Just a quick one this month: we received some really useful feedback from the planning officer for our latest project over in Smarden. We’re always grateful when the planners take the time to give a thoughtful response to our questions. We’ll be taking it on board over the next few weeks to see how it informs our approach going forward.
: Smarden Wildlife
Our Smarden project is in a fantastic rural location, surrounded by wildlife. To make sure we’re doing everything possible to help, we’ve selected ecologist Marcus Fry to advise us. We’re timing our works to fit in around the natural cycles of our animal inhabitants; we’ve done what we can for now, and are now waiting for Spring for the next phase!
: We love a bargain!
We recently became registered with PEATA – the Professional Extraction Airflow Testers Alliance – for one of our projects. Building Compliance is becoming progressively more onerous, and we’ve found we are spending more & more on professional testing consultants – for air tightness, EPCs, sound tests, and so on. PEATA does a really straightforward online training course for Part F flow rate tests for just £80. It took us around an hour to complete the course one evening on the sofa, and then we were competent to do the test ourselves. Considering we’ve paid more than £65 for these tests in the past, this was a no-brainer for us – doing the tests we needed only took 15 minutes, including creating the PEATA Flow Rate Test certificate. Money well spent!
: Pigs and goats and geese, oh my!
We’ve just taken possession of what promises to be an exciting new project near Smarden. We’ve done some repairs to the existing buildings, and are waiting for the previous owners to finish clearing out their goods – including the livestock! Does anyone want a pig?
: Lovely Homes
After a short break, we’re back in the saddle! We’re looking at a few new projects currently, and we’ve got some fabulous homes on the market at the moment – see our main page for details!
: In by Christmas?
We’ve had some delays on this project, but the end is within reach. The carpets are coming next week, the final clean is booked, and the turf is being laid as I write. I don’t mind the time over-runs most of the time – in a complex project on an old building, things are bound to come up, and it’s always worth taking the time to put them right. Supply & install issues are more frustrating, but again, I’d rather make sure the final result is something we can be really proud of – and we really are. These old barns, with their lovely herringbone brickwork and their lightwells made from old Kilner jars, always had the potential to make stunning homes, but a lot of thought, planning and effort was required to make sure they retained their character. It’s fab to see it all paying off as we come into the final few days :-)
PS – we’re waiting for them to be 100% finished before putting them on the market, but if you want a sneak preview, then do get in touch
: Home straight
What a transformation! The final kitchen has gone in to our barns at Headcorn, and it looks amazing. With the new glass doors (as well as a lot of work by the landscape gardeners), we can now have our tea break looking across the newly-tilled fields to the ruined oast beyond. With the sun burning through the mist this morning, it looked breathtaking. Inside, the beautiful oak-and-glass staircase is currently carefully wrapped in protective cardboard so we can get the bathrooms up without damage, but when it is revealed it looks stunning.
We’re still a couple of weeks away from full completion, but it won’t be long now.
: The Importance of Relationships
Being a small, family-run business has many perks, but getting invited to work-related social events isn’t often one of them! It was therefore a particular pleasure to spend the day with our friends from JenCo Electrical at Brands Hatch today, watching the final of the British Touring Car Championships. We’ve worked with Andy and his team for years, and they embody exactly the ethos that Raspberry Homes strives for: great workmanship, complete reliability, and total honesty. It’s not easy to find the right people to work with, so when we do find them we try to build relationships which last. Taking some time to socialise outside the hard-graft environment of our work sites is a great way to do that.
: New Faces
We’ve got a really strong team of tradespeople here at Raspberry Homes, who return to our jobs time after time. It’s one of the things we really value as a company. We can completely rely on our craftsmen to work to the high levels we make routine on our projects; conversely, they can rely on us to give them the quality materials and support they need to do their jobs at the highest standards, never pressurising them to cut corners, and that’s why they keep coming back to our sites. It costs us a little more to work like that, but we can’t imagine doing it any other way.
Consequently, it’s not often that we have new people on site – we’ll occasionally have people in for specialist or unusual works, but for the bread-and-butter trades it’s our trusted faces that are around. This month, we’ve had a new team in fitting some heritage Crittal-replacement windows for us. We don’t usually use aluminium windows – most of our projects require timber – which is why we got some specialists involved. It’s been a challenge, but they’re getting to grips with the Raspberry Homes approach and the final appearance is going to be amazing!
: Bathroom Shopping
The conversion of our beautiful barns is going full-steam ahead. First fix is all but finished, the tackers are busy filling walls with insulation, and I’m writing this while waiting for delivery of the bathroom suites. Shopping for bathrooms for a build like this is always one of the fun parts of the job. The spaces in barns are often quirky, and finding innovative ways to use them always leads to lively discussions between the designer and the plumber! Vaulted sloping ceilings in the master bathroom here inspired a free-standing roll-top bath with a hanging traditional circular curtain rail enveloping it, and modern floor-standing taps to set it off. I can’t wait to see it finished!