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The Times Bricks and Mortar - 5 January 2018

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FRIDAY JANUARY 5 2018
Beat the rail
fare rises
COMMUTER LOCATIONS
THAT SAVE YOU MONEY
PAGES 6-7
2018’s key interior design trends page 9
Fashionable buyers head to Milan page 10
2 Bricks & Mortar
1GP
Friday January 5 2018 | the times
HOME OF THE WEEK
This four-bedroom house in Sunninghill, Berkshire, is £2.5 million with Humberts
A house for
lovers of sport
Ascot Racecourse and Wentworth golf club
are on the doorstep, says Anna Temkin
P
roperties on the
Wentworth estate in
Virginia Water, Surrey,
with their grand façades
and whose past residents
include Sir Elton John,
tend to overshadow the
homes in surrounding
neighbourhoods. Buyers are attracted by
the estate’s exclusivity and easy access to
Wentworth golf course. Yet, without
straying too far, a savvy buyer can find
charm and convenience elsewhere.
Neither is lacking in the Garden
House, a gabled four-bedroom property
dating from the 1880s in Sunninghill,
Berkshire. Situated on a private road
opposite the park gates leading to
Virginia Water, it sits in one and a
half acres and is on the market with
Humberts for £2.5 million.
Internally the house has changed
substantially under the present owners,
who extended and redesigned the
kitchen (to the tune of £75,000). Most
of the rooms have been renovated,
with the artistic use of colour, fabrics
and lighting throughout. The entrance
hall has been designed to emulate
an art gallery, with prints, canvases
and decorative pieces displayed at
varying heights.
Within the grounds is a large walled
garden, three stables and a paddock.
A games room, which could be turned
into a studio or home office, is an
offshoot of the garage. A pool house
with a changing room and kitchen
means there is no need to traipse back
and forth between the main house and
the outdoor pool when entertaining.
Horse owners and golf enthusiasts
will be encouraged by the proximity of
Ascot Racecourse, Guards Polo Club
and Wentworth golf club.
David Adams of Humberts says: “We
have had three viewings so far; all of
those interested were surprised that you
could buy something with that much
land at that price in the area.
“The other unusual thing is that it is
a historic home in an area that is mainly
new-build; it is difficult to get that
acreage for less than £3 million.”
GET THE LOOK
Left: teal paint in
the sitting room,
Farrow & Ball
Hague Blue,
£45 for 2.5 litres.
Red chair bought
in a garage sale
and upholstered
in Timorous
Beasties fabric,
£120 a metre.
Far right: dining
room light is
an Etch Web
pendant light
from Tom
Dixon, £1,020
Prime properties
Country living
Riverside haven
South Cheriton, Somerset
Netherbury, Dorset
WHAT YOU GET This grade II listed
detached Georgian house is set in 21
acres. It has four bedrooms (one en suite),
a games room, drawing room, dining
room, kitchen/breakfast room, family
room, conservatory, utility room, shower
room and a two-bedroom annexe.
WHERE IS IT? In South Cheriton, a
village between Sherborne (8 miles) and
Shaftesbury (13 miles). It is two miles
from Templecombe, where there is a
railway station with services to London
that take 2 hours 15 minutes.
UPSIDE There’s plenty to keep a young
family amused.
DOWNSIDE The sitting room’s central
wood-burning stove.
PRICE £1.85 million
CONTACT Jackson-Stops, 01935 810141,
jackson-stops.co.uk
WHAT YOU GET A Georgian
millhouse and a former water mill dating
from the 17th and 18th centuries have
been joined to create this property. The
main house includes five bedrooms (one
en suite), two bathrooms, three reception
rooms, a kitchen/dining room and utility
room, while the mill building houses a
music room, library, reception hall, wine
store and cloakroom. It comes with
fishing rights in the River Brit, which
runs along the property’s boundary.
WHERE IS IT? Four miles north of
Bridport and six miles from West Bay,
which featured in ITV’s Broadchurch.
UPSIDE The gardens are a highlight.
DOWNSIDE The village has no shop.
PRICE £1.65 million
CONTACT Humberts, 01308 422215,
humberts.com
the times | Friday January 5 2018
Bricks & Mortar 3
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ON THE MARKET
Make the move to
a cut-price home
Kensington, W8
Period grandeur meets contemporary glamour in this refurbished
four-bedroom semi-detached house. There is wooden flooring
throughout, entertaining space on two levels, a balcony, converted
basement with a gym, and a treehouse in the rear garden.
£4.95 million, down from £5.6 million, johndwood.co.uk
Prestbury,
Cheshire
The front door of this
five-bedroom house is
surrounded by glazing and
opens on to a double-height
hall with oak and steel
trusses and a staircase.
Accessed via a long, gated
drive, the 7,000 sq ft house
is hidden from view.
£3.495 million,
down from £3.85 million,
jackson-stops.co.uk
Cruckmeole,
Shropshire
This grade II* listed house
with six bedrooms and an
acre of land is in need of
modernisation. With its
wood panelling, ceiling
beams, brick flooring and
inglenook fireplace,
entering the dining room is
like stepping back in time.
£599,950,
down from £675,000,
struttandparker.com
Literary links
Edmonton, N9
WHAT YOU GET This grade II* listed
three-storey house has five bedrooms, a
bathroom, two reception rooms, period
wooden flooring, panelling and staircase,
open fireplaces, a dining room, kitchen
and workshop. The cottage has a blue
plaque commemorating the writers
Charles and Mary Lamb, who lived in
the property in the early 19th century.
WHERE IS IT? On Church Street in
Edmonton, moments from Edmonton
Green railway station, which has
services to Liverpool Street station.
UPSIDE It has the peaceful feel of a
country retreat.
DOWNSIDE The narrow front façade.
PRICE £1.25 million
CONTACT Fine & Country,
020 3475 1476, fineandcountry.com
Claire Carponen
Seaview,
Isle of Wight
This Edwardian-style
modern house has five
bedrooms and lawns that
roll down to the foreshore
of Seagrove Bay. It has
two bedrooms opening on
to a glazed balcony
overlooking the Solent.
£2.95 million,
down from £3.5 million,
struttandparker.com
Claire Carponen
4 Bricks & Mortar
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Friday January 5 2018 | the times
COMMENT
The public or the pundits — who will be right?
Anne Ashworth
H
Property and Personal Finance Editor
ouse prices are set to
rise in 2018. Or so say
those members of the
public who, when
quizzed by YouGov on
their expectations for
the new year, seemed
chipper about the
outlook for almost everything. So much
for the view that the British cannot look
on the bright side of life.
Property pundits adopted a more
nuanced position, however. While
mortgage finance will remain cheap in
2018, despite the upward trend in
interest rates, affordability will continue
to be constrained by miserly pay
settlements. There is a sense that the age
of widespread, big house-price increases
in London and the southeast has ended,
although amid the torpor there will be
bright spots, such as Cheltenham in
Gloucestershire (up by an average of 13
per cent in 2017, according to Halifax).
Stepping into the limelight this year will
be the Midlands and northwest England,
the new opportunity zones for buyers.
This does not mean that London will
be entirely in the doldrums. In bits of
southeast London and commuter towns,
such as Luton, the mood is expected to
be buoyant. Gentrification has not come
to a standstill, although regeneration is
the more fashionable term for the
process. Spot a shop or a bar with
filament lamps, such as the one pictured
right, and you will know that the area is
on the cusp of greatness.
What is in doubt, however, is the will
of housebuilders to deliver the required
quantity of new homes in these places
— or anywhere else. The pundits argue
that there is a gap between the public
commitment of these companies to a
mass-housebuilding programme and
their private intentions.
One insider remarked: “Most of the
bosses like the status quo — with the
bonuses to them — and they also lack
the workforce necessary to substantially
step up output.” As a result of these
factors property values will continue to
be supported by a shortage of new
homes. The supply of second-hand
homes is also likely to be low, since
optimism about prices does not remove
the obstacles to relocation: stamp duty
and the cost involved in taking a step up
the ladder.
Statistic of the Week
What will be the big new thing in
property this year? The answer,
according to some senior figures in the
industry, is the potential impact of “the
end of ownership”.
Consumers rent rather than buy
films and music, thanks to Netflix and
Spotify. Will this same mindset mean
that people are more willing to embrace
renting a home for a much longer period
than before? Or will those who are
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excluded from the housing ladder
continue, rightly, to feel dispossessed?
These issues will be at the forefront of
debate as financial institutions put more
money into build-to-rent projects for
millennials and families. British Property
Federation figures show that there are
95,918 build-to-rent schemes across the
UK, including 17,001 completed, 24,012
under construction and a further 54,905
with planning permission.
This indicates that build-to-rent
should, in future, pose considerable
competition to buy-to-let investors.
Tenants like build-to-rent facilities, such
as concierge services and communal
laundries. However, for the moment,
amateur landlords will be less interested
in the threat of the professionalisation of
the rental sector than in the direction
of rents. The average rent rose by 2.3 per
cent to £849 in 2017 — our Statistic of
the Week, from Your Move’s index.
The pace of growth is predicted to
continue this year and by 2022 the
average rent could be 15.5 per cent
more expensive than today, or so
Savills forecasts.
Such estimates may persuade more
amateurs to stay in the business, despite
tax changes. Yet they should be aware
that long-term tenants may begin to
prefer the branded experience of
build-to-rent living, with its superfast
broadband for speedy access to Netflix
and Spotify. Will these comforts be a
satisfactory long-term substitute for
homeownership? Probably not.
6 Bricks & Mortar
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Friday January 5 2018 | the times
COVER STORY
Beat the rail
fare rises —
by moving
farther away
The best way to save money on your daily
commute is to add a few minutes to your
journey to the office, reports Carol Lewis
C
ommuters reeling from
the news that rail fare
rises mean they could
spend as much as
13 per cent of their
salary on season tickets
might start the year
by rethinking their
journey to work. For many this will
mean having to decide between cheaper
property and a longer, more costly
commute, and more expensive property
and a shorter, cheaper commute —
or simply commuting less.
Nick Leeming, the chairman of
Jackson-Stops, an estate agency, says:
“Commuters to London are going to be
feeling the strain of their annual rail
fare in 2018, with the 3.4 per cent
average increase in price outstripping
wage growth for many. For those
moving within the London commuter
belt, and families moving out of central
London, location will be key. It isn’t just
about the average house price — many
people will have first-hand experience
of train delays, engineering works
and strikes, and will be looking closely
at the length, quality and cost of
their commute.
“The reliability of trains is something
buyers consider when they move to an
area, and there are stark differences
between the train operators. It’s no
good the journey taking 25 minutes if it
is blighted by delays every day and ends
up taking much longer.”
Jamie Freeman, a director at
Haringtons, the property-buying
ng agency,
agrees. “Commuting costs are a huge
consideration for buyers,
especially young families
moving out of London, where
the husband and wife work.
The annual season-ticket
cost can make or break
a [property] sale. However,
reliability is also key. On our
advice, one of our buyers
changed their search from
Haywards Heath to
Petersfield to avoid Southern
Rail, and we expect much of the
he
same as we move into the spring.”
ng.”
After a year of rail strikes and
nd
disruption, train reliability is
just as important as the cost.
Jackson-Stops looked at a rangee of factors
before declaring Luton in Bedfordshire
the top commuter town for 2018.
Its research shows that the average
property price in the town is £252,896,
with annual house-price growth of
10 per cent. A year’s season ticket to
London zones 1-6 costs £5,256, and
parking is £840 a year, but trains are
frequent, taking as little as 24 minutes
into London, and train-operator
performance is 79.5 per cent — plus you
will get a seat in the morning, according
The Bawn, near Fleet in Hampshire, has four bedrooms and is on the market for £
On the cover a three-bedroom cottage in Lacey Green, Buckinghamshire, is on th
In Dorking, Surrey,
this contemporary
four-bedroom home,
with views, is on sale
through Jackson-Stops
for £970,000
to Jackson-Stops. Other top-rated
locations for London commuters
lo
highlighted by the estate agency
hi
include Dorking in Surrey, Slough
inc
Berkshire, Tonbridge in Kent
in B
Weybridge in Surrey. In
and W
Scotland,
S
cotlan Savills, the estate agency,
highlights
h
ighlight North Berwick in East
Lothian as an aspirational home for
Edinburgh
Edinburg commuters.
However, exclusive research by Savills
Howev
for The Times shows that a small move
away from established commuter zones
can save you money.
Lawrence Bowles, a research associate
with Savills, has calculated that moving
less than ten miles from Welwyn Garden
City to Stevenage, both in Hertfordshire,
would add three minutes each way to a
commute into London (23.2 hours a
year) and £816 to the cost of an annual
season ticket. Overall, though, you
would save £7,782 a year, because the
Annual saving on housing and travel
London commuters
Relocating from
To
Welwyn Garden City Stevenage
£7,782
Cambridge
Ely
£26,954
Chelmsford
Colchester
£1,458
Sevenoaks
Tunbridge Wells
£6,523
Woking
Fleet
£7,335
Princes Risborough
Bicester North
£6,642
Leighton Buzzard
Milton Keynes
£179
Hamstead
£235
Birmingham
Perry Barr
Manchester
Burnage
Gatley
£4,817
Bridgend
£2,639
Polmont
£5,871
East Kilbride
£5,287
Cardiff
Pontyclun
Edinburgh
Linlithgow
Glasgow
Giffnock
Manufacturing a housing solution
They’re fast to build
and of sound quality.
David Byers looks
at the potential of
prefabricated homes
I
n a factory just outside Bedford sits
the answer to Britain’s housing crisis.
Here, workers inspect a line of
containers — apartments in various
stages of construction — and
scribble on clipboards.
Welcome to Vision Modular Systems’
housing warehouse, a place where
prefabricated homes are put together. It
is a far cry from the dust and dirt of a
traditional building site and looks more
like something out of the futuristic
movie Wall-E. Entire homes are made
here: ovens and radiators, even toilet-roll
holders, are fitted and beds are topped
with mattresses. When finished, the
units are placed on trucks and driven
53 miles to Holloway in north London,
where they will be homes for students.
Analysts predict that 2018 will be the
breakthrough year for modular housing
(the preferred name for prefabs).
This week Berkeley Homes, one of
Britain’s biggest luxury builders,
announced that a new 160,000 sq ft
factory in Ebsfleet, Kent, will produce
1,000 of the homes a year; the company
eventually wants a quarter of its homes
to be prefabricated. More than 15,000
homes in Britain are built this way each
year, but the government wants to
increase access to finance for modular
builders, with the aim of raising the
figure to 100,000 a year by 2020.
Why is modular housing booming?
Factory building requires fewer builders,
at a time of chronic shortage in the
industry (60 per cent fewer per property
built, according to Vision); it is a much
faster process, often taking as little as a
month to build; and the technology is
getting better, ensuring a quality
product. The modular housebuilder
Nhouse, which is setting up a factory in
Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, claims
that it can build a house in 20 days. “It’s
not necessarily the case that modular is
cheaper, but it’s more efficient,” says
A modular home in Highgate, north London, built by Facit Homes
the times | Friday January 5 2018
Bricks & Mortar 7
1GP
MARKET INTELLIGENCE
00,000 through Strutt & Parker.
£90
he market for £635,000 with Savills
cost of housing (based on paying back
a 75 per cent loan-to-value mortgage
on an average detached house within
2km of the station) in Stevenage is so
much lower than in Welwyn — that’s
£335 saved for every hour extra spent
commuting. “This shows how moving
to a slightly less-established commuter
town can result in big savings in housing
costs, in some cases adding only a
few minutes to the daily commute,”
Bowles says.
The pattern was repeated across the
country, with the cost of commuting
balanced by lower housing costs (see
panel left). Not all the savings were as
dramatic as that made by those moving
from Welwyn to Stevenage, though. A
move from Leighton Buzzard in
Bedfordshire to Milton Keynes in
Buckinghamshire would save London
commuters £179 a year — only £5 for
every extra hour spent travelling. And for
Adam Challis, the head of residential
research at JLL, the property consultant.
Supporters of modular homes argue
that they are more energy efficient and
durable than conventional houses.
Why is choice limited?
The majority of modular properties in
Britain are flats, because smaller units
are more profitable for developers and
are easier to transport. “Land values
are so high that everyone looks to
increase their density,” says Mark
Farmer, the chief executive of Cast,
a construction consultant.
Farmer believes more housebuilders
will be forced to announce modular
construction divisions this year, before
the skills shortage leads to diminishing
quality in their on-site projects.
Are larger, luxury homes on the way?
There are family-sized modular
properties being built, but these are in
the minority. The problem with building
some the savings mean much more time
aboard a train. A move from Cambridge
to Ely would save £26,954 a year, but
would mean 178 hours more travelling.
The largest number of people who
commute by rail in the UK are travelling
to London, with 60 per cent of
commuters travelling by train, according
to data from Countrywide, the estate
agency. Train travel is also popular in
Glasgow (24 per cent of commuters),
Birmingham (23 per cent), Cardiff
(21 per cent) and Liverpool (17 per cent).
The most popular commuter locations
are Dunton Green in Sevenoaks, Kent,
with 2,056 daily commuters, and east
Billericay in Basildon, Essex, with 1,676.
The high costs of commuting have
already caused some to rethink their
morning journey, with 10,692 people
moving from the commuter belt into
London in the past year, according to
research by David Fell at Countrywide.
The proportion of London properties
sold to buyers from the home counties
has risen from 9 per cent to 12 per cent
in the past ten years.
While moving out of the city is still
popular (50,254 people moved from
London to the commuter belt in the past
year) there is a trend for moving farther
afield. “Ten years ago a country-home
buyer would automatically buy a
first-class season ticket to London. Now
few people commute full-time,” says Tom
Hudson, the head of country house
search for Middleton Advisors, a buying
agency. “People balance the pain and
cost of commuting with the efficiency
of working from home. People are
happy to move farther out if they have
good connections — with broadband
and phone signal as important as
transport connections.”
Scotland
The new indicators of
an up-and-coming area,
tablet editions and
at thetimes.co.uk
This five-bedroom house in Redhill, Surrey, is £1.35 million through Savills
What’s in store for
the market in 2018
I
f you like it when the housing
market is either soaring or
subsiding, 2017 was a
disappointment. The performance
was unexciting. Prices edged up
slightly, the north-south divide
narrowed (a bit) and stamp duty
caused many to choose staying
put over relocating. Does the year
ahead offer more thrills?
What will happen to house prices?
Pundits are predicting a market “lacking
in momentum”, as a result of economic
uncertainty and the squeeze on incomes
from rising inflation and zero pay
growth. Savills expects an average 1 per
cent increase across the UK, but a
decline of 2 per cent in London.
Robert Gardner, the chief economist
at Nationwide Building Society, says that
the impact of Brexit on the economy and
property values is difficult to discern.
The loss of City jobs would deal a
blow to the London market, but if
manufacturing businesses were
adversely affected by the terms of the
exit deal from the EU, parts of the
north and Midlands would be hit.
bigger modular properties is that you
can’t fit them on lorries, so they have to
be transported by road in components,
which costs more and is not as
environmentally friendly.
The most established builder of larger
modular homes is Huf Haus, known for
its distinctive wood frame and glass
luxury houses, which take about a week
to erect and cost about £300 a square
foot. Others include Stommel Haus and
Facit Homes.
Does this mean no more double-digit
property price rises?
Such has been the pace of increase in
London in recent years that the average
price in the capital is more than 38 per
cent above its pre-financial crisis level in
real terms (taking inflation into account),
according to data from Joe Sarling of
Lichfields, the property consultant.
This suggests that it was inevitable
that London would pause for breath.
Last year’s stars included the East
Midlands, where prices went up by 7 per
cent, but are still a mere 0.5 per cent
above the level of 2008. While the north
and the Midlands are forecast to perform
strongly, there is a conviction that the
soaraway house-price rises of the past
decade will not be repeated.
Is anyone investing?
Modular homes are backed by billions of
pounds of Chinese money and expertise,
and more investment is on the way from
Germany and Scandinavia. The China
National Building Material Company
has partnered with the housing
association Your Housing Group and the
developer Welink Group in a £2.5 billion
venture to build 25,000 modular homes
over the next five years in Yorkshire, the
northwest and the Midlands.
What difference will the first-time buyer
stamp-duty exemption make?
Thanks to a change announced in last
year’s budget, first-time buyers will pay
no stamp duty on a property valued up
to £300,000 (or up to £500,000 in
London). The concession is seen as
generous, but would-be owner-occupiers
will continue to find it difficult to raise
the deposit required for a mortgage.
Richard Sexton, a director at e.surv,
the surveying group, says that
In Woodham Ferrers near Chelmsford, Essex, this grade II* listed
eight-bedroom property is £1.995 million through Jackson-Stops
A modular answer to
the housing crisis
Read more online and
in tablet editions
thetimes.co.uk
housebuilders and lenders must do more
for Generation Rent in 2018. He says:
“We should be incentivising last-time
buyers to downsize from large family
properties, so that these homes can be
freed up.”
What about the supply of homes
for sale?
The stock of homes on estate agency
books remains at a record low, and
there is scant expectation that this trend
will alter. About 104,000 homes were
sold each month in 2017, showing that
the market is more resilient than it
seems. However, in 2018 the affluent will
be deterred from putting their properties
on the market by stamp duty, and
affordability will be a problem for
everyone else.
Tarrant Parsons, an economist at the
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
(RICS), predicts no more than 1.2 million
homes will change hands this year.
How will the different regions perform?
Prices in the smarter suburbs of London
are predicted to dip by an average of
2 per cent this year. A pall will also
spread over the elite commuter towns.
Capital Economics, the consultant,
sums up the mood: “Looking ahead, with
those buyers who are still active already
at the limit of what they can borrow, and
others priced out of the market entirely,
a resurgence in demand is unlikely. That,
in turn, points to stagnant transactions
and house prices in the future.”
The Midlands, the north and Scotland
may edge ahead. The mood should start
to improve in 2019, according to Savills.
Will the promised new homes start
to appear this year?
The government aspires to deliver
300,000 homes a year, but scarcely
anyone believes that this target will be
met, especially since the measures
designed to boost supply may not be
fully implemented until 2020. Lewis
Johnston, the RICS parliamentary affairs
manager, says that these policies “don’t
add up to the kind of resolute,
large-scale supply strategy we need’’.
Another barrier is housebuilders’
existing shortage of resources, including
skilled workers, that may be exacerbated
by Brexit. The failure to build enough
homes has supported prices for the past
decade and there seems no reason to
believe that this will not continue.
Anne Ashworth
the times | Friday January 5 2018
Bricks & Mortar 9
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INTERIORS
H
ealthy living in the
home is expected to
be a hot topic in 2018.
Interior designers
are thinking about
how to create calm,
nature-inspired spaces
that help people to
disconnect from the digital world, while
product designers are launching
furniture and gadgets that improve air
quality, reduce toxicants, and enhance
sleep and mental wellbeing.
Bea Addis, the head of community
for Eporta, the interior design sourcing
website, says: “Interior design used to be
about achieving a certain look and
acting as a status symbol. Now it is
focused on helping clients achieve a
personalised sanctuary. It’s great to see
that design is being acknowledged as
something that can have a profound
impact on wellbeing.”
So how can you create your own
wellness sanctuary at home?
Adding plants to your home is one of
the easiest ways to boost your health
According to the British Woodworking Federation, natural materials in the home can make you feel happier
Biophilia
Adding plants to your house is one of the
easiest ways to boost your physical and
mental health. The obsession with filling
our homes with greenery was recognised
last year by the RHS Chelsea Flower
Show, which awarded the At Home with
Plants installation by Indoor Garden
Design and Ikea a silver medal.
Some plants are particularly good at
purifying the air. Peace lilies remove
common household chemicals,
including benzene, formaldehyde,
trichloroethylene, ammonia, toluene
and xylene.
Ian Drummond, the creative director
of Indoor Garden Design, recommends
Sansevieria, known as the snake plant or
mother-in-law’s tongue, which cleanses
the air while you sleep, absorbing carbon
dioxide and chemicals while giving out
reviving oxygen. He also likes aloe vera,
which will help you to monitor air
quality. “When there are harmful
chemicals in the air it will produce
brown spots, while filtering out things
like formaldehyde and benzene from
indoor air.”
Reduce toxicants
Have you ever considered that your
armchair is full of chemicals? Ecosofa,
a company that handcrafts furniture in
Nottingham, has collaborated with
Nottingham Trent University to produce
a range of eco-friendly pieces using FSC
timber and materials with no toxic
chemicals, which help to control humidity,
temperature, sound and allergens in the
home. Its Mozart sofa has a beech, birch
and plywood frame, and is padded with
a blend of wool, horsehair, layered
Design
trends
for 2018
Make your home
a picture of health
From air-purifying plants to decluttering, Laura Whateley
outlines how to turn your home into a sanctuary of wellness
flock, natural coir and latex rubber.
Lakeland Paints has created an
atmosphere-purifying paint, which
absorbs, filters and neutralises smells,
chemicals and pollutants. It offers a
colour-matching service, too, so you can
pick something to enhance your mood.
Colour psychologists say that yellows
induce vibrancy and positivity, greens
are soothing, pinks offer warmth, and
blues serenity and optimism.
Natural materials in the home can
make you feel discernibly happier,
according to the British Woodworking
Federation (BWF), after surveying 1,000
British homeowners. “It seems that the
desire to stem the tide of plastic in our
lives has spread beyond the bag, with
one in four homeowners planning to
decrease the amount of plastics in their
home this year,” says Matthew Mahoney
of the BWF. “Wood remains our
preference. It’s not only great to touch,
Last year jewel tones were the talk of
the town, and plywood was the material
à la mode. This year, apart from a focus
on “wellness”, Scandi
influences remain strong,
along with Malibu glamour.
Ombré
“Ombré [a graduated fade of
one colour into another] is a
trend straight from the
catwalk,” says Karen Howes of
Taylor Howes, a luxury interior design
practice. “You will see it in many
forms, most notably wallpaper.”
Nadia McCowan Hill, the resident
style adviser at Wayfair, the homeware
company, says: “Ombré’s dyed quality
lends itself to soft furnishings.
Upcycling an old chest of drawers
in graduated paint shades is creative,
yet cost effective.” Wayfair’s ombré
drum pendant lampshade, pictured
above, is £22.99.
A mattress with a natural
filling, such as one by
Button & Sprung, will
take perspiration away
from the body
Ultra violet
Since Pantone announced that Ultra
Violet, a purple hue, will be its 2018
Colour of the Year, plum
and amethyst tones have
been creeping back into
homeware. Anne-Laure
Couplet, the global brand
d
director
at Maisons du
Monde, says: “You can make
the purple effect as big or small
as you like, for example with a striking
sofa like our Scala chaise longue [£524],
or be more low-key with towels and
candles in the bathroom.”
Inside-out furniture
Expect a move towards furniture with
visible frames. This is noticeable in
Anthropologie’s home range, such as
its BOSC Yas armchair, £2,298, pictured
right, and lacquered Haverhill rocking
chair (£898). Eporta, the interior
design sourcing website, noted a rise in
but can improve indoor air quality by
regulating humidity.”
Sleep better
Natural light is important to regulate the
body clock and balance sleep and wake
cycles. Position furniture near windows,
structural and pared-back furniture
last year, particularly hanging racks or
seats with raw forms and clear outlines.
California chic
This look is about carefree
mismatching: combining monochrome
with splashes of colour, or luxury
tan leathers and sheepskin rugs
with hand-crafted pottery.
Susan White, the marketing director
of Hillarys, the
interiors company,
says: “There’s
something effortlessly
cool about California
style. It’s casual and
modern, with a relaxed
attitude to mixing
fabrics and textures.”
Summer Scandi
The heavy hues of hygge
will be replaced by a
cut back bushes and trees that block
direct sunlight, add mirrors to bounce
light around darker rooms, consider
frosted or tinted glass for external doors
and use light-reflective paint that allows
natural light to reflect off walls.
Think about your bedroom design, too,
says Adam Black of Button & Sprung,
the mattress and bed manufacturer.
Mattress sales have been booming in
recent years. When choosing the best,
Black recommends natural fillings,
which take moisture and perspiration
away from the body, and should last
more than ten years. When it comes to
bedding, cotton, silk and other
breathable natural fibres will help to
regulate body temperature, keep you
warm in winter and cool in summer.
Mindfulness
A bit of simple tidying can help your
sleep and general wellness, says Rachel
Forster, owner of the interior design
company Forster Inc. “Detoxing your
home via decluttering and reconfiguring
storage is a great starting point. ”
The latest decluttering trend is
“Swedish death cleaning”, or döstädning.
Look at your stuff and think about what
will happen to it after you die, will
anyone you leave behind be happy to
find it? Only keep things that represent
your “best self”.
Zen spaces
For people with high budgets and the
space for a home gym, it is all about the
holistic “studio space” now, rather than
the work-out room with pumping sound
systems, says Louisa Brodie, the head of
acquisitions at Banda Property, the
developer. Think space for yoga “floor
or aerial”, pilates and barre. The interior
designer Janine Stone, says: “Zen-like
atmospheres have seen growth in the
private residence, including zones where
separation between inside and outside
space is blurred by the clever use of
glazing treatments and planting.”
cooler Scandi colour palette of
washed greys, pinks, whites and light
woods. Think minimalist with a
naturalist edge.
Figurative art reinvented
Polly Dickens, the creative director
of Habitat, says: “2018 is set to be
the year of the figurative trend within
interiors — a focus on the illustrated
human form, with body parts used
in abstract ways.” Figurative
designs from the
1950s will be
modernised,
w
with deconstructed
ffacial components
rreassembled to
m
make “head-shaped”
cceramic vases,
o
or fabrics that have
eeyes as a central
d
design motif.
A
Anna Temkin
10 Bricks & Mortar
1GP
Friday January 5 2018 | the times
OVERSEAS
Follow the fashionable crowd to Milan
GETTY IMAGES; REX/SHUTTERSTOCK
The Italian city is the
star attraction for
UK buyers seeking
a better lifestyle —
and escaping Brexit,
says Liz Rowlinson
I
t may have played host to the
reunion of five supermodels of
the 1990s sashaying in gold lamé
down the catwalk during autumn
Fashion Week, yet the city of
Milan is no obvious beauty.
Rome has more grandeur,
Florence has Renaissance
splendour, and Venice? What can
compete with La Serenissima?
Yet Italy’s fashion capital and finance
powerhouse has been edging on to the
radar of international buyers, with Brexit
playing a key role. “While a number of
companies are considering moving to
Milan from London, we are seeing
Italians returning home as a result of the
referendum,” says Luca D’Angelo, an
associate with Sotheby’s International
Realty. “With property in Milan much
more affordable than in London, they
are spotting opportunities.”
Anthony Lassman, the founder of
Nota Bene Global, a company that
sources property for wealthy clients,
agrees. “We have Italians, mainly
Chelsea/Knightsbridge residents in
banking or finance, looking at the
options. When faced with a choice
between Frankfurt or Milan [as financial
centres], Milan will always win for
lifestyle. The glamour of La Scala [the
opera house] and the best luxury
shopping aside, it’s strategically placed
for easy access to Lake Como, the
Alps, Monaco and the French Riviera,
or Portofino.”
Any of the estimated 600,000 Italians
living in the UK who return to Milan
after a few years away will find a city
much changed. Italy’s centre of fashion,
design and trade fairs also has the IraqiBritish architect Zaha Hadid’s twisty
44-storey Generali Tower, and several
skyscrapers are under construction.
“During the 1980s and 1990s little
moved forward in Milan,” says Roberto
Magaglio, a managing partner at Engel
& Volkers estate agency in Milan. “Yet
Expo 2015 [which involved 14 countries
and attracted 22 million visitors]
changed that and brought with it the
much-needed improvement of
infrastructure, including two new metro
lines and districts. It was the chance for
A four-bedroom loft near the Corso Sempione, popular with families, is on sale for €2.3 million (Engel & Volkers)
were domestic, but now the figure is 85
per cent, with interest from France,
Russia, the US and UK-based expats,”
Magaglio says. “Some of these might be
the wealthy parents of children studying
at the Istituto Marangoni [fashion
school], one of the best entry points into
the fashion world.”
Most non-Italian buyers have a
business connection, according to
the UK-based estate agency
Knight Frank. Its sales have
increased 9 per cent in the
past year. “There’s a good
choice of international
schools for families
relocating for two or
the city to show off and suddenly people
three years, and they
The navigli are a
began to visit not only for business, but
favour living in the
system of interconnected
for the fashion, culture and lifestyle.”
historical centre,”
canals around Milan.
Milan is a buzzing city that has
says Rupert Fawcett, a
Right: supermodel Carla
attracted more tourists than Rome for
partner at the agency.
Bruni wearing gold lamé
the past three years, but why invest
Badly bombed during the
at Milan Fashion Week
here? After a sluggish few years of
Second World War, Milan
negative price growth, its property
is largely a city of apartments.
market has stabilised and is predicted to
Within the historical centre, close
go into positive growth this year.
to the gothic Duomo di Milano,
Corso
According to Engel & Volkers, sales
the Quadrilatero d’Oro (the
Sempione
Porto Nuova
volumes year on year increased by
fashion district), is considered
21.9 per cent in 2016, with the
the prime area. Bordered by Via
Brera
average price at €2,960 a square
Monte Napoleone, Via
City Life
metre — more than Rome (at
Alessandro Manzoni, Via della
Castello
The fashion
€2,860 a square metre), but less
Spiga and Corso Venezia, its
Sforzesco
district
than Venice (€3,050 a square
luxury shops make up
Duomo
metre). The market has also become
12 per cent of Milan’s gross
MILAN
more global. Three international
domestic product.
airports and a new 90-minute train
Prices for the best apartments
link to Florence make it well placed to
are €11,700 to €13,600 a square
One mile
serve the wider catchment area. “Until
metre, and Sotheby’s is selling a
A7
two years ago 90 per cent of our buyers
three-bedroom penthouse
apartment with views of the duomo
for €5 million.
The other fashionable area is Brera,
the historic heart of bohemian Milan,
with its Fine Arts Academy, boutiques,
antique shops and monthly market.
Prices are €9,800 to €11,600 a square
metre for luxury properties, with
renovated mid-range apartments
ranging from €7,800 to €9,700 a square
metre. This area, along with Magenta
and Sempione, is popular with families,
says D’Angelo.
“They offer apartments in historical
buildings with central gardens close to
the Parco Sempione [the central green
lung of the city],” he says. “For villas,
Via XX Settembre is sought after.”
Close to this prestigious street is a
one-bedroom apartment ripe for
refurbishment in an elegant period block
for €330,000 with Knight Frank.
Detached houses are hard to find, but
there are some super-stylish conversions
of industrial buildings. Close to the vast
15th-century Castello Sforzesco,
fashionable Piazza Castello and a
neighbourhood of trendy cocktail bars,
is a beautiful conversion of a former
printing works. With 6m-high ceilings,
industrial west-facing windows and
concrete walls, it offers a vast living area
that is perfect for showing off
contemporary artwork. Above a
stainless-steel kitchen, part screened off
with glass, are four bedrooms reached
from a gallery, and below is a
basement with a swimming pool.
It’s on sale for €2.3 million through
Engel & Volkers.
Best for new-build homes are
the two “new” areas. CityLife,
to the west, is the former
site of the Milan trade
fair, which is now a
futuristic, 90-acre
mixed-use community
with about 1,300
apartments, as well as
restaurants and businesses
within three skyscrapers — those
designed by Hadid, Daniel
Libeskind and Arata Isozaki.
However, more of a gamechanger for the city, according
to Magaglio, is Porto Nuovo, the
regenerated business district to the
east of the centre. “With various
skyscrapers, including Italy’s tallest,
the Unicredit Tower, it also includes
cultural centres and a park.
Properties in the award-winning
Bosco Verticale [vertical garden twin
residential towers] start from about
€700,000 and command good rental
rates,” he says. “It’s been the city’s
most popular development for
foreign buyers.”
ASK THE EXPERT
I tried to sell my flat last year,
but buyers were put off by the
high service charges. I believe
the managing agents have
incorrectly calculated the
charges using the gross square
footage for each flat rather than
the usable square footage.
What can I do?
Service charges are calculated by
apportioning the estimated or actual
“relevant costs” incurred by a landlord
or management company between
individual properties in a block or estate.
The apportionment is specified as a fixed
percentage in the lease, or it may allow
the landlord to use his or her discretion
to calculate a fair or reasonable figure. In
many cases the lease will apportion the
relevant costs using a formula based on
the floor areas of each unit.
Surveyors recognise three ways of
measuring floor areas — gross floor
area, gross internal area or net internal
area (usable floor area) — which differ
according to whether various walls,
corridors and stairs etc are included. The
appropriate method depends on what is
specified in the lease. Whether a
challenge can be made depends on why
the system of measurement is believed
to be wrong. If a landlord has used a
formula not permitted by the lease, the
leaseholder can challenge the service
charges in court, or by applying to the
appropriate tribunal for a determination
under section 27A of the Landlord and
Tenant Act 1985. If the landlord has
adopted the method of apportionment
required by the lease, the tenant cannot
generally complain, even if the
apportionment is unfair or unreasonable.
The tribunals can vary fixed service
charge apportionments under part IV of
the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987, but
those powers apply only in very special
circumstances.
You can challenge the service charges
if your landlord has failed to measure in
accordance with the terms of the lease. If
you simply think the measurement
system is unfair, it is unlikely that you
can challenge the apportionment.
Mark Loveday
The writer is a barrister with Tanfield
Chambers. Email your question to:
brief.encounter@thetimes.co.uk
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