THE search is on to find Scotland's best new homes, and the judges in The Herald Property Awards for Scotland 2012, in association with YourPlace, are set to embark on a summer of site visits and rigorous inspections of the contenders for this year's awards.
The question they will be asking themselves in all of the key categories is: What makes this home stand out from the rest?
But that question will have particular resonance in the case of show homes and luxury properties.
Here, at the aspirational end of the market, developers will have to demonstrate that they are offering substantially more than their competitors if they are to have any hope of winning an accolade.
The Best Show Home award for properties less than 1800 sq ft is being sponsored by Daw Signs, the leading independent sign installers to the construction industry.
In this category, judges will be expecting to find a design scheme that makes the best use of the available space and matches the expectations of purchasers, while introducing some unusual elements.
Last year's winner was Miller Homes for The Humber at Doune Riggs.
Anne Marie Britton, sales director for Miller Homes Scotland East, says: "The Herald Property Awards for Scotland are important and influential to the housing market in Scotland so to win the award was a fantastic achievement.
"Bringing our properties to life through creating show homes is one of the most important things we do."
In the Best Luxury Show Home category, which was won last year by Robertson Homes for The Azure Grand at their King's Park development in Ayr, the judges will be looking for high-quality fixtures and fittings in a sumptuous interior.
Melissa Burns, sales and marketing manager at Robertson Homes, says: "The Herald judges have a very thorough understanding of the property market and we were honoured when the Azure Grand show home won such a fantastic accolade."
There are two awards this year for luxury properties. The Best Luxury Home for developers building more than 50 units a year was won last year by Charles Church for The Wessex, at Rowallan Castle, in Kilmaurs.
This substantial, five-bedroom home impressed the judges with its layout and the quality of the finishes.
This year the award is being sponsored by Scotland's largest property advertising website, s1homes.com, which numbers all of Scotland's leading housebuilders among its 35,000 properties for sale or rent.
Meanwhile, in the Best Luxury Home category, open to developers building less than 50 units per year, the judges will be looking for innovative and sustainable design and high quality craftsmanship.
That's exactly what they found last year at Plot 3 of the Avenel project by Scops Developments at Kilmacolm.
Here, six luxury homes, each one individually designed, have been set within eight acres of wooded policies on the outskirts of one of Scotland's most affluent and desirable villages.
Plot 3 is occupied by a six-bedroom mansion, built to traditional standards, but incorporating the best of 21st-century design.
The wings of the house lead off from a double-height, octagonal hallway, with the staircase curling round inside it and include three reception rooms, a state-of-the-art kitchen, elegant fireplaces and double or triple aspects from every room over the gardens and surrounding woodland.
Wendy Fleming, who led the design team that worked on Avenel, said: "Winning Luxury House of the Year 2011 for Plot 3 at Avenel was thrilling for all those involved in the development.
"Despite difficult market conditions, Scops Developments have refused to compromise on the quality of finish or skimp on the high level of finishes that feature throughout their properties.
"The Herald Property Award for Best Luxury Home recognised this, as well as the unique, stunning garden setting at Avenel.
"Winning the award has recognised the level of detail that goes into an Avenel house and we have been able to use the award to assist with marketing the remaining available houses."
Best Show Home
(For properties less than 1800 sq ft.) Sponsored by Daw Signs. Judges will look for a design that is appropriate for the property and its potential purchasers and which enhances the home's interior space. Style, colour, fabrics, fixtures and fittings and unusual features are some of the qualities being rewarded.
Best Luxury Show Home
(For properties more than 1800 sq ft.)
This category will reward homes at the top end of the market. The best luxury home will combine quality fixtures and fittings with a tasteful design scheme to create a sumptuous interior that reflects the property's size.
Best Luxury Home
For developers building more than 50 units per year. Sponsored by s1homes.com. This award rewards spacious and stylish properties. Design, quality of finish, landscaping, fixtures and fittings and location will be combined to create a spacious and well-designed home.
Best Luxury Home
For developers building less than 50 units per year. This is open to builders who specialise in creating unique, luxury homes in prestigious locations. Consideration will be given to an innovative design, craftsmanship, quality of materials as well as the property's sustainability.
Best Family Home
Sponsored by Space and Time Media.
Affordability, good value and meeting the needs of a family with children are key. Judges will be looking for adaptability, space saving, safety and convenience in a well-located property built with the family in mind.
Sponsored by Ross + Liddell.
For all sizes of apartment. Judges will look for site layout, design, presentation, storage, communal areas, useability and value for money.
Individual New Build or Best Renovation Project
An individual new build with outstanding environmental credentials, a conversion to fit a specific need or a sympathetic restoration project using traditional or modern skills – this award will highlight projects which stand out and may address unique needs.
Best Regeneration Project
Open to projects of all sizes, as well as public and private sector companies and partnerships. Entries should show innovative use of brown field sites as well as design and consideration for green issues. The project should demonstrate value for money and how the area has been revitalised for those who live and work there.
Property Innovation of the Year
This category will reward innovative developers who are finding new ways of attracting customers, by using financial, technical, contractual or marketing innovations. The innovation should, however, have been launched and be available within the entry period guidelines.
Professional Adviser of the Year
This award will recognise an individual or business that supports the homebuilding industry in Scotland. Entrants must be able to demonstrate a record of quality advice and service that benefits the market and clients. Examples could be architects, surveyors, accountants, financial services or designers.
Social Housing Development of the Year
Sponsored by YourPlace. This is open to registered social landlords in Scotland. The judges will be looking for evidence of a social housing development that has impacted positively on the lives of residents and contributed towards regeneration. Consideration will be given to the use of sustainable materials and building techniques, as well as the impact on the local environment.
Development of the Year
Presented by Scotland's Homes.
Site layout, design, range of house types and amenities are key. Judges will be looking for a development that has been carefully planned to make the most of its location.
Book a place now
The Herald Property Awards for Scotland 2012 will take place on Thursday, September 13, 2012 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Glasgow. Arrival is at 7pm for a Champagne reception. The evening is an important and popular date in the housebuilding industry's calendar and tables are once again expected to be in high demand. Tables of 10 are available for £900 + VAT. The ticket price includes a Champagne reception, three-course dinner with coffee, ceremony and entertainment. Details can be found at http://www.herald-events.com/propertyawards/. To book, call Victoria Scott on 0141 302 7319 or email Victoria.Scott@heraldandtimes.co.uk
Go for gold
If you would like to enter The Herald Property Awards for Scotland 2012 you can download an entry form online at http://www.herald-events.com/propertyawards/ or telephone 0141 302 7319