Energy, style, efficiency, service, stock, price – as Steve Menary discovers, installing the right kitchen requires mastering many key factors and knowing what the customer wants
Buyers of an existing home have the option to rip out a kitchen and put a new one in, but on a new build property getting the kitchen right first time is essential.
With materials prices rising, housebuilders' margins are getting squeezed but kitchens are not just about price.
Neil Kirwan, housebuilder manager for Cosentino East London, which supplies housebuilders including Barratt, Berkeley and Redrow, explains: “The market is not only price driven, it is the whole package; the service, the stock holding, the after sales support. A quality product and an unrivalled service are the most important factors.”Upgrades
Offering a range of products means companies can give buyers the option for upgrades throughout the kitchen specification process.(Pictured) Owain Harrison at Hoover Candy Baumatic says: “With the increasing adoption of smart homes and awareness of energy usage we see this trend (for sustainability) set to continue”
Owain Harrison, UK head of sales and marketing at Hoover Candy Baumatic (Built-in), says: “With both the Hoover and Candy brands, we are often considered to specify appliances beyond the standard oven, hob and hood combination; also supplying laundry, cooling and dishwashing products, and with some of our partners we offer extras such as combination microwave ovens and wine storage.
Price and specification varies by builder and by project. Some construction companies may be working on housing association properties, where although we are seeing constantly improving specifications, budgets are obviously limited. While premium housebuilders may specify top of the range appliances, such as self-cleaning pyrolytic ovens, induction hobs and designer extraction.”(Pictured) PJH supplies kitchens to Barratt, Bovis and Keepmoat including induction hobs, cooker hoods and ovens
PJH supplies kitchens to Barratt, Bovis and Keepmoat. Aaron Willumsen, national contracts sales manager, says: “We help our clients specify attractive cooking packs such as induction hobs, cooker hoods and ovens, whilst keeping integrated product behind doors.” Electrolux has a three-brand strategy and Mark Armstrong, national contracts manager in the UK and Ireland, says: “This allows us to cover all bases with a Good, Better and Best offering using the Zanussi, Electrolux and AEG brands.(Pictured) Electrolux has a three-brand strategy allowing it to cover all bases using the Zanussi, Electrolux and AEG brands, such as this ProSource tap
“The secret is not to over complicate the upgrade process and to remember that the main objective for the builder is to sell the house: make sure the brand and the standard spec are right from the outset.
“Builders who want to offer upgrades should be looking to provide home buyers the opportunity to upgrade to models that offer experiences such as cooking with steam or using a total self clean pyro oven; this can be complemented by offering induction hobs.
“It is important to make sure that sales staff are trained on the features and benefits of the products so that home owners get the best out of their upgrades.”
Poorly trained staff can result in new home owners not using products properly and causing damage.
“Incorrect dosage when washing laundry can result in either increased water and energy usage, or unclean clothes with remaining stains,” says Ros Collins, freestanding category manager for laundry at BSH. Collins adds: “Consumers either use too much or too little detergent when doing their laundry. Using too much detergent results in longer wash cycles and increased water usage, whereas too little detergent will result in some stains not being completely removed. Both cases lead to poor washing results and fabric care.”
BSH has developed the i-DOS range, which automatically calculates just how much detergent and water is required for each wash, which can save up to 11 litres of detergent and 7,000 litres of water each a year.
Home buyers and housebuilders are increasingly interested in energy saving products, as meeting new sustainability rating systems such as Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) or the Water Efficiency Label (WELL) becomes important.(Pictured) GROHE says its Red Kettle hot water tap encourages responsible management of energy and water
GROHE UK product manager Michael Gray explains: “Consumers are now looking for appliances and gadgets that help conserve precious resources, use less energy, and are kind to the pocket.
“We are being asked more and more for water saving products. The reason is either to conform to a rating system like LEED or the WELL efficiency label or because the designer, for instance, is now more aware of sustainable products.
“In the kitchen, a kettle hot water tap encourages responsible management of energy and water. The hot water tap provides hot water on demand straight from the tap, therefore saving energy by eliminating the need to boil water in a kettle, or wait for water to boil in a pan [and] consumers only use the amount of water required, therefore avoiding water wastage.”
Murat Sapci, head of built-in at Beko, says: “[Housebuilders] have a responsibility to meet sustainability guidelines, but also because they help them make overall water and energy savings enabling them to build better homes. By installing a dishwasher that uses just six litres of water, a housebuilder could choose to specify a shower with greater volume or a more luxurious bath.”
Owain Harrison at Hoover Candy Baumatic agrees: “With the increasing adoption of smart homes and better awareness of energy usage we see this trend only set to continue. These innovations are attractive to housebuilders as they help position them as leaders in the market, and the benefits are so visible they can help pull the customer over the line.”
While “location, location, location” is an oft-quoted mantra, internally the kitchen is vital to clinching the sale of a new build home.
“Kitchens are very important in the sales process; it is vital that housebuilders use this opportunity to stand out from the crowd,” says Symphony’s head of marketing Robert Newton.
“Offering the latest trends, colours and styles is undoubtedly important, however the allure of a credible brand name that resonates with your target audience can really make your development stand out. We have achieved this with the Laura Ashley Kitchen Collection, which is proving very popular with developers. The choice of the brand is important and Laura Ashley has offered a brand that is instantly recognisable and offers house buyers confidence that they are buying a high quality British-made kitchen, which offers that all-important ‘wow’ factor.“
Jonathan Stanley, vice president of marketing at Caesarstone UK, says that specification of materials and furniture is also important to create the right impact with buyers.(Pictured) Caesarstone UK says that the housebuilder market wants high-end furniture made with high-performance materials that enhance the overall look of the kitchen
Stanley says: “The housebuilder market wants high- end furniture made with high-performance materials that enhance the overall look and execution of the kitchen. For housebuilders, it is also important to source materials of exceptional quality that can be handled and worked easily on site; these are far less likely to cause any issues at a later date. Quartz is a shrewd choice for new homes as it has many applications and is guaranteed to last the test of time.”
An impressive looking work surface on an island is a focal point in kitchen specification. Egger category manager Elliott Fairlie says: “Increasingly, the choice of worktop is the starting point of a kitchen scheme. There is currently an increased emphasis on woodgrains in reaction to the amount of solid colour being used as frontals, with woodgrains now becoming the accent.”
Work surfaces are also an area where housebuilders are willing to pay a little more according to Pete Sherry, kitchen category manager at Faith Furniture Company, who says: “To maximise their profit the focus tends to be very much on price, but a number of housebuilders are prepared to pay a little more for the extra finishing touches such as solid surface worktops.”
With more and more new homes to be built in coming years, an impressive kitchen can be the unique selling point for housebuilders looking to distinguish themselves in a crowded market.