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Q&A with Taggart Homes - 'inexperienced builders should face tighter controls'

With the UK enduring its third national lockdown, Property Investor Today speaks with Michael Taggart, chief executive officer of luxury homebuilder Taggart Homes, on the creation of the brand and the current state on the housing market.

When did you first decide you wanted to launch Taggart Homes in the UK and what was the main driving factor? 

Back in 2015, I decided that I wanted to launch Taggart Homes in the UK - the main reason being the large demand for housing and the fact that the market size allows for continuity and the opportunity to build a scalable business.


What do you feel makes a ‘perfect’ home and why? 

My belief is that a perfect home has to begin in the mindset of the builder or developer, and it is not simply a single component, it is many, with each being of significant importance. 

We always put ourselves in the mind of the customer and plan and think about the product that we would like to live in. It needs to start with what the customer is going to receive, and in every decision, there will be a duty of care to the end buyer.

Practicality, aesthetics and energy efficiency are key aspects of a perfect home, with durability and value for money of materials and products used being equally important, to ensure several lifetimes of wear.

Taggart Homes takes time and care to research and locate products at the source of the manufacturing stage, and buys in bulk to ensure customers get the best value.

What would you say are your three biggest learnings since starting Taggart Homes back in 1989?

Taggart Homes [which started out in Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland and now covers England and the Republic of Ireland, too] has learned many things and it would be hard to pick the three biggest, however I would say that transparency is an important trait and when carried and expected, it can combat and shield off many negatives from our business.

The ability to understand the other party’s perspective, and allowing flexibility into any situation, is also of great importance. Quality in every aspect of our work is also vital and having the ability to know when quality is not up to standard in every sense is key.

It is paramount to us that every aspect of our business - from the product, to customer experience and employment progresses with quality and honesty.

What do Taggart Homes properties and developments have that other home builders don’t provide?

I cannot and will not judge anyone else's work, however, Taggart Homes start from the heart and as a company we genuinely want to do a great job and build a home for our customers. We have a very open attitude and a duty of care to our customers is everything to us.

It’s really important that our customers receive a quality property that is attractive on the outside and inside. Our approach to landscaping ensures that homebuyers do not have to put up walls or fences, and we use hedging to ensure maturity and additional privacy to all homes. This improves properties over time, increasing the value for the homeowner.

We want buyers to enjoy and make memories in their properties, as they may be spending more than 25 years paying off a mortgage - so, of course, we feel responsible for ensuring that they are happy for the years to come.

In terms of new-builds, what are your views on the UK housing market at present and how do you feel it is changing or going to change in the future?

I think that tighter controls should be introduced to stop inexperienced builders entering the market or, at a minimum, there should be specific criteria that all builders need to meet.

I also believe that controls should be introduced to assist in stopping booms and busts in the market, creating more long-term stability. My belief is that homes will eventually be completely prebuilt in a factory and assembled on site.

If you could give any advice to first-time homebuyers, what would that be?

I would suggest that first-time homebuyers research their builder thoroughly and find out exactly what they are buying by taking professional advice. I would strongly recommend that they pay someone professionally to snag their property before completing.

I would also advise them that a cheaper home may not be good value depending on the builder, and to make sure their property is in a good saleable area before buying.

Why did you choose Carterton as your first location in the UK to build homes and Annesley as the second location? 

The Carterton site was an easy choice as it had full planning and is well-located in Oxfordshire in easy commuting distance to London. It's a highly desirable area in a mature location.

Annesley is a nice site of 45 units with easy access to main roads and motorways, and there was already pent-up demand in the area for housing of this sort. Taggart Homes has experience working in multiple locations and having a spread of developments is part of our strategy.

Where can we expect to see Taggart Homes properties next in the UK?

Our focus is on the Midlands South and at present, we are committed to multiple developments in Oxfordshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. We are currently working on 14 different developments in the UK with many more to come.

Our plan is to grow our business, by up to 1,000 homes per year through private development, and design and build for housing associations.

Has the Covid-19 pandemic had any major implications on your work, or do you expect it to in the coming months?

Covid-19 has caused us a lot of extra cost in terms of staff being off work and new measures needing to be taken to protect staff and customers.

Aside from that, it heavily impacted the market and resulted in the company carrying a lot of overhead cost with no return. That said, the market has picked up and has been strong with great results since July 2020. The trend currently appears to be that people are keen to upgrade to better homes as they are spending much more time in them with remote working, which is the new normal for many companies.

If you could sum up the Taggart Homes philosophy in one sentence, what would it be?

A genuine, decent and ambitious company that really cares about its stakeholders, staff and customers.


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