With the property market cooling off, the key for developers, builders and renovation specialists is to ensure that their stock shifts. And one of the best ways of doing this is to make the property as saleable and as desirable as possible. Quality flooring can play a crucial role in generating that desire.
Natural wood textures
“There’s a huge thing for natural materials at the moment. People love stone and timber – they love natural materials rather than carpet,” says Michael McCarthy, co-founder of Equitas Properties, which develops new builds and carries out conversions in London and Dublin. “We’ve tried lots of different looks and the best look and feel for us is timber floors, with tiles or stone in the bathroom, depending on where it is and the value.”
One of the main advantages of speccing properties with wood floors is that buyers seem to identify wood as a quality material almost by default. There’s a natural warmth and sense of luxury to it that’s hard to replicate with other floor coverings. Carpet, for instance, has a more individual appeal. Get it wrong, and the potential buyer may be calculating the cost of replacing it even before the viewing is over.
The right budget
The hint of an extra cost after purchase can scare away first-time buyers. “They are very budget conscious, whether their parents are helping them out or they’re on Help-to-Buy,” says Mike McCarthy. “They’re putting as much into their deposit as they can so they don’t want to have added costs when they move in.”
Whoever the buyer is, making the right impression up front is aided by attractive floor material. Nathan Parkes specs new builds and conversions for JDW Building & Conservation, based in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. “Anyone walking into a property with wood flooring is going to like it to some extent, whereas with carpets they look at it and if they don’t like it they look into taking it up,” he says. “If you’re looking to provide something to appeal to a broad range of clients, like in a new build property, then oak flooring is a good option.”
Engineered wood flooring is popular with developers because it works well with underfloor heating, and its genuine wood finish fits in with traditional and contemporary architectural designs. “Wood flooring suits well in an old building and it also fits well in a modern build. There’s a continuity to it and you can achieve good, straight lines with it and a flat floor,” adds Nathan.
The flexibility wood flooring gives to architects and developers is also a plus for home buyers who may bring anything from antiques to ultra-modern furnishings into the property once they’ve made their purchase. A wood floor can support either style, and there is always the option of using area rugs to tie fabric, colour and texture schemes more closely together.
“It’s very popular and it adds value to a property; they sell better with timber flooring, particularly in sales to owner-occupier apartments,” says Glen Harding CEO of headoffice3, which specialises in converting offices into apartments.
In the flat market, producing both rental and owner-occupier properties, engineered wood flooring and luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) are the two main flooring options Glen considers. The latter works well for the rental market because the tiles are hardwearing and easier to replace. However, another concern is regulations that developers in this market must comply with.
“Wood provides better acoustic properties than LVT, which is an added benefit as we have to pass an acoustic performance test on completion. The underlays provide extra resilience,” Glen continues. “However, the complexities wood floors add are often a drawback – for instance they require ambient temperatures for laying, and need much more protection than LVT. Overall, I would choose wood any day if I had the choice and budgets allowed.”
The go-to choice
For other professionals in the industry, wood has become the go-to choice and there is simply very little demand for anything else. Paul Davies of the Bath architectural practice Carter Hughes Davies designs homes for a variety of developers large and small across the South West. He normally specifies wood flooring because that’s what both estate agents and developers recommend. “They all say that a timber floor will sell far better than a stone floor or a tiled floor, because it’s warm on the feet, it’s a natural looking product rather than artificial, and basically it is what people are looking to purchase with a new house,” he says.
If there is a variation in the market when it comes to flooring, it could be a regional one with more traditional options popular in rural settings. In Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, where Nathan Parkes of JDW Building Conservation operates, traditional oak is the wood of choice. However, Mike McCarthy of Equitas has found that the trend in London has shifted towards pale colours. “People want to see the ash floors and blonde floors, rather than the oak,” he says. “Oak was hugely popular for a number of years and we used lots of it. Now it’s more the distressed ash look that people are looking for.”
To ensure the quality feel throughout the buying experience, Equitas specs wood flooring wherever it can, and not just in show homes. The company uses it throughout the finished units. It’s very much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get policy, which again helps with saleability. “It always looks better with timber,” says Mike. “As much timber as possible.”
To find out more about high quality solid wood and engineered wood flooring options when specifying home builds, call Woodpecker on 02920 888 223. Browse the collection and order free samples, or find your nearest stockist here.