently released figures showing that 83% of new-builds were awarded an energy efficiency rating of ‘A’ or ‘B’ on the Energy Performance Certificate scale. By contrast, only 3% of existing homes were awarded a rating of either ‘A’ or ‘B.’

    New-build homes can benefit from energy-efficient features such as condensing boilers, double (or triple) glazing, increased insulation and solar panels, the latest energy-efficient appliances and heating, all of which help to keep energy bills low.

    Sound-proofing

    Having to regularly listen to your partner or child talk to their colleagues or peers on Zoom is enough to make anyone want to move house.

    Another great thing about new-build homes is modern buildings have to adhere to Part E (Resistance to Sound) of the Building Regulations.

    This deals both with protection from noise from neighbours in adjoining buildings and, crucially, sound transmission within the home itself.

    In a nutshell, this means new-build homes should be soundproofed to 45 decibels internally, which is more than enough to block out the sound of people talking, watching TV or playing music.

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