Summer 2021 has been a bit of a varied and fast changing picture. The construction industry kept ticking over all through the lockdowns – but burst back into life in a big way in late spring/early summer 2021. That either coincided with or directly caused a serious drought in materials and resultant spikes in prices. This has been the defining background to the summer – which is traditionally a quiet period in terms of construction starts. For us, we saw the completion of a few projects that had kept us busy over the last 6-8 months: New hotel rooms at Monachyle Mhor, Mavie Mill Cottage and the An Bothan lodge. However, things are really beginning to ramp up now – and our workload is bursting at the seams. The Outlaw lodge has started on-site with a 100 cubic metre concrete pour, the walled garden houses are starting to mobilise for construction access (ie how do we get piling rigs in!) and we are very close to closing the door to any new lodges/bothies/cabins as we have five different schemes now at design stage. However, as is always the case – drop by the Mill for a coffee and a chat if you’ve got an idea!
Spring has sprung and we are fully back at work – we never really stopped but there were so many other, systemic delays across our sector that we thought it would be best to ease off the throttle for a few months as it was all getting pretty frustrating. Anyway – let us hope that is the last of lockdowns and that we can all start implementing those plans that we’ve been hatching for the last 12 months or so – or at least the more positive and less existential plans that may have developed!
What are we up to? We have five large private houses at various stages of construction – one nearly finished, one halfway there, two just starting and one stuck in tender. In terms of our input – the majority of our work should be complete by the time a spade goes into the ground – or that’s the theory at least. Lots of our clients have spent lockdown staring at the inadequacies of their daily living spaces – and are now requesting radical action…so lots of extensions, some big and some small. Lost of reconfigurations, some simple and some extremely complex. We even have a small Turkish bath at the bottom of a garden to figure out.
Other, non-domestic things that we have on at the moment: lots of refurbishment and reconfiguration works for our hospitality sector clients, getting ready for what is looking like a busy season. Two 30 sqM Bothies in the Trossachs – both quite different. One is nearly complete and one is still at the detail design stage. On top of all that we still have our big farmshop project out in deepest, darkest Renfrewshire as well as a new restaurant/café in the unit next door to the office. A busy summer beckons – which suits us well seeing as there’s nowhere we can go on holiday!
So, 2021 is seeing us diversify somewhat. We are doing quite a lot of large one-off houses next year and oddly enough we are also doing quite a lot of small, remote Bothies. We have developed a fair amount of expertise over the years in creating small buildings in scenic and often difficult locations. We are in the process of splitting our business into two separate entities – one for the big stuff and one for the small stuff. We are doing this mostly due to the fact we are beginning to take over large parts of the constructional delivery of the small buildings – not something we’re ever going to do for a £1m private house. So watch this space over the next few weeks and months for details of our new small buildings bureau – in the meantime shown below is our winter 2020/21 project – an off-grid Bothy in a regenerating area of commercial forestry in the Trossachs. We’re trying to develop a truly user friendly and viable off-grid system in conjunction with a variety of partners we have worked with before on bigger off-grid projects. The goal here is to produce a viable tourism sector development that can be reliably off-grid and simply user friendly without a 50 page instruction manual and strictly no composting toilets!