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New Home Trends To Watch Out For in 2014


Tony Dowse, Chairman of leading eco house builder Environ Communities gives his views on the hottest trends in new homes for 2014. With innovations in building materials moving at a pace, each year house builders introduce new designs and new ways of living that we hadn’t deemed possible.

Let there be light!
The benefits of light on mental well-being and mood are well known but as house builders we have previously had to counter balance the number and amount of windows with the energy efficiency of the home. With recent innovations in glass insulation, and some interesting new products from Scandinavia coming onto the market, we are able to build in more glazing to our homes giving owners bright and light rooms for maximum health benefits. Not many people know this but natural light on a clear day gives 500-1000 times the light from an artificial source!

We are even adding windows to the roofs on some of our homes. Landings are usually quite dark spaces but ours are anything but. With roof windows light is sent right down to the bottom of the stairs to the hall way and reception rooms. The windows we use are from Nordan in Norway and they are triple glazed, argon filled and feature ‘warm edge technology’ which helps save energy and prevents condensation, making the home more comfortable.

Bringing the outdoors In
We have been looking at some recent research carried out at the University of Essex which shows conclusively that there are benefits for mental health from exposure to green spaces. One of the key trends over the last few years that will continue this year is providing a seamless continuation of the indoor space outdoors. We use the same Domus tiles in the kitchen and garden to make the indoor room look larger and to link the outdoor space at the same level. The spaces are typically split by large ceiling to floor glazed doors to maximise the views of the garden.

Turn–key properties
We are seeing a lot of interest in ‘turn-key’ new homes that are ready to move into. People are very busy so the convenience of moving into a property with everything already fitted is a plus. In some homes this can mean putting hooks on the back of doors and fitting bathroom mirrors.  Environ has taken the concept one step further and are now offering low maintenance ‘turn-key’ gardens where all you need is a pair of secateurs to keep it looking good all year round. We even supply a garden maintenance instruction manual!

Energy efficiency
With energy prices going up buyers are increasingly interested in the energy efficiency of homes. That’s one big advantage new homes have over older properties.  We are incorporating features such as triple glazed windows, high levels of insulating including insulated letter boxes and a heat recovery system that recovers heat from exhaust air and use it to heat incoming fresh air.

Flexible living spaces
With the number of children staying at home late into their twenties and thirties, and an ageing population, family homes have to now cater for a changing demographic. Whist open plan living may be popular when children are very young, as they grow older or with grandparents living under one roof privacy and noise insulation becomes more important.  Innovations such as ‘pocket doors’ that allow the division of larger open-plan spaces, then slide back into cavities within the internal walls, are proving very popular with buyers now as they provide the best of both worlds.

The use of highly insulated structured insulated panels (SIP) in construction means that lofts can be utilised for living space since the traditional trusses that limit head room in the roof space are gone.* This enables an additional room to be incorporated into the house, giving families flexibility should they need a further room. With the addition of glazing panels in the roof space natural light can flood into the room and additionally into the whole house.

*Purchaser needs to satisfy certain building regulations to be defined as habitable.


Example New Home

Keepers Court by Environ Communities

Four bedroom homes start from £562,500 and five bedroom homes start from £647,000.

Environ Communities, an award-winning developer specialising in sustainable development, has launched eight contemporary eco-homes, ‘Keepers Court’, at Kings Hill near West Malling in Kent. Designed to be both low maintenance and also highly sustainable, their location is within easy reach from London and bordered by an 150 acre Country Park, making them a good choice for commuters with families.


The four and five bedroom properties, designed to an exceptional specification, are contemporary inside and out whilst still reflecting the local Kentish architecture. Designed in four different styles, the homes are light and spacious with glass used throughout; features such as double height entrance halls and cathedral ceilings in the master bedrooms provide a ‘wow’ factor.

For more information see http://oakshamlet.com/eco-homes-kent/

Tel 01732 848316, or email: enquiries@oakshamlet.com