Don’t Be Fooled by Show Homes
When searching for a new home, especially one that’s still under construction or being sold off-plan, it’s easy to get charmed by the allure of perfectly staged show homes. These are designed to sell a dream, but as New Build Inspections’ director Catriona Bright discussed with Janet Street-Porter on Channel 4’s television series “Demolition”, these show homes can be deceptive. Let’s look at some of the common tricks used in these show homes and how you can stay vigilant.
Understanding the Show Home Illusion
Artificially Enhanced Lighting
Show homes are meticulously designed to appear as inviting and spacious as possible, and one of the key strategies employed is the use of artificially enhanced lighting. Every light in the show home, from overhead fixtures to small lamps, is typically switched on, creating an atmosphere brimming with brightness. This tactic is not just about illuminating the space; it’s carefully orchestrated to give the illusion of abundant natural light.
This approach can be particularly misleading during viewings, as it masks the true lighting conditions of the property. Natural light is a crucial aspect of any home, affecting everything from the ambiance to the perceived size of rooms. When the natural light is insufficient, and this fact is concealed by artificial lighting, it may lead to disappointment for homeowners when they move in and experience the space under normal living conditions.
As a prospective buyer, it’s important to visit the property at different times of the day to assess the natural light levels. Additionally, consider how the light changes with the seasons, as this can significantly impact the feel and functionality of your home throughout the year. Remember, while good artificial lighting can enhance a home’s appeal, nothing replaces the quality and benefits of natural sunlight.
Removed Internal Doors
One of the less obvious, yet effective tricks used in show homes is the removal of internal doors. This tactic is employed with a specific goal in mind: to create an uninterrupted visual flow and a sense of expanded space throughout the property. By eliminating these barriers, rooms seamlessly merge into one another, giving an illusion of a more open and spacious home. This strategy can be particularly impactful in smaller properties, where space is at a premium.
However, the absence of doors can significantly alter your perception of the home’s actual size and functionality. Doors play a crucial role in defining spaces, providing privacy, and managing noise levels within a home. Their removal can lead to an unrealistic expectation of the living experience in the actual property.
When viewing a show home, it’s important to mentally reimagine the space with doors in place. Consider how the inclusion of doors will affect the flow of the house, the privacy of each room, and the overall feel of the space. It’s also worth asking for the floor plans that include door placements, so you can get a more accurate sense of the layout and size of each room. Remember, while an open-plan feel is desirable, the practicality and privacy offered by doors are essential aspects of a comfortable home.
Strategic Use of Mirrors and Glass Furniture
The strategic placement of mirrors and glass furniture in show homes is a subtle yet powerful technique used to create an illusion of more space and light. Mirrors are particularly effective in this regard; they reflect both artificial and natural light, making rooms feel brighter and more open. When positioned correctly, mirrors can double the visual space of a room, giving the impression of a much larger area.
Similarly, glass furniture contributes to this illusion of spaciousness. Items like glass tables or shelves are less visually obtrusive than their solid counterparts. They allow light to pass through and don’t block sightlines, which helps in maintaining an open, airy feel in the room. This can be especially impactful in smaller spaces, where every inch counts.
However, it’s important to remember that these elements are design strategies intended to enhance the attractiveness of the show home. In a practical living environment, the use and placement of mirrors and glass furniture may not provide the same effect, especially if the actual home has different lighting conditions or a different layout.
When viewing a show home, try to look past these optical enhancements. Consider the room’s size and layout without these elements. It might be helpful to visualise the space with more typical furnishings to get a better sense of what living in the actual home would feel like. Remember, while mirrors and glass furniture can be fantastic decor elements, they should not be the sole factors influencing your perception of the space.
Altered Furniture Proportions
A common yet often overlooked tactic in staging show homes is the use of furniture with altered proportions. In this strategy, furniture pieces are carefully selected to be smaller in scale or shallower in depth than standard sizes. This approach plays a crucial role in creating a deceptive sense of spaciousness within the home.
For instance, a sofa might be narrower than a typical one, or a dining table might be more compact. These subtle reductions in size can make the rooms appear larger and more accommodating than they actually are. This illusion is further enhanced when combined with other staging techniques like strategic lighting and the removal of internal doors.
However, it’s important for potential buyers to recognise this trick. The furniture you own or plan to purchase may not fit the space as effortlessly as the show home’s carefully chosen pieces. This could lead to practical challenges when moving in, as your own furnishings might occupy more space or disrupt the flow of the rooms.
When viewing a show home, it’s helpful to take measurements of the furniture and compare them to your own or standard sizes. Envisioning how your own belongings would fit into the space can provide a more realistic idea of the home’s true size and suitability for your needs. It’s also beneficial to ask for floor plans and room dimensions to plan accordingly. Remember, while well-staged furniture can enhance the appeal of a show home, it’s the compatibility with your own lifestyle and possessions that truly makes a house a home.
Minimal Bedroom Furnishings
In show homes, bedrooms are often presented with minimal furnishings, typically just a bed and a bedside table. This approach is intentionally adopted to maximise the perceived space within the room. By omitting larger, more common pieces of bedroom furniture such as wardrobes, chests of drawers, or dressing tables, the room appears more spacious and less cluttered.
This minimalistic staging is designed to appeal to potential buyers by presenting a simplified and uncluttered environment, which can be more visually appealing. However, it doesn’t realistically represent how the space will be used on a day-to-day basis. In practical terms, most homeowners require additional furniture for storage and functionality, which, when added to the room, will occupy significant space and potentially alter the spacious feel presented in the show home.
When viewing such minimally furnished bedrooms, it’s crucial to critically assess the space. Consider the size and number of furniture pieces you intend to bring into the room. Will there be enough space for a full-sized wardrobe, additional drawers, or perhaps a study desk? How will the inclusion of these essential items impact the room’s overall feel and usability?
It may be helpful to take measurements of the bedroom during your viewing and compare them with the dimensions of your existing furniture. This exercise can provide a more realistic understanding of how the space will accommodate your needs. Remember, while minimal furnishings can make a room look larger and more inviting, the true test of a bedroom’s suitability lies in how well it can adapt to your personal lifestyle and storage needs.
Upgraded Fittings and Specifications
Show homes are often outfitted with high-quality fittings and finishes that exceed the standard specifications of the actual homes being sold. These upgraded features can range from luxurious kitchen appliances and top-tier bathroom fixtures to premium flooring and sophisticated lighting systems. The intention behind this is to create an aspirational space that captivates potential buyers, showcasing the property in its most flattering light.
However, this can set unrealistic expectations for buyers. The disparity between the deluxe fittings in the show home and the more basic fixtures in the standard property can be significant. For instance, you might find a show home kitchen equipped with a high-end range cooker, designer taps, and marble countertops, while the standard version comes with more basic appliances and standard work surfaces.
It’s crucial for buyers to understand exactly what is included in the base price of the home they are considering. They should ask detailed questions about the specifications of the fittings and finishes in the standard model and request a clear list of what is standard versus what is an upgrade. This information is vital to avoid surprises and additional costs post-purchase.
When touring a show home, try to differentiate between what is part of the standard offering and what is an upgrade. Inquire about the costs associated with any additional features that catch your eye and consider how essential these are to your living requirements and budget. Remember, while upgraded fittings can enhance the aesthetic appeal of a show home, it’s the standard specifications that will form the foundation of your actual living space.
Professionally Landscaped Gardens
The gardens of show homes are typically a showcase of professional landscaping at its best. Lush lawns, perfectly pruned shrubs, blooming flower beds, and sometimes even elegant water features or artful patio designs are all elements used to create an idyllic outdoor setting. These gardens are designed to enhance the overall appeal of the show home, offering potential buyers a glimpse of an idealised lifestyle.
However, this level of landscaping is often not what is included in the standard property purchase. The actual gardens of the homes being sold may be much simpler, possibly just basic turf or even unfinished, requiring additional investment of time and money to reach the standard of the show home’s garden.
This disparity can be particularly significant for buyers who value outdoor space and may not have the resources or desire to undertake extensive landscaping projects. When viewing a show home, it’s important to clarify what level of garden landscaping is included in the standard package. Ask for details about the state of the garden in the home you are considering and whether any landscaping shown in the show home comes at an additional cost.
If you are keen on having a well-landscaped garden, consider the additional investment required to achieve this. You might need to budget for professional landscaping services or plan to invest your own time and effort to create the garden you desire. Remember, while a beautifully landscaped garden can greatly enhance a property’s appeal, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what is included in your purchase and what may require additional investment.
In the staging of show homes, one subtle yet impactful trick used is the manipulation of heating. These homes often have their heating systems turned up higher than what might be typical in an everyday living situation. This tactic is more than just about creating a warm and cozy atmosphere; it serves a specific purpose in the psychology of home viewing.
A warmer temperature in the show home can create a subconsciously welcoming and comforting environment, making the space feel more inviting and appealing. However, the underlying strategy can also be to subtly encourage potential buyers to move through the home more quickly. Warmer temperatures can make extended stays in each room less comfortable, leading viewers to spend less time scrutinising details and potentially overlooking aspects of the property they might otherwise have noticed.
For potential buyers, it’s important to be aware of this tactic. Don’t let the warmth of the show home cloud your judgment or rush your viewing. Take your time to thoroughly inspect each room and consider how the space feels. If possible, visit the property at different times or on different days to experience it in varying conditions.
Additionally, inquire about the home’s insulation and energy efficiency. A well-insulated home retains heat more effectively, which is a crucial aspect to consider for comfort and energy bills. Remember, while a warm show home can create an appealing first impression, the practicalities of heating and insulation are what will contribute to your long-term comfort and satisfaction in the home.
Tips for Prospective Buyers
See Beyond the Show Home
When exploring options for a new home, it’s vital to look beyond the allure of the show home. These properties are expertly staged to showcase the potential of a home, but they often do not represent the exact unit you will be purchasing. The show home is designed to be a model of perfection, with every detail meticulously planned to appeal to potential buyers. However, the reality of the actual home you buy may differ in terms of layout, finishes, and overall feel.
To avoid any misconceptions, it’s advisable to request a tour of the specific style of property you are interested in, especially if it’s available on the site. This allows you to see first-hand what your potential new home would actually look like, minus the staging and upgraded features of the show home. It provides an opportunity to assess the actual size of the rooms, the quality of finishes included in the standard specification, and the natural light in the space.
Additionally, seeing the actual property can give you a better sense of the neighbourhood and its ambiance. You can assess factors like noise levels, privacy, views from the windows, and the orientation of the home in relation to natural light and surrounding structures.
Remember, while show homes are an excellent tool for visualising a property’s potential, your purchase decision should be based on a realistic assessment of the actual home and how it aligns with your needs and expectations. This approach will help ensure that you are fully satisfied with your new home once you move in.
When considering the purchase of a new home, particularly one that you’ve seen as a show home, it’s crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the exact specifications of the property you will be receiving. Show homes are often enhanced with upgrades and features that may not be included in the standard package of the home you’re buying. These enhancements can range from high-end appliances and luxury finishes to custom paint jobs and premium flooring.
To avoid any misunderstandings or disappointments, take proactive steps to clarify what is included in the standard specifications of your chosen property. Request a detailed list from the developer or sales agent that outlines what fixtures, fittings, and finishes come as standard. This list should cover all aspects of the property, including the kitchen appliances, bathroom fixtures, types of windows and doors, flooring materials, and any built-in storage solutions.
It’s also wise to ask about any potential upgrades and their associated costs. Understanding the difference in cost between the standard specifications and the upgrades shown in the show home can help you make informed decisions about what you can afford and what is essential for your lifestyle.
In some cases, developers may offer various tiers or packages for finishes and fittings, allowing buyers to customise their home to a certain degree. If this is an option, consider which aspects are most important to you and what you’re willing to invest in.
Remember, verifying the specifications of your chosen property is a crucial step in ensuring that your new home meets your expectations and needs. By understanding exactly what is included in the price, you can budget accordingly and avoid any unexpected costs or disappointments after moving in.
Plan for Your Furnishings
When considering a new build or an off-plan property, an essential aspect of your planning should involve how your existing furnishings will fit into the new space. This step is vital because show homes are often staged with specially selected furniture that may not accurately represent the space available for your own furnishings.
To ensure a smooth transition, start by obtaining detailed floor plans of the property, including dimensions of each room. Use these plans to measure and map out where your current furniture can be placed. Consider the dimensions of larger items like sofas, beds, and dining tables, and think about how they will fit in the new space. Be particularly attentive to the layout and size of living and sleeping areas, as these are spaces where you’ll likely spend most of your time.
Also, take note of the ceiling heights, especially in new build properties. Ceiling heights can sometimes be lower than in older buildings, which might affect how certain tall pieces, like bookshelves or wardrobes, fit into the rooms. Additionally, consider the placement of windows, doors, and radiators, as these can impact where furniture can be placed.
If you plan to purchase new furniture, use the floor plans to ensure that any new pieces you are considering will fit comfortably in the space. Remember to leave enough room for walking and to consider the flow of movement between rooms.
Planning for your furnishings is more than just a logistical exercise; it’s about ensuring that your new home will be a comfortable, functional, and inviting space that suits your lifestyle and needs. Taking the time to carefully plan the layout of your furniture can help you envision living in the new space and ensure a smooth transition to your new home.
The Insightful Lessons from “Demolition”
The Channel 4 series “Demolition” did more than just showcase the architectural eyesores scattered across Britain; it also shone a spotlight on less visible yet equally significant issues in the housing market, such as the deceptive nature of show homes. Catriona Bright, featured in the series, provided valuable insights into this practice, highlighting a common disappointment among new homeowners: the stark contrast between the glamorous show homes and the actual properties they receive. These differences can be quite profound, encompassing aspects like build quality, interior specifications, and even the overall size and layout of the home.
This revelation serves as a crucial reminder for those on the hunt for their dream home. The allure of a show home, while enticing, may not accurately represent the reality of what you are purchasing. It’s essential to maintain a critical eye and delve deeper into the details of your potential new home. Ask questions, request specific information about what is included in the standard build, and if possible, inspect homes that are not show models to get a more realistic view.
Bright’s insights emphasise the importance of being well-informed and vigilant during the home-buying process. By understanding these common marketing tactics, you can make a decision that is based on reality rather than illusion. This approach will not only help in choosing a home that genuinely meets your expectations but also in preventing any disappointments that might arise after moving in. In essence, being aware of these tricks ensures that the dream home you choose is indeed the dream home you live in.
The Benefits of a Snagging Inspection
Concluding your journey to a new home with a snagging inspection is a crucial step that should not be overlooked. A snagging inspection, conducted by professionals like those at New Build Inspections, is designed to identify any issues or defects in a new property before you move in. This comprehensive check can uncover a range of problems, from minor cosmetic blemishes to more significant concerns, ensuring that everything is up to the expected standards.
By having this inspection done, you safeguard your investment and ensure that your new home is not just visually appealing, as showcased in the show home, but also sound and free from hidden flaws. Moreover, identifying these issues early on means they can often be rectified by the developer before you settle in, saving you time, stress, and potential future costs.
In essence, a snagging inspection provides peace of mind, confirming that your new home is built to last and ready to become the dream home you envisioned.