Thursday, 23 November 2017

Hamlet is proof not all new builds are created equally

Hamlet is proof not all new builds are created equally

NEW homes, or “new builds”, are enduringly popular with families and downsizers mainly because they look the part, and they’re already “finished”.

Indeed, when you’re considering a move, one should never underestimate the advantage of being able to move in straight away, without the need to spend a penny on decorating, repairs or replacing shoddy wiring and workmanship.

With new build homes, warranties are in place and there are current safety measures installed throughout, such as circuit breakers and fire alarms. Due to the increased energy efficiency, these properties tend to be far more cost-effective to run.

There’s also the no upward chain advantage to consider, meaning your move should be more straightforward.

Finally, new build homes have been carefully architecturally designed and finished to comply with the way we use our homes today — unlike many older properties.

And yes, sometimes these homes can have smaller gardens, but choose the right developer and right location, and you can get a decent family-sized garden with plenty of space.

Such is the case with this week’s properties in the new hamlet of Farnehurst — a Millgate development on Henley’s western boundary.

Named after Northumberland’s Farne Islands, paired with the “olde” English word for a raised wooded area (hurst), Farnehurst was created in the quiet grounds of an attractive 19th-century rectory, which is still there and helped influence the design of the new homes.

So we see Portland stone, mellow bricks, and gabled windows in each of the three new properties, and the gardens contain mature trees and flourishing shrubs from the former rectory grounds.

Since the rectory is called Lindisfarne, Millgate named its new houses: Goswick (after Northumberland’s coastal hamlet), Bamburgh (after the castle) and Belford (after the neighbouring village).

Goswick has already been snapped up, so there are now only two left, with Bamburgh being the show home with its furniture available to purchase separately.

Each of the houses features a south-facing garden and is similar in size yet individually designed. Belford has a stone column entrance, whereas Bamburgh has a sheltered loggia to the front door.

Over three floors, these houses offer five-to-six bedrooms with en suite bathrooms and a double or triple garage.

The layouts make the best use of space too. The downstairs has a large room, ideal for modern family living with individual areas for relaxing and watching TV, formal and informal dining, and the kitchen, where you can cook and be surrounded by company at the same time.

Both the living room, which includes a fireplace and carpet, and family room, which has solid floors that span the length of the house, open on to the wrap-around garden terrace.

With this development, you also get a ready-installed water softener (definitely needed in this hard-water area), high-pressure boiler system and under-floor heating. The décor, by interior designer Alexander James, will also appeal to most tastes — chic and understated without being cold.

Both houses feature staircases/open hall atriums, which don’t overwhelm the space they’re in. The bannisters are an attractive New England shade of pale wood, while the wooden floor in the hall flows to the ceramic floor in the kitchen.

But the devil is in the detail. And I don’t mean the niche cornice lighting and mirrored skylights (although those are really very nice). We’re talking obvious expectations such as USB port plugs as standard, telephone sockets installed in every major room, and the fact that the utility room door opens on to a patio.

You may laugh at this last example, but believe me, sometimes luxury new builds come with off-centre analogue sockets and a utility/side door that opens on to lawn and, by the time a muddy winter has set in, you’ll be wondering why you didn’t spot that the patio doesn’t wrap all the way around the house.

So here’s my tip. Don’t get mesmerised by “state-of-the-art” wine fridges and Villeroy & Boch feature baths. Before you sign on the dotted line make sure you check the finer details.

Farnehurst has been beautifully designed, with properly finished and welcoming and liveable homes that you can just move in to straight away, and they will feel like “home” from day one. Which is what it’s all about, is it not?

Remember: not all similar-priced new builds are created equal.

l Bamber House and Belford House, off Peppard Lane, Henley, are priced at £2,595,000 each. For more information, call (01491) 412345, visit www.davistate.com or email henley@davistate.com

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