Category 3: Medium Renovation Projects
Professional residential /domestic restoration refurbishment or extension costing between £50,000 - £250,000
Project: Construction of a stone built sun lounge fitting for a grand Scottish home
COOL, CALM AND COLLECTED
First-class craftsmanship, a cool head and amazing levels of patience from Derek Bell of Dunkeld Builders Ltd won them the absolute respect and admiration of client Gordon Mitchell for their work on the grand and historic Bonskeid House.
Originally built in 1881 as a glorious and opulent Scottish family home, the castle-like Bonskeid House in Forfar suffered significant architectural damage in the 1960s when it became a youth hostel and was altered to create cheap accommodation for large groups.
When current owners Gordon and Betty Mitchell bought the house in 2002, they were determined to recapture the look and feel of the original granite and sandstone Victorian hunting lodge by knocking down the ugly 1960s ‘carbuncle of an extension’ and replacing it with a large sun lounge totally in keeping with the original property.
As Bonskeid House is a listed building, Historic Scotland was involved in overseeing the building work. It was therefore vital that all materials perfectly matched those in the main building and the design reflected the style of the original building.
However what should have been a relatively simple project was beset with problems from the outset, as the granite and sandstone which was delivered was not only the wrong colour but also the stone was incorrectly cut. This resulted in the builders having to find quarries able to supply the correct replacement stone, re-cut the stone on site and even make the castellations. None of these specialist materials were available at local builders merchants, so it was very much a stop-start build. This caused huge delays, turning a six-month sprint into a two year marathon.
However the Mitchells were both impressed and grateful for the way in which Derek Bell and Dunkeld Builders brought calm to a stressful and irritating situation. They worked meticulously to make sure all the stone was the correct colour and shape, displaying craft skills that more than matched those of the craftsmen who built the original property.
Said Gordon: "Derek was a wonderfully calming influence. We were very annoyed and stressed by the problems, but he managed to keep a cool head and find solutions to these real stumbling blocks, which meant the project could move forwards. He was extremely patient and helpful and we worked together to solve all the problems. He became a good friend. The builders brought a wonderful standard of craftsmanship too.
"Despite all the problems, the builder built exactly what we asked for, matching the existing house and looking as though it should be there," added Gordon.
The result is a property that oozes old fashioned craftsmanship and care, and enhances the architecture of the original hunting lodge.
The judging panel described Derek Bell and Dunkeld Builders as "an exemplary case of first class craftsmanship overcoming problems in a quiet and confident manner without any fuss. The resultant sun lounge will be a lasting testament to their skill for years to come."