Cumbria-based Carrock Design and Build has had a long and fruitful relationship with the FMB Awards having secured individual regional wins in 2007 and 2010 that were followed by a double success in 2012. This consistency was further underlined in the latest national awards with the company going one step further to triumph in the New Home of the Year category. The achievement is all the more impressive given the range of challenges that had to be overcome on the award-winning project as Malcolm Iredale, Managing Director, recently explained to Construction Industry News.
“The client asked us to design an executive home on a plot of land in the grounds of a listed building, which complicated matters to a degree,” outlines Mr Iredale. “There were also strict planning requirements on height and tree preservation orders on what was quite a tight, sloping site. Once we’d carried out the design work we realised that the site was too small for the size of house that the client required because there simply wasn’t enough room to have any outbuildings due to the orders regarding tree preservation and protection of root zones. As a consequence we recommended a multi-level design with a basement level for the renewable biomass heating system that the client wanted. All the while we ensured that the design was in-keeping with the local vernacular architecture.”
To ensure the property fitted in with the surrounding area Carrock Design and Build utilised local materials and the efforts of the suppliers played a key role in overcoming some of the issues associated with the tightness of the site. “The stone quarry was only two miles away, which was fantastic because it enabled the suppliers to deliver goods just-in-time as we needed them,” adds Mr Iredale. “This was essential as we simply didn’t have any storage facilities onsite at all.
“The entire supply chain were first class and the job wouldn’t have been achieved without their support. We’ve dealt with the likes of Travis Perkins and JT Atkinson on many occasions and they really came up trumps for us again. The local stonemasons were also brilliant as they normally only have one delivery a week but were delivering to us on a daily basis. They really put themselves out to help us thanks to the relationship we’ve been able to forge with them.”
In addition to the complexities associated with the site, another challenge was the weather, which lengthened the time of the project. “Originally the timeframe was 12 months but we crept just over due to the poor winter. The site was flooded twice and as we were digging out the cellar 15ft below the neighbouring property this obviously caused some issues. It was a constant battle with the elements and I believe this is partly why the FMB picked the project out. The determination we demonstrated as a company to get the project finished in face of the adverse weather conditions and the other site-related issues was a real credit to the entire team.”
“The entire supply chain were first class and the job wouldn’t have been achieved without their support. We’ve dealt with the likes of Travis Perkins and JT Atkinson on many occasions and they really came up trumps for us again. The local stonemasons were also brilliant as they normally only have one delivery a week but were delivering to us on a daily basis.”
Malcolm Iredale, Managing Director
As for the collective spirit that saw the company overcome the hurdles that were put in its way, Mr Iredale feels the strength and commitment of the workforce was essential. “We’ve got an excellent team and all of our staff are grounded in heritage works. Those are our roots which are reflected in our passion for listed buildings and the local domestic architecture of Cumbria. We were able to transpose our skills into the new build arena, particularly our dedication to quality and client service.
“To have come through all those difficulties and achieve this latest award means a great deal. We’ve been trying for ten years to get the national award having won regional awards in the past so to get to the next level is fabulous, although it was also something of a surprise. I nearly fell off my chair when they announced us as winners! It gives us countrywide exposure as a company, which is great as many of our potential clients are out of county homeowners that have second homes or who are looking to retire to Cumbria.
“We have a full order book for 2015 and the potential is there to maintain that momentum in the longer term but as an SME it would be hugely beneficial to receive more assistance. We’ve experienced one of the worst depressions the building industry has ever seen and yet we’ve still managed to grow year-in, year-out, taking on apprentices and additional staff as we’ve done so. Despite this growth and the award recognition we’ve received there continues to be little support available for SMEs and micro-businesses, particularly from the banks. Funding is available to the big boys that don’t need the money – the Persimmon Homes and Wimpeys of this world – and yet regional builders aren’t supported. It’s tremendously frustrating, particularly as SMEs are the powerhouse of the country so they need to be supported, especially if they are to produce the volume of housing that this country so desperately needs. We just need to keep nagging away and that’s what the FMB are doing, which is why we’re so very proud of our latest award. It’s a great pat on the back for the staff that we employ and it was a fabulous night. Our goal is to win the overall national award next year and we have projects that are more than capable of doing so.”
With such an insatiable desire to keep pushing itself to the next level it is little wonder that Carrock Design and Build has been able to demonstrate such consistency over the years. Hopefully it and the other SMES will soon receive the support they need to maximise their skills in order to play their part in addressing the nation’s housing shortage.