Whether you're embarking on a new-build or painstakingly restoring a listed building, here is our choice of the craftsmen with excellent foundations.
Nigel Armstrong believes in the power of word of mouth. ‘There’s no substitute for personal recommendation,’ he says. ‘Research your builder thoroughly. Ask questions. Learn how they operate. Learn how the industry operates.’
A solid track record, he says, is vital: ‘Only employ a builder with vast experience of country houses and their owners.’ When comparing tenders and selecting your builder, consider quality, experience and service level, not only money.
Usually, the construction cost is fixed at the start of the work, so it’s essential that the design and specification are complete at this stage. Details that are overlooked before starting on site could cause cost uncertainty and delays.
Somerset-based expert designer and maker of kitchens and joinery-led interiors, this highly creative firm is sensitive to the integrity and requirements of listed and traditional country houses, and is capable of updating them for modern family life.
01934 745270; www.artichoke-ltd.com
This well-established British natural-stone specialist is based in Yeovil, Somerset, producing interior flagstone flooring, external paving and architectural detailing. Recent projects include bespoke stone for the Weston Tower at Westminster Abbey in London, the terrace at Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire and Purbeck stone flooring for the refurbishment of private member’s club Annabel’s, London W1.
01935 847333; www.artoriusfaber.com
This specialist company has been designing and making timber-frame buildings since 1987, with a portfolio that spans commercial and public projects, such as an oak pergola, larch trellising and 22 oak benches for the British Normandy Mem-orial, to residential oak-frame new-builds, cabins and extensions.
01803 732900; www.carpenteroak.com
Distinctive Country Furniture
Owner Brian Purnell has more than 35 years of experience in crafting handmade period-style furniture and architectural joinery, with particular expertise in 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century interiors. His firm can turn its hand to bespoke oak panelling, staircases and fire surrounds all the way through to complete libraries and wine rooms.
01935 825800; www.distinctivecountryfurniture.co.uk
Hare & Humphreys
A Royal Warrant holder and a leading specialist decorator, known for the conservation of historic buildings, this company has recently completed Gallery 32 at the National Gallery, London WC2, which has been restored to its original Victorian polychromatic colour scheme with extensive gilding and stencilling.
020–7833 8806; www.hare-humphreys.co.uk
Locker & Riley
A plasterwork specialist, covering design, production and installation, this family firm has recently restored the lime plaster at the Grade I-listed Buxton Crescent thermal spa, Derbyshire, built by the 5th Duke of Devonshire in the 1780s.
01245 322022; www.lockerandriley.com
This award-winning company designs and builds bespoke oak-framed homes and extensions, as well as new garden buildings and garages. The company uses renewable green oak and can also advise on energy efficiency. In 2018, Oakwrights completed the first oak-framed Passivhaus in the UK, using its own encapsulation panels.
01432 353353; www.oakwrights.co.uk
This company is the market leader in the manufacture and construction of oak-frame garden rooms and orangeries in the UK and also produces timber-frame garages, annexes and stables, using sustainable oak air-dried in its own yards.
01384 296611; www.primeoak.co.uk
R. Moulding & Co
Two of the current directors of this family-owned building company, Bill and Tim Moulding, are part of the original family who started the business more than 200 years ago. The firm continues to specialise in construction, restoration, maintenance and landscaping, operating within a 50-mile radius of its home in Salisbury, Wiltshire.
01722 742228; www.rmoulding.co.uk
R. W. Armstrong
This Hampshire-based family-owned residential building company was founded in 1957 and covers London and the south of England, specialising in top-quality new-build homes and the refurbishment of period and listed properties. It also offers an in-house bespoke-joinery service.
01256 850177; www.rwarmstrong.co.uk
Stevensons of Norwich
From a bespoke decorative plaster ceiling for a ballroom to handmade cornices and ceiling roses, Stevensons of Norwich is considered an expert in creating, installing and restoring all kinds of plasterwork. The firm is currently restoring the original Georgian and neo-Classical architectural features of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London W1.
01603 400824; www.stevensons-of-norwich.co.uk
Established more than 40 years ago, this family-run bespoke joinery firm can produces traditional timber panelling, ceilings, doors, staircases and furniture. The company also offers historic research and consultancy services, as well as expert advice on period details.
01935 826659; www.stuartinteriors.com
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