Customer care and a readiness to respond to the Internet revolution gave the finalists their edge in this category, which was sponsored by Wavin Plastics.
  • winner

    Laing Homes
    Laing Homes was the clear winner, impressing with its technical and environmental innovations. The company is leading the field in building homes wired for the future, exemplified by the Internet Home in Watford and a prototype Innovation House in Horley, Surrey. Cutting out waste, recycling and conserving wildlife assumes a high priority at Laing. Customer peace of mind is ensured by a two-year warranty and a 24-hour helpline. The 1323 homes sold last year generated turnover of £273m, an increase of 37%.

  • second

    McCarthy & Stone
    McCarthy & Stone is refusing to rest on its laurels as one of the UK's most successful housebuilders. In the past year, it has built the first of its Assisted Living developments for frail elderly customers, featuring a restaurant and 24-hour service. In a joint venture with Bournemouth University, homeowners in five developments have had tutorials on the Internet. Typical of the company's skills at redeveloping brownfield sites is the conversion of the Royal Court Hotel in Teignmouth to 72 apartments. A run of excellent results continued last year, when turnover rose 15.6% to £123.4m, and operating profit was up 19.2% to £39.7m.

  • third

    St George
    St George has carved out a niche for itself as a visionary developer of urban sites: so sure is its touch that homes are selling "off plan" two years ahead of the construction programme. On site, St George employs a high percentage of local labour, has achieved a 30% reduction in waste and has implemented a major recycling initiative. In Spitalfields, near the City of London, it has provided 200 homes and funded community benefits including a crèche and Skills Match Centre. Taking its community responsibilities seriously has not detracted from financial performance: sales grew 5% last year to £124m and operating profit jumped 29% to £31m.

    On customer satisfaction, innovation and business development they come out way ahead of anyone else

    Amazingly consistent, continuously perform well and score very high ratings from their customers

    High points for the way in which they address urban issues. The outstanding brownfield developer