The winner in this category demonstrated that it is perfectly possible to sell houses even in the worst slump in living memory - all you have to do is build good ones
This category is aimed at firms who have completed less than 1000 homes in a year.
- First Base
First Base may be a young company, but it has already found its voice. In the five years that it has been in operation, it has worked to realise its vision of sustainable London communities that regenerate and innovate. And with the opening of its first project last year - Adelaide Wharf in Hackney, east London - it has gone from strength to strength. In what has been a difficult year for housebuilders, it has managed to sell all of the 1,227 homes it built. It has also received planning permission for, and started building, its next generation of homes. It has begun construction of Printworks, a development in Southwark, south London, and secured planning permission for developments elsewhere in London - in Greenwich, Islington, Stratford and Barking.
Design is central to First Base's success. It recognises its value in volume housing, so it commissions leading architects such as Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and Glenn Howells to design its developments. There aren't many housebuilders that can say they have a Pritzker prize winner and a Stirling prize nominee on their books. First Base also set new standards this year in working with the public sector, joining up with Barking and Dagenham council to create the UK's first local housing company. This will build up to 8,000 homes in east London with the support of the Homes and Communities Agency. With a distinct brand identity, a taste for exciting and important projects and a belief in the value of sustainability and good design, First Base is setting the bar high for all volume housebuilders in London and the UK.
- Midas Homes
Midas Homes, the housebuilding arm of Galliford Try in the south-west of England, has set a new standard for individual, innovative developments in Devon and Cornwall. However, in the present economic situation, that is not enough to ensure success. So the firm, which won this award in 2007, has set up several pioneering ways to help first-time buyers to clamber onto the housing ladder. This has been the key to the company's success, because not only has it contributed to the mortgage payments of some of its first-time buyers, it has also paid their stamp duty and legal fees where appropriate. In the year that the Home Information Packs were introduced, it set up a system whereby it organises and pays for the packs. With a focus on customer service and innovative construction, Midas has ensured that it is leading the way for small and medium-sized housebuilders.