resource hub | Easy Living Developments keeps it in-house - case study

Easy Living Developments keeps it in-house - case study

Easy Living Developments, Forth Park and The Avenues developments

Forth Park, Kirkcaldy

 

Occupying the site of a former maternity hospital, Forth Park consists of contemporary villas and bungalows alongside luxury apartments in a redeveloped Grade B listed former mansion house and mews buildings.

All 55 homes feature high levels of insulation together with air-source heat pumps.

Premier Guarantee Site Quality Recognition Award winner August 2021

 

The Avenues, Lochgelly

 

168 two, three, four and five-bedroom new timber-frame homes including range of two, three and four-bedroom bungalows.

Premier Guarantee Site Quality Recognition Award winner July 2021 and January 2022

 

Questions put to Keith Davidson, Chief Executive Officer, Easy Living Developments

 

What makes Easy Living Developments different?

 

Easy Living Developments (ELD) is unusual in the development world in that it enjoys full in-house capability of providing its own high-quality design and build service, from feasibility to hand over of both new build and refurbished properties.

 

Every element of the process, from initial design to the handover and beyond, is undertaken with care and consideration for the new homeowner. We pride ourselves on a personal approach, viewing each buyer as an individual who has chosen ELD to help bring their property aspirations to fruition. The exterior of an Easy Living property is easily identifiable by style; however, each property is personalised by the client making every new house an individual home.

 

Your company is a fairly young SME. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and what are you most proud of achieving so far?

 

It’s fair to say there have been challenges along the way. We’ve had to handle historic underground mine workings necessitating both extensive grouting and the introduction of significant additional ground gas protection measures to all properties within an affected area.

 

The unexpected discovery of further considerable amounts of unrecorded asbestos within buildings being demolished also caused significant delays and a very unwelcome overspend during the early phase of our ongoing Forth Park Development.

 

Yet on a positive note, dealing with these challenges and working with the various authorities and sub-contractors to successfully resolve them has provided ELD with a wealth of knowledge, experience and useful industry contacts to tackle any future problems with confidence. In reality it may also present future development opportunities for sites that other less experienced developers may shy away from.

 

We have also grown our in-house sales team. They tell us that there is nothing more satisfying than welcoming a family, couple, or individual to their new home. Having had the opportunity to take people from point of reservation to handover, making choices and assisting through the process certainly makes for great job satisfaction for the sales team.

 

You’ve won three Premier Guarantee awards for your schemes, what does it mean to win? How do you keep up the levels of quality and consistency?

 

ELD’s entire team and our sub-contractors are extremely proud of our finished product and find it very gratifying when the developments are recognised for quality, presentation, and build.  The products, in our opinion, speak for themselves and we are all very happy to be part of the team who brings this together. Having a core of reliable sub-contractors who work across our sites ensures continuity and consistency in quality for all concerned.  The winning of awards for completed developments gives our potential clients the confidence to invest in the quality properties designed and built by our team of experienced professionals.

 

What highlights/challenges have you faced? How do these compare between new-build and refurbishment schemes?

 

Building properties through the pandemic has certainly presented unprecedented challenges for all in the construction industry.  This coupled with transforming at-risk listed buildings into valuable community assets, while still trying to maintain a level of profit, has presented a unique set of circumstances for ELD. Overcoming these issues has highlighted how much easier and less stressful the construction process of new-build sites actually is!

 

What are some of the innovations/approaches that Easy Living employs in terms of sustainability? In what ways does manufacturing timber frame kits locally support your business?

 

ELD has helped establish and invested in a new timber framed company which provides a quality timber framed product along with the hardwood finishings for all our new build properties. The combination of ELD’s technical team providing the full package of drawings to the factory also allows for any customer changes, extensions etc to be facilitated with the minimum of fuss, much to the delight of many clients.  The close working relationship between the factory and site also ensures the minimum of waste and a ‘just-in-time’ delivery system which reduces the potential time that a new kit is exposed to the weather.

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When technical questions arise, it’s very pleasing to know that our team feel confident enough to ask the Premier Guarantee inspectors for advice and guidance to help resolve any technical or other questions that may arise during both the design and build process.   

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Keith Davidson, Chief Executive Officer, Easy Living Developments

How have you found the experience of working with Premier Guarantee?

 

Both ELD and Premier Guarantee (PG) have worked well as a team to provide a consistently high-quality residential product. Importantly, when technical questions arise, it’s very pleasing to know that our team feel confident enough to ask the PG inspectors for advice and guidance to help resolve any technical or other questions that may arise during both the design and build process.   

 

How has Premier Guarantee supported you as a relatively new but growing business?

 

We have both worked well as a team, combining our individual strengths to provide desirable properties, with PG Inspectors playing a full part in the quality control process and helping ELD to achieve and maintain the consistent high-quality standards our clients fully appreciate.

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ELD is a relatively young yet forward-thinking company and from a structural warranty provider’s perspective, it’s been a privilege to work with them as they grow. Bringing timber-frame closer by helping to establish and investing in a new local timber framed company, means they can demonstrate consistent and transparent quality control across the supply chain and this is reflected in the standard of homes they build. It’s therefore no surprise they have won a number of Premier Guarantee Site Quality Recognition Awards. They’re a credit to the industry and we’re looking forward to working with them on their future projects.

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Dan Hodgson, Premier Guarantee Business Account Manager (Scotland and NE England Region)

What are some emerging themes in house building and how are Easy Living readying themselves for the future?

 

Having new technology built in as part of a new home, be this solar panels or air source heat pumps, is a huge bonus for clients. Buyers are generally happy to be reducing their carbon footprint regardless of age or generation, although for many clients the monetary savings are far more important.

 

ELD are currently undertaking the largest regional development which has entirely done away with the use of gas boilers in favour of air sourced heat pumps.  Although some teething problems have been experienced, we are working through these with the aim of becoming a ‘Green Builder of Quality Homes’.

 

Having said that, we are experiencing some severe limitations in the National Grid’s ability to supply the increase electrical supply to support the installation of modern ‘green’ heating methods and indeed even car charging points.

 

What’s on the horizon for Easy Living?

 

To grow and flourish in what we term as the “Total Construction Challenge”; sourcing/acquiring the land through the planning process to constructing a quality product that our clients and ourselves can be justifiable very proud of.  To this end we are continuing to organically expand our business on all fronts and across all professions with some exciting new sites coming on stream this year.

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As most of ELD’s trades are employed by the company, or are subcontractors that have worked with them for some time, their level of site control is excellent. All the trades know what’s expected from them and this makes a massive difference when trades are following on from each other. Most firms could learn from ELD’s philosophy and their excellent finish to the end product.

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David Favell, Risk Management Surveyor, Scotland and NE England team

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