Small is beautiful

If you’re thinking of moving to a brand-new development, Dom Sharp, from McIntosh Developments has plenty of useful tips about what to look for, insights into current house building trends and why you won’t find any thin doors at his latest boutique-build in the Chew Valley.

Hello Dom. Tell us about when your business started and what your latest project is called?

My father Geoffrey started the business 21 years ago as a change of direction from what he was doing before. We’re based in Frome and our latest project is called Richmont Place in East Harptree.

Talk us through the plans

It’s a nice mix of eight properties, ranging from two bedrooms up to five, predominantly set around a hard-landscaped courtyard. All these houses benefit from spacious ground-floor living, generous bedroom and bathroom space and ample outdoor space. Its small size means the new residents will feel a sense of community which is important, especially to those moving from city to country. As with all our developments, it comprises a small number of high-quality properties. You might know some of our previous builds like Manor Farm, Cranmore and Bishops Mews, Wells.

Your company is very experienced. What do you think are the key elements of successful British house development and why?

It sounds simple, but people looking to buy new houses want hassle-free and spacious living. They are after certain boxes to be ticked and energy efficiency, light, and space are paramount. Natural light gives the feeling of warmth and space and is a key design requirement, as are spacious rooms and outdoor space that doesn’t feel cramped. We provide all of this.

What should a prospective homeowner look for when considering moving to a new development?

There are many factors to consider. The annual cost of the incoming services and general energy costs will be important to understand – the level of insulation and renewable energy implementation will be available from the builder, so you can familiarise yourself with the likely costs associated. Definitely focus on the quality of materials and finishes in the building; floors, doors, tiles, and even skirting boards – all important, and you want them to be robust, have longevity and style, and be functional. Thin cardboard doors are the worst!

Describe your design process

We spend a great deal of preparation time with architects to make sure the houses allow all aspects of life to be flexible and comfortable; for example, by making use of space downstairs for communal family living and designating spaces for home-offices. It is a time-consuming process, but ultimately we believe we strike the right balance in the houses we build.

Why did you choose East Harptree?

A few reasons. Firstly, it’s the perfect setting for anyone who wants access to Bath and Bristol. Secondly, the wonderfully rural location, high-up and overlooking the Chew Valley. There are plenty of forestry commission sites where you can walk nearby, plus decent pubs to visit. It seemed a good fit with our general ethos for a site which is to provide high-quality homes that appeal to a broad range of buyers.

How much did you consider the needs of the local community and environment?

We believe that good communication is very important. From the outset of this project, we issued a newsletter keeping neighbouring residents up-to-date with progress to make sure they were all aware of any possible disruptions. This went down well. We always want the local residents to embrace new developments, as it sets the precedent for future happy relationships. We also worked with the local authority to introduce many different methods to embrace the local ecology of our sites, including bat boxes, and intelligent landscaping.

We all learn from experience – what would you say your company has learned over the years? 

That people love good quality and well-thought out homes. And we have learnt to be flexible with clients; on many occasions we have had clients change aspects of the house to create a more tailored product for their lifestyle. This engages the customer in the housebuilding experience, and gives them a sense of excitement that they are part of the process.

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