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How to customise your new-build home

Buying off-plan enables you to make lots of the design decisions for your new home. We take a look at what's possible.

Words by: Property News Team

If the idea of buying a house that’s yet to be built sounds crazy to you, you’re not alone. This will likely be the most expensive purchase you will ever make, often after many years of hard slog and saving.

But bear with us, because buying off-plan might be the most exciting, affordable and stress-free route to your dream home.

Buying off-plan simply means putting a deposit down on a house before construction is complete.

You literally buy ‘off the plan’ that has already been approved by the council.

And while you can’t view your chosen property as a househunter normally might, modern developers offer real-life show homes and/or virtual 360-degree tours to help you feel confident in your purchase.

Can you customise a new construction home?

Absolutely you can.

What many would-be off-plan buyers don’t know is that, once reserved, you can personalise your home’s interior to suit your tastes and lifestyle, from the colour of the walls to the style of your kitchen worktops.

Get in early enough - before the build has begun - and you can even make changes to the layout.

Think of it as Grand Designs lite, with all the creative fun and none of the graft!

For the pick of the best plots, move quickly. “Homes with lots of flexible space, south-facing balconies and great views are always the first to be snapped up,” says Kimberley Benson, Senior Sales Manager at Barratt West London, which offers buyers the choice of a natural, white or grey colour scheme throughout.

Paul Furner, Head of Sales and Marketing at Cavanna Homes, agrees. “Once you’ve found a development you like, have a chat with the sales advisor, who will show you the range of house types available and help you choose which plot you’d like from the site plan,” he says.

“Reserving early gives you more options, and means we can work with you from the off to help you personalise the flooring, electrical fittings, tiling, wardrobes and more. It’s a good idea to explore the show home to discover the best places to put furniture, save space and benefit from natural light.”

Speed might be of the essence, but Tim Grey, Director of Llanmoor Homes, recommends carefully considering both your current and future lifestyle before signing on the dotted line.

“If you wish to work in your kitchen while interacting with your children, an open-plan living space may be top of your list. Does the layout allow for this?” he says.

“Similarly, a master bedroom with an en-suite bathroom may be of greater importance to a family than a young professional couple, who may prioritise a spare room that could be used as a home office.

"Take the time you need to make sure that you're buying the most suitable property for you.”

Once you’ve exchanged contracts, it’s time to start putting your own stamp on your soon-to-be home. Let’s take a look at how you might be able to do this, room by room.

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The kitchen

The kitchen is the room that homeowners most want to personalise, according to Furner at Cavanna Homes.

“Our buyers can opt to upgrade their appliances, including the oven, hob and hood, dishwasher and washing machine,” he says.

“They also get to choose the style and colour of the cupboards, worktops and tiles, creating their dream kitchen as standard.”

Llanmoor Homes sends buyers a copy of the plans for their perusal, before inviting them to view samples of the kitchen units, worktops and wall tiles available at their on-site sales centre to make their selection.

“We offer an excellent range from trendy retailers and manufacturers, many of whom can be found advertising in interior design magazines,” says Grey, adding that he is happy to discuss any additional, bespoke requirements, at extra cost.

“You might wish to add an additional wall or kitchen unit, or perhaps you’ve always wanted a breakfast bar or a freestanding American-style fridge freezer. We always seek to accommodate requests where possible.”

Barratt London gives homeowners a say in the colour and finish of their kitchen, including taps and splashbacks, as well as offering a choice between integrated and freestanding kitchen appliances.

The lounge

Cavanna Homes works closely with customers to help them personalise their living space as much as possible, while staying in budget.

Buyers are given the choice of adding carpets, vinyl or ceramic tiles, as well as deciding the paint colour, the position and style of electric sockets and the type of lighting, from pendant to tabletop.

“We also offer a curtain and blinds package, so that buyers can choose their window fixtures and have them installed ready for their first night in their new home,” says Furner.

The bedroom

In the bedroom, expect to be offered a choice of wall colour, flooring and storage solutions.

Cavanna Homes offers buyers the chance to customise their fitted wardrobe’s framework, panel material and internal storage features.

If you’ve got a spare bedroom and are now working from home more regularly, you might want to turn it into a study.

“We’re launching our bespoke home office fit-out package at our Bellevue development, which is coming soon to Stratton, near Bude,” says Furner.

“Buyers are asked which room they’d like to transform into a study, with their choice of furniture. Our team will then fit that room with integrated desks and shelving, power sockets and ethernet cables, ready for when they move in.”

The bathroom

Most developers we spoke to offered the option of a shower and glass screen over the bath, alongside your selection from a choice of wall tiles, floor tiles and brassware.

Barratt London lets buyers choose the style, finish and quantity of tiling and gives them the opportunity to add vanity units and extra mirrors.

Cavanna Homes properties come with en-suite master bedrooms and downstairs cloakrooms as standard.

Buyers can enjoy browsing a wide range of extra fittings and fixtures, including sink and bathroom storage units, taps, showers, shaver points, heated towel rails and bath screens.

The garden

Gardens tend to be the cherry on the cake of an off-plan home, meaning you’re more likely to be able to influence your outdoor space than your layout if you buy when construction is already underway.

“Gardens are typically the final stage of completing a new home,” says Dean Markall, Sales and Marketing Director at Martin Grant Homes.

“The front gardens of our properties are turfed and planted in accordance with our approved landscaping scheme, but turfing to the rear garden is available as an upgrade.”

Cavanna Homes properties all come with lawns, unless you’d prefer a terrace. “There’s the option to choose additional patio slabs, external lighting and power points, ready to host a summer BBQ with friends and family,” confirms Furner.

“Furthermore, if the garage is positioned alongside the garden, then a side garage door option is available. It’s ideal for grabbing bikes or camping equipment.”

We try to make sure that the information here is accurate at the time of publishing. But the property market moves fast and some information may now be out of date. Zoopla Property Group accepts no responsibility or liability for any decisions you make based on the information provided.