Country houses for sale

Creating the house of your dreams with Janine Stone

In the first of a new series of masterclasses with Janine Stone, Country Life’s Executive Editor Giles Kime talks to her about the exciting possibilities of creating a new home and the factors that need to be considered when planning one.

Anyone who has attempted to drag a period house kicking and screaming into the 21st century will have occasionally looked enviously at those who build a home from scratch. Every period house, however beautiful, requires an element of compromise, whether it’s position, layout, outlook or efficiency.

It’s easy to forget that every great house was a reflection of the era in which it was built and there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be the case in the 21st century. In the right hands, a new property offers the opportunity to employ seamless design, craftsmanship and the latest technology to create a house that won’t just meet our needs but also those of generations to come.

A designer with an unparalleled track record in transforming existing houses and creating new ones is Janine Stone, who brings an instinctive and intuitive approach to this most exciting of creative journeys.

What do you see as the main benefits of starting a home from scratch?

The only way to have everything perfectly the way you want it, both functionally and aesthetically, is to design and build a new home. Compared to a historic house, which might require regular and ongoing maintenance, a new home can be built to much higher standards thermally and acoustically, with no maintenance necessary for many years. Fully refurbishing a property might cost as much as a new build, but on a new build you pay no VAT — by contrast, refurbishment and extensions are subject to 20% VAT, unless the property has been vacant for two years.

Do you get involved in planning?

Yes, knowing what you are likely to get planning approval for will help guide the client before they buy a property. We provide a pre-purchase service for this very reason.

What are the main disciplines required? And which of these does Janine Stone provide?

A new build requires the creative vision to design a property in the client’s preferred style while meeting the local authority’s planning guidelines. It’s vital to combine architecture with interior architecture and design, so the inside looks as good as the outside and vice versa. Often, a house that looks great doesn’t work on the inside, with windows in the wrong places or rooms that don’t have the correct dimensions to achieve the flow and functionality of a comfortable, elegant home.

Another key ingredient is a skilled construction management team that can manage the quality, cost and build programme to meet the client’s requirements. The consultants employed on most new builds and major renovations include architects, planning consultants, structural engineers, mechanical and electrical consultants, interior designers, lighting designers, site-based project managers and quantity surveyors, plus, of course, 20 or 30 sub contractors, such as ground workers, brick layers and plasterers, as well as the other specialists trades.

All these require careful management and integration into a harmonised construction project team. The Janine Stone team either employs these skills in house or incorporates them within the team to deliver the project seamlessly from start to finish.

What is the typical journey in the creation of a new house?

All projects start with obtaining a client’s brief, after which we explore with them the opportunities for the development of the design. This is then communicated back to the client with concept sketches and computer models that help them visualise the design, so they fall in love with it before the hard work starts. The design will go through various stages before it is submitted for planning approval. Once approval has been obtained, we begin to produce the construction drawings, so the project can be fully costed before work starts.

What is key to a successful outcome?

These include good, well thought-out design, selection of the best sub-contractors to implement the work, plus strong and meticulous management of the sub contractors during the building works to ensure that a high quality is maintained during the build.

It’s also vital that any mistakes are picked up early, so they can be rectified without causing delays or quality issues further down the line. Building a good relationship with the client and gaining their trust, which is based on your track record and your ability to meet their brief, is critical for a smooth journey.

Does Janine Stone get involved in outside spaces and gardens?

We work collaboratively with the selected landscape designer so that the garden and grounds are correctly considered as part of the project and house design. Much of the hard landscaping will take place at the same time as the house is being built and under the Janine Stone management.

For further information, please telephone 020–7349 8888 or visit