In our new regular series, our Community Manager Daisy interviews new arrivals at Sussex Innovation about their business, why they joined, and their plans for growth. Today she chats with David Simmons from Living Space Solved.
What does Living Space Solved do?
We provide a design and build service for the construction of high thermal efficiency detached buildings. These are typically used for school classrooms, garden rooms, home offices, cinemas, studios and annexes. While it's always great to have large open spaces to build on, our build techniques cause minimum disruption and enable us to make use of space that wouldn't be viable with traditional building methods.
So what made you want to start your business?
We recognised the increasing need to provide care homes for relatives, it's often not convenient for either party to give up their independence…similarly, there are increasing factors that often mean children stay at home with their parents longer, in which case both sides can be keen to develop their independence from each other. We started designing annexes and immediately had interest from people that wanted to increase their useable living space, who were considering moving to larger properties, but didn't want to face the costs of moving [and were] keen to explore the option of building house quality offices and studios in unused areas of their garden. The demand helped us identify there was an opportunity to start a business.
What were the challenges you faced setting up the business?
We’re passionate about staying at the forefront of new build techniques and materials. It’s engaging for us to continually learn and evolve - the challenge we face is the sheer volume of new build techniques and materials that are being developed. We’ve come into the market as the evolution in understanding of our impact on the environment and the required measures to reduce that impact are starting to accelerate. It is incumbent upon us to quickly identify what changes to materials and techniques are relevant and would result in the biggest difference for the environment and our customers. When we were setting up the business, we underestimated the volume of analysis. I’ve had more discussions on glazing than I anticipated for this lifetime!
And what was the most important thing you've learnt?
It’s wonderful knowing how great your product or technique is. Conveying new building concepts to our customers when they’ve grown up with ‘bricks and mortar’ has been a learning experience. [I've learnt to] keep the message to what’s relevant.
How are you planning to grow your business with us?
We believe in sourcing support from experts. The internet has enabled businesses to leverage a community of virtual assistants, but we feel it’s always preferable (whenever possible) to have face to face relationships. The Sussex Innovation support team enables us to have this relationship and we’re keen to deepen our partnership with them to support the growth of Living Space.
Have you thought about how you could engage with the University?
The acceleration in new build materials and techniques is being driven by graduate research. We are excited about creating opportunities in Living Space for designers and engineers to bring in this evolving knowledge to keep our products and services at the forefront. We’ll be pursuing engagement with the university in 2018. This was one of the key reasons we chose the Centre.
So what does the future hold?
We launched Living Space as a business in 2017, as a fully bespoke design and build service. We're now in the process of creating some off-the-shelf designs and new concepts to create flexible spaces that can be grown or adapted based on our customers changing needs. We're also in discussion to launch in other European markets.