Trottenden Oast, Lidwells Lane, Goudhurst Kent TN17 1ES

This renovation began in November 2018 and ran for a full 10 months - during this time, and due to the fact that not one part of the building was left untouched, the clients placed their furniture and belongings in storage and moved into a rental property while the work was carried out.

This renovation, extension and refurbishment included two two-storey extensions, a complete re-wire and re-plumb, a new kitchen and bathrooms, and a re-model of the entire inside of the property which required every room being gutted. The client also wanted the already converted loft refurbished and the roof stripped to be re-tiled. Last on the list was to replace all the old UPVC windows and dress the house in hanging tiles.

So in short, this was a very big project and despite the house not being that old, various works had previously been completed over the years of varying degrees of quality, which meant that not only did our order of works need to change, but we had to reconsult with the engineer on several occasions.

Once everything was exposed, and we had the new engineer's specification, we could proceed with a new order of works. The first step was to dig the footings for the two new extensions and start building - given the amount of remodelling that was happening to the existing structure, this was also necessary to support the rest of the work.

 

While the original plan was to simply strip the tiles from the roof and replace the felt, baton and tiles, because the engineer had essentially condemned the structure which made up the floor of the loft conversion, which obviously formed part of the roof, it all had to come off and be rebuilt.

In order to do this in the latter part of the year, and also taking into account the British weather and its unpredictability, the whole build was covered by a scaffold roof.

 

 

 

During this process and ongoing through the build, we installed some 17 pieces of steel across the three floors as per the engineers specification. A considerable portion of these were due to the remodel and virtually every load bearing wall within the property moving.

With the brick work up, steels in place, new roof finished and windows replaced, we were able to begin on insulation, first fix electrics and plumbing. The property was now 5 bedroom with 4 bathrooms, a cloak room, kitchen and utility room, plus underfloor heating.

From here the job was more run-of-the-mill - plastering, tiling, fitting bathrooms and the kitchen, decorating and completing the outside of the property.

     

     

     

     

     

 

 

This project was the extension and remodel of a 14th century listed cottage in Laddingford, Kent. The objective was to extend the property in order to give the clients a proper family kitchen, renovate their downstairs bathroom, replace wiring and plumbing and heating system, remove an exterior wall and create an interior partition between two existing downstairs areas.

On this project, the clients had a very definite idea of how they wanted their extension to look, to both be in keeping with the existing timber framed cottage, and to make a real feature out of it. Previously, their kitchen was a small area inside the main building, and what was essentially a utility room in a badly built lean to. With the architect, they had designed a cathedral fronted, oak framed, vaulted ceiling room, which would become their new kitchen. Their old kitchen space would then become their dining room. Their old downstairs bathroom was to change in shape and size and become a far more usable shower room and toilet. The kitchen was designed by the client and bespoke kitchen manufacturer. As with all of our projects we offered design advice and support throughout – one notable example would be changing the cross beams and king posts in the roof structure to oak, as the architect had specified smaller soft wood beams. We felt that this would ruin the whole look of the extension.

The biggest challenge on this particular project was tying the extension into the existing property – not only did it need to be joined to the main building, but we also had to tie it into what remained of the single storey extension which contained their downstairs bathroom and was joined to the property next door. This meant we had three roof structures to consider, structural supports to install due to removing an exterior wall and the inherent issues of working on a property hundreds of years old. While this wasn’t an obstacle, constructing the cathedral front on the extension posed a specific challenge due to its size and weight as we constructed the whole thing on site using traditional methods.

This project in itself was designed to be a special feature on the property and make their family kitchen a beautiful and functional room to be in, overlooking their garden. The special features on this property include their new shower room, oak cross beams and king posts, custom made oak window frames and double doors, the solid oak cathedral front, underfloor heating, Kent peg tile roof, bespoke kitchen and new heating system. This job was also about the small details, which included a custom made oak threshold between two rooms, a new antique style radiator, wooden boxing, shelf work and exposed brickwork.

    

    

    

    

This project was the full refurbishment of a loyal client’s family bathroom suite in their listed manor house. The last work we did for this family was their kitchen, which we won a regional award for in 2017.

The clients had designed the bathroom themselves, with a little help from an interior designer friend of theirs and had a very clear idea of what they wanted to achieve, which was very much the case with the kitchen we completed. They had everything chosen from tiles, units, sanitary ware and the type of shower. Like many of our clients they are a pleasure to work for and their meticulous nature suits the way we work down to the ground. They had chosen a walk-in shower/wet room, a free-standing claw foot bath, double sink unit and concealed cistern/floating toilet. Like the other rooms we have completed for them all the oak was refurbished, ceilings replaced, and everything done to the last detail.

Their house presents us with plenty of obstacles, purely because of its age. The only way to tackle this bathroom was to completely gut the room and remove the bathroom upon bathroom fitted before. This included replacing the wall between the bathroom and the adjoining room as it was just one layer of lath and plaster. Given the age of the building the floor was ridiculously out of level which had to be sorted first – we couldn’t touch the joists and we couldn’t touch the floorboards as they formed the ceiling in the room below. We built a frame and sympathetically levelled the floor. This meant a step into the bathroom was created, so we had to remove and shorten the original oak door to get it to fit. Once we had a level ‘playing field’ we could begin assembling their dream bathroom.

The bathroom boasts all new electrics, lighting and plumbing (including a newly installed pump) to boost the water pressure for their shower. They have a claw foot, free-standing bath under in front of the window with a floor standing mixer tap, plus a concealed cistern, floating toilet. The real feature in this room though is the remote walk-in shower/wet room with contrasting tiles and mosaics. We also made them a shelf for shampoo bottles complete with glass shelf and light, plus a little cupboard next to the toilet for convenient storage. All the oak in the room was refurbished and the ceiling was also stripped out and replaced – a challenge in itself between oaks as old as these.

    

    

    

This job was for another regular client in another listed, period property. Despite the size of the room and the fact that it was technically a kitchen, it got very little use. The clients used a smaller area for food prep. The main reason this room was rarely used, was because of the huge beam above the top of the Aga, which for them was below head height.

     

It was obstructive and made using the Aga very difficult and annoying. The beam also encroached into the room and was supported by a pillar, which again took up space and was located in an awkward position.

Essentially, fitting a new kitchen was pointless and irrelevant if we couldn't deal with the issue of the beam. The beam's purpose was to support part of a chimney above it - why something that big was put in for that we have no idea, but we came up with a solution.

     

We built a load bearing wall to the left of the Aga, supported the concrete lintels under the chimney with a piece of steel and trimmed back the lintels to an appropriate length. Once complete we could remove the old beam, and the pillar that propped up the other end of it.

Another simple but fairly sizeable challenge was to install the large decorative oak beams across the room, locate and deal with some buried pipework, re-wire, re-plumb and remove some rather interesting decorative features in the room.

     

From this point onwards it was a pretty straightforward kitchen fit, which has turned a relatively unused room in their house, into the heart of the home again.

   

     

 

This project was originally to convert an unlisted barn into a three bedroom residence for a client of ours in Goudhurst Kent, who we have previously done an enormous job for before. The barn is on their land and they intended to use it as a holiday let or a residential let. The project changed because the original oak structure of the barn was not suitable for conversion and the engineer condemned it – we had no choice but to take the whole thing down and start again.

The client’s architect and engineer had already designed the build with their input, what we had to do was build the barn from scratch on the existing footprint. The build consisted of an open plan downstairs lounge/dining/kitchen area, with a cloakroom. Upstairs there’s a master bedroom with en-suite and walk-in wardrobe, two further bedrooms and a bathroom. Being essentially a new build, we looked after the full heating system (including underfloor heating), wiring and plumbing.

The first and most obvious obstacle was the condition of the barn due for conversion. The barn wasn’t listed because it was bought and moved from another site, but unfortunately put together in such a way that it was simply dangerous and practically falling down – the condition of the oak was also very poor. The barn was carefully dismantled and the oak set to one side. Once we had the original footings checked and properly levelled, we could begin building a new barn. Being a new build in the countryside, we had the challenge of getting it on mains electricity, water and drainage. Access and space also proved a little challenging due to the build being on a hill, with only a small track to access it.

As with all of our projects we always consider energy efficiency, insulation and waste. On this project we also had to look after an endangered species. On inspection bats were found in the loft, which are a protected species. The conservation team that visited us made sure the bats in the loft of the barn we were due to demolish were carefully caught and released elsewhere. Because the old barn had bats living in it, we had to make sure that the new barn could accommodate them too, in case more bats made it their home in future. They consulted with us and visited the site several times to inspect what we had done and that it was suitable. This included sectioning off one area of the loft (which we made bigger than they asked), leaving the insulation out from between the roof joists so the bats could hang from the felt, and leaving a gap between the weather boarding and soffit from them to access the loft.

Again, Kate and Richard are good friends of ours. We first me them after being commissioned to build their mansion family home and this is the third job we have done for them. The barn we built for them was just a couple of hundred yards from this house, so we saw them on a daily basis. Despite the project changing because we had to demolish the old barn, doing it that way saved them a great deal of time and money – a fact that we explained to them and proved it was the best course of action. While the oak frame of the old barn wasn’t in a suitable condition to convert, it was still worth money to someone, so we helped them get it sold and picked up.

     

     

     

WHO ARE THE FEDERATION OF MASTER BUILDERS?

The Federation of Master Builders is the largest trade association in the UK construction industry, representing thousands of firms in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Established in 1941 to protect the interests of small and medium-sized (SME) construction firms, the FMB is independent and non-profit making, lobbying for members' interests at both the national and local level.

Master Builders can access a range of business support services to help grow, improve and protect their businesses. FMB members are professionally vetted and independently inspected on joining and can offer a warranty on their work.

OUR MANIFESTO: BUILD BETTER

When it comes to building quality, you deserve better. That's why for over 75 years, the not-for-profit Federation of Master Builders has championed continuous improvement in building standards.

The FMB goes beyond simple checks and ratings. Instead, we independently inspect and vet our members to provide credible proof of their quality.

And we go further to provide ongoing training, contracts and warranty protection for the work. So whether you're a Master Builder or a client dreaming of a masterpiece, you're assured of a better experience.

Because building better means building trust. So as a member you know your business will be supported and promoted. And as a homeowner you will know you're working with the right people.

Look for the sign you can trust and make your building experience better.

In 2016 Bridgehurst Builders won the South East region's award for 'Best Kitchen Project'.

In 2014 Bridgehurst Builders won the South East region's award for 'Best Bathroom Project'.

In 2012 Bridgehurst Builders won the South East region's award for 'Energy Efficiency'.

This listed building in Ticehurst, has for hundreds of years, been two business premises. Anything from a gardening shop to a solicitors. Originally of course it was just one house, and while our clients were living in the property and had been for a number of years, they wanted it put back to how it was originally. The two doors, floor to ceiling windows and internal division didn't make for a comfortable and enjoyable front room.

Removing the front of the house wasn't that much of a challenge, but we had to take into account that the clients would still be living in the property while all the work was carried out.

     

Quite often with a building this age, it makes sense and is quite often necessary to go that bit further while the work is being carried out, so we stripped the tiles off from the top half of the building in order to insulate, re-felt, restore the windows and re-hang the tiles.

     

The next stage was to build the new bays and rebuild the brick work in order to make the new door central to the property.

     

From here the rest of the job was relatively simple - fit the new bay windows and door, re-fit the original hand rails for the steps, have the lead fitted on the roof above the bays and over the door then finish. While we were there, the client also asked us to do some decorating inside their new living room and lay a new floor.

     

 

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