Adrien von Ferscht: Why we're all going rental
The luxury apartment designer tells us that the to-let market is back in business.
New builds and major refurbishment projects are out - and top-end rentals are in.
That, at least, is the opinion of Glasgow-based international architect Adrien Von Ferscht. He argues that in the current climate, renting a high-spec house is likely to prove more attractive to homeowners than buying.
The 66-year-old, who has more than 40 years' experience creating interiors for private homes across the world, has turned his attention to the UK rentals market. He recently completed designs for 45 bespoke, luxury apartments in Glasgow intended for long-term rents.
Mr Von Ferscht says: "In university towns, there was a niche market where wealthy parents would consider buying a flat for their child as an investment, but that doesn't exist any more.
"I would say that the wealthier parents are probably now looking to rent decent accommodation for their children when they are at university."
High-spec vision: Adrien von Ferscht designed 45 top-end apartments in Olympic House for the rental market in Glasgow
The Glasgow project, called Olympic House, is believed to be a first in the city. He says: "It's 45 apartments for the rental market furnished down to the teaspoons in the kitchen drawer."
It is also a first for Mr Von Ferscht's company, Collins Von Ferscht (CVF), which has teamed up with leading home-furnishing chain Dwell. He hopes the collaboration will be a blueprint for future schemes across the UK.
The flats, which cost between £550 and £1,300 a month, are proving particularly popular with businessmen and young professionals relocating to the area.
Mr Von Ferscht has worked in the US and South Africa. He also spent 14 years in Israel where he worked on more than 30 projects, including Okeanos [Ocean Colony] and Beachfront Residential Complex - both in Herzliya, top-end and, he says, popular with wealthy Jews from overseas.
Mr Von Ferscht says Israel's construction market is completely different to in the UK.
"Israel is another world. The work that I was involved in was high-end and I was dealing with wealthy people, designing their second or third homes, and so you have to contend with project managing and getting the quality that people from overseas are used to getting.
"It is not easy to get quality of finish in Israel. To do that, you have to be there every minute of the day overseeing the construction, which is different to here. In the UK, there is more of a quality and work ethic. It has got better in Israel but it's still not what you might find in Europe or America.
"And the cost of labour for bespoke work in Israel is much higher. I had to teach carpenters how to achieve the standard."
Mr Von Ferscht left Israel in the late 1990s to re-establish himself in the UK. It has been a tough time for British architects of late, who have been savaged by the recession, but Mr Von Ferscht says that he has not felt any effects.
"I haven't found my business to be on a downturn at all. In fact, I haven't been as busy as I am now for about five years.
"There are not enough hours in the day for me to get all my work done."
Perhaps things are picking up then? "You're asking the wrong person. I have never experienced a downturn. I don't really know about the outside world. I only know my own world."
He is currently working on a £1.5 million refurbishment on a house in Winnington Road, Hampstead, north London. "People who live in Winnington Road aren't in general affected by a recession," he adds.
For the past 20 years, Mr Von Ferscht, who has no plans to retire, has also worked as a consultant to various luxury hotels to help raise their profile. Clients he has been involved with include London's Grosvenor House and The Savoy.