Ian Hunter is one of our Self Build Superstars… and in this blog we’re going to find out about him, his hut, why he chose Blackdown Shepherd Huts… and SO much more! It’s a good one…
When Ian came to us, he was looking for a challenge. He had been involved in construction since graduating as a civil engineer in 1972, so his hut couldn’t just be any hut! Add to that, that he was planning to build his hut with his two sons, also engineers, and the scene was set! He had the perfect spot for his hut in his back garden overlooking the Chiltern Hills, and felt a hut would allow him to appreciate the view, enjoy drinks with friends, and give the grandchildren a playroom…
What first attracted you to Blackdown?
At first, I researched on the internet and watched the videos from Blackdown. I was impressed with quality and construction methods – all appeared straightforward. I needed self build because you could not get a hut down the side of the house to the back garden, and I also wanted the challenge of building one.
Why did you decide on a Blackdown Hut rather than another hut?
I sent Alan a specification and photos to get a budget price. It was more expensive compared to the competition. However, I am more interested in quality and value for money rather than least cost, so I visited Blackdown. Even going to the shepherd hut style loo after a long drive confirmed to me the quality of the product. I went around the workshops with Alan and spoke to some of the team – the very high standards of materials, labour, and clean efficient workshop really appealed to me. I paid the deposit without a second thought – confirmed the shepherd’s hut spec with Alan and set an unmoveable delivery date – as my two boys and myself needed to take same holidays from work to build it.
You went for self build rather than turnkey – why was this?
As above, I wanted the challenge of self build, to spend some quality time with my sons (without too many family distractions from the grandchildren), and to give them an experience they would remember. I bought all the necessary tools, scaffolds, etc. early and set out the base on the ground and cast the concrete plinths under the wheel positions before the hut arrived. Alan very helpfully confirmed the wheel dimensions and weight of hut. He also advised on some materials used by Blackdown but not supplied as part of self build such as (paint, floor lacquer etc.) that we could use if we wanted the same result.
How did you find the support of the team during your self build? How did you find the building process?
Alan was excellent in taking enquires and answering them – he also makes a mean cup of tea. Delivery on the agreed date was essential for this plan to work – the 28th February – it was delivered on that day at 9.30am by Richard, and after a bacon butty was unloaded by 11.30am. At 12.30 the “beast from the east struck “ and Richard only just got back to base. We started construction despite the weather. Two weeks of hard graft in cold weather – pub every evening (50 yds up road) for a full hot meal and a drink or two as thanks for the boys’ hard graft. We just about got the hut watertight with all the structure, roof, cladding doors and windows complete. That left me to finish all the interior, electrics, cladding and flooring and loads and loads of painting of boards
What did you originally purchase your hut for? Have you continued to use it like this?
A challenge, time with the boys, play hut for the grandchildren and place to chill out for me and look at the views. I see this as a rolling project. No stove yet (with young kids) no beds until they grow up a little (but I can build them in) and a retreat for me. I’m interested in clocks and planes, so kitted it out with this in mind with, WW1 propeller with Victorian clock inserted. My hut could be a study too (if I ever retire from work) and it’s definitely an investment. The total cost was £20K for everything and I believe it could add up to £30k on value of the house – not that I intend to sell it. It’s also something to be really proud off!
What’s your favourite thing about your hut?
Everything! The oak frame, cast iron wheels, oak cladding and floor, solid interior, high quality doors and windows. It is comfortable, cosy and warm even in the depths of winter.
Do you have any tips for self builders that you’d like to share?
A programmable oil filled electric radiator ( 1.8Kw ) works well, dimmable internal up and down lighters, and warm external dimmable lights. I get more comments on this from neighbours than anything – it looks so inviting and cosy at night