HOME TOUR: Two Sisters Experience The Pros And Cons Of Buying Their Modern Flat Off-Plan / by Tash South

Sisters Fliss and Kim were grappling with the London Property market, trying to find their next purchase. They had been unsuccessfully searching in Hackney for a three bedroom flat with outside space for some time, but all the market had to offer at the time was tiny, badly laid-out flats.

In January 2016, they spotted the beautiful images of a newly renovated project listed with a local estate agent. But, when they called to enquire about a viewing, they were told the images they had seen were CGI and the flat was practically still a building site! They were told that flat was part of a development and was available to purchase off-plan.

The stylish frontage with black-painted windows hint at the modern interior.

Buying a house or flat off-plan means buying it before it's been completely built or renovated.

Fliss and Kim decided to view the property mid-renovation to make a decision. Although the place was a mess - they loved the proposals. Not being in a strong position to make an offer immediately, they waited a little while to arrange finance and after having to fight off some competition a couple of months later, they had their offer accepted.

Talking about their experience, they told me that it wasn't all smooth sailing though - some miscommunication meant that a wall in a bedroom had to be re-built, and they had to negotiate constantly to fight for the high end tiling and lighting finishes promised by the developer – who proposed to change some finishes mid-project. But finally, eight months after first seeing the property, the sale went through, and they moved into their new home in October 2016.

The impressive picture window at the rear with direct access to the garden.


The Pros and Cons of buying off-plan

The Pros

  • Your new home could be worth more than what you paid for it by the time it's completed and you move in
  • You could get a discount of up to 5% on off-plan new-builds - and secure a great plot
  • Design involvement – you may be able to personalise your new home with fixtures and fittings and have the opportunity to make adjustments to the plans.
  • You'll get to experience the entire process come together from scratch without having to be hands-on
  • A degree of bespoke elements

The Cons

  • You'll have to pay a deposit upfront to secure the property
  • Not seeing upfront what it is you are buying
  • Most lenders don't offer mortgages designed specifically for off-plan properties, so you'll have to do your research and find a suitable lender
  • Most mortgage agreements are valid for six months, so if your purchase isn't wrapped up in that time frame, you may have to re-apply for your mortgage
  • If the property price changes dramatically during the works or build, then the size of the mortgage could change, and this could put your deposit at risk
  • If you can't complete the developer could take legal action, so check any contracts or agreements carefully
  • Negotiating on final details and finishes and maintaining what was promised in the original plans


The Space

Statement lighting and great storage in the living and dining areas.

On entering, it has all the modern features that I love, lots of light, clean lines, wood floors and plenty of sleek storage, and a huge picture window adds instant impact. The flat is laid out over the ground and first floors, with the living space on the upper floor and the three bedrooms and bathrooms downstairs, with access to the garden from both levels. A huge bonus is the garden room with WC, which was included in the developer's plans.

Fliss and Kim work in film and advertising and clearly, and both have a creative eye, they've worked together to furnish and style the flat themselves – they are still searching for a few pieces, but overall it would make any stylist proud.

The gorgeous wooden herringbone flooring throughout adds to the feeling of spaciousness.

The huge picture window beautifully frames the mature tree beyond and adds instant visual impact.

The white gloss kitchen is from Magnet and the sisters chose these Hay barstools.

Gold, brass and copper accents work so well alongside wood in a modern interior.

The drinks trolley is vintage and was given to Kim and Fliss by their grandmother.

The long space is carefully planned and flows well.

The herringbone pattern is reflected in the white tiling.

The Details

Storage has been carefully planned - most of the shelves have been hidden by handle-less doors, but some have been left exposed for display items.

Fliss and Kim have a great selection of objects displayed.

Some of the open shelves have been used as a bar area.

The sisters have a great collection of prints and photos which they have had professionally framed and hung.

A mirrorball in the living area adds a sense of fun and quirk.

This print is '1970's pool gossip' by photographer Slim Aarons, it has been beautifully framed with a sheet of glass and hidden fixings.

The brushed chrome tap and marble countertops were chosen by the developer.

Cocktail equipment in copper at the ready.

Stylish stairs in black and wood lead down to the three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Some more beautifully framed prints hang above the bed.

Despite a few issues, Fliss and Kim are now happy and settled in their new home. They persevered, showing that if you can hold your nerve and work with a developer, you can end up with a modern and stylish home with a high-end finish.


Want to steal their style?

Fliss and Kim's flat is a great example of how a modern base can be layered with Scandi style and a hint of glam. I've put together the moodboard below with some of the key pieces to achieve their style.



Photo credits:
1. Agent's Photo.
All others by tashsouth.com