PROPERTY brochures are often packed with glossy computer generated images depicting pavement café culture at its peak on a summery afternoon in June. But the promotional material for Loud and Western on the Broughton Road in Fulham is stark and bare.
The first four houses went on the market yesterday in what’s known in the industry as “raw condition.” This means that, while the outside has been completely refurbished, the inside is completely free of walls, fixtures and furnishings to allow buyers to have complete flexibility to create their perfect home – subject to building regulations, of course.
Verve Properties has done all the hard work converting the Edwardian factory into a space fit to live in. The developer specialises in transforming brownfield sites and they’re well known for working with unusual buildings with an industrial heritage.
“In the last recession, we built a lot of Victorian schools and commercial spaces which can very easily be envisaged as Warholian industrial warehouse conversions,” says Ashley Nicholson, director of Verve Properties. “I got fed up of seeing housebuilders fill them with these identical rabbit hutch apartments, so we decided to buy a few up and let people do what they want with them. We’re leaving some meat on the bones, while other developers are squeezing the pips out.”
Prospective buyers will certainly have a lot of space to play with as the houses range from 2,466sqft to 7,000sqft with ceiling heights of over 3 metres. The vastness of the new homes is due to their past life as Loud and Western Sunlight Laundry which serviced major hotels in the West End. Originally built in 1910, additions were added a decade later and it even helped the Second World War effort, doubling up as a sand-bagging centre during the Blitz.
“It seemed the only spaces in London to play with were terraced houses,” says Nicholson. “If you buy one of those or a flat, there are limited options as to what you can do and I think there are people who see the potential of these large commercial spaces. Recently, we’ve had a plethora of TV programmes like Grand Designs and the Restoration Man and now everyone wants to restore a water mill in Cumbria.”
Nicholson says he finds great pleasure in returning to the houses and “the variety is extraordinary. We had a lady in Southwark in one of our raw developments go totally Louis XV on it – it was golden and looked like Versailles. We’ve had a chef set up a cookery school on the ground floor, another had an art gallery, one buyer collected Ferraris that he lined up in the hallway and hung from the ceiling.”
As a consequence, many of the raw developments turn into unique homes that sell on well as statement pieces, allowing buyers to skip a couple of stages and upgrade far more quickly than they would have done had they bought a “finished” house.
The first four homes at Loud and Western are on sale from £2mto £4.5m. Phase two will comprise five mews houses and they will also be available to buy in raw condition from late autumn.
For more, call Savills Fulham on 020 7731 9400 or visit savills.co.uk