The shortlisted firms in the British Gypsum-sponsored category prioritised design and were smart in their use of innovative marketing.
  • winner

    Copthorn Homes
    Copthorn Homes, part of Countryside Group, emerged as the winner, thanks to all-round excellence in design, innovation, marketing and concern for the environment. By eradicating standard house types and employing independent architects, Copthorn has pursued design flair. This shows in its space-maximising conservatories in the roof-space and studios above garages, as at Mulberry Heights at Church Langley in Essex. On site, the company prioritises services installation as early in the project as possible to improve the working environment and health and safety standards, and has a policy of using only recyclable or sustainable materials. The company built just fewer than 500 homes last year, generating a 47% increase in turnover to £69.1m and a 36% rise in operating profit to £11.5m.

  • second

    Furlong Homes
    London brownfield specialist Furlong Homes places a strong emphasis on high-quality design. Eye-catching features such as terracotta cladding and hardwood flooring are proving popular with an increasingly upmarket customer base: approximately 90% of homes are sold off-plan, and Furlong show homes are almost unknown. The Monza building in Wapping, with concept design by Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners, is an example of its architectural adventurousness. Marketing initiatives include the use of computer-generated visuals and support for local arts events in areas where it buys land. The company values its relationships with suppliers and has a policy of settling invoices within seven days. Furlong is growing steadily, last year registering a 28% increase in turnover to £23.8m; its operating profit rose 51% to £3.9m.

  • third

    Taylor Woodrow Capital Developments
    Specialising in high-quality homes in prime London locations, the firm commissions architects to deliver the design flair for which customers are prepared to pay an average sales price of £425/ft2. For instance, a retained-facade conversion in Drury Lane in London's West End by epr Architects included two new floors for four steel and glass penthouses. The company has embraced e-commerce and put its marketing material on CD-ROMs and the web. Turnover fell 1.4% last year to £42.6m, but operating profit rose 19% to £8.3m.

    They have designed a lifestyle product that people now rush out and buy. They say a house is a buyer’s vision of the future

    They take on ambitious sites, use ambitious designs and do the sort of job that many of the bigger firms do not do nearly as well

    Unbelievably innovative schemes