Master Builder of the Year 2007 winner of the Medium Renovation Project category
Ecclesiastical buildings require especially sensitive restoration, and are not for the faint- hearted owner or contractor. Because of their grand scale though, they lend themselves to big, bold design and dramatic flourishes.
FMB member, Trevor Hyatt of Linley Developments won the ‘Medium Renovation’ category in the Master Builder of the Year Awards 2007, for turning a derelict church into a stunning family home. This award is for professional residential or domestic refurbishment or extension costing between £100,000 and £300,000 and was sponsored by British Gypsum and Travis Perkins.
Tony and Carmen Redondo had a dream to create a warm, welcoming family home. When they bought a derelict Grade ll listed church in Hertfordshire, which already had planning permission to be turned into a four bedroomed house, they appointed Trevor Hyatt of Linley Developments in St Albans, to carry out the work for them. Linley Developments is well known in the Hertfordshire area for its ability to sympathetically restore old properties, and this is the second project the company has carried out for Mr and Mrs Redondo.
Linley Developments, is a family run business established for over 25 years. The company has built up a good and loyal local client base in Hertfordshire, and has been an FMB member for about ten years, initially applying for membership to give assurance to potential clients. Over the years though, Trevor has made full use of his membership, singling out the helpline, competitive insurance cover, Master Builder magazine, and the website for up-to-date information and research into any unusual or specific enquiries, as being particularly helpful.
Trevor, and Linley Developments hadn’t tackled the redevelopment of a church, before this project, so his first course of action was to meet the local conservation officer. All three parties, the owners, the conservation officer and the contractor shared the same determination to retain as much of the original fabric of the building as possible.
The owners put their complete faith into Linley Developments and encouraged Trevor and his team to be the first point of contact with the conservation officer, they were happy also for Trevor to advise them on all design aspects of the projects, materials and even lighting effects.
The stained glass window on the front elevation was left in place
There was major structural work to complete though before much attention could be given to lighting – the roof was removed, and insulation was installed before it was completely re-slated. It had been the intention of the owners to install rooflights to bring more light into the building, but as the south side of the church looked out onto the village, the conservation officer put his foot down.
Trevor suggested that Mr and Mrs Redondo should seek advice from a lighting specialist, and although it was expensive, they felt in the end that it was money well spent. They now have light flooding into their bedroom through a glass floor in the gallery, fibre-optic lights set into the ceiling like stars, hidden lighting in the vaulted ceiling and uplighters set into the staircases throughout the building.
Linley Developments commissioned new stone parapets and windows, and underfloor heating was installed throughout. Trevor’s clients wanted a first floor mezzanine, but the ornate roof trusses – which could not be removed – meant that head height would not be adequate, Trevor therefore dug out all the original floor.
He also supplied beautiful oak arched doors and magnificent ornate oak staircases. The stained glass window on the front elevation was left in place, then Linleys made three new window openings beneath the original stained glass arch windows to match the existing. They also put in extra windows in the side elevation with stone arches and stained glass whilst repairing all the parapets and stone columns. The client’s daughter Carmen, described her home as a sanctuary, she said: “ When you walk in, you get a wonderfully calm and warm feeling and when the light floods in through the stained glass window it feels very special.”
Trevor said: “It’s excellent to be given a free rein with a project and it was a fantastic job for us. Linley Developments is delighted with the result.
“From start to finish, this was quite a lengthy job, especially as we had to more or less start from scratch – the building had no heating, no electricity, no gas, no floors and no insulation either. The fact that we also had to restore all the original features, meant that we had to prepare for the work to take longer than if we’d built a new house. Added to this, the sheer scale of the property meant that everything was pretty much on an industrial scale!”
Trevor had never thought about entering any of his projects into the Master Builder of the Year Awards. But this conversion was so unusual that it became quite a local talking point, he encouraged his clients to enter after receiving so many positive comments from visitors to the church as work progressed.
Trevor said: “Initially we didn’t think we’d win but after the response and feedback we had from people we started to think we might be in with a chance.
The entry procedure didn’t take all that long, actually, it was one of these last minute things - I think we got the entry in only just before the deadline.
Winning the award has certainly made a difference to Linley Developments though – we’ve been featured in our local monthly magazine ‘Hertfordshire Life’ and the local newspapers, it’s a great talking point with clients and brilliant PR so much so, that we are now working on a Victorian conversion and extension in St. Albans which we intend to enter into the 2008 Master Builder of the Year Awards.
Positive effect on business
“We’ve certainly noticed a swift upturn in enquiries since winning the award. We could have reacted quickly and employed more staff to cope with extra demand, but instead, we have made the decision to maintain steady growth of our business to retain the quality we are known for. Most new clients seem to be happy to wait a while for us to start jobs, as long as they are booked in.
“Our overall future plans for our business haven’t changed radically, we are going to stay with what we know best, so apart from having more enquiries to work on listed buildings, we will stick with the residential build and renovations, and one off house builds.
“When we do resoration work though, it’s great to feel that we play a part in the transformation of these old properties from derelict buildings into stunning, individual and unique homes.”
Sponsored again by Nissan, the search for the 2008 Master Builder of the Year award-winning builders is underway already, and will culminate in a glittering awards ceremony in London in November.
The overall winner, the Master Builder of the Year 2008 will win the Nissan LCV of their choice worth up to £20,000.
The 2007 Master Builder of the Year Award, Medium Renovation Project category was sponsored by British Gypsum and Travis Perkins
A happy ending
When Trevor worked on this award winning project, he met and fell in love with the daughter of the Redondo household. He and Carmen now have a beautiful little boy and are planning to get married at the end of this year. Not only that, Carmen and Trevor both now work for Linley Developments. Quite appropriate then, that the restoration of this derelict church brought about a ‘match made in heaven!”