Ian Hunter’s self-build hut story is inspiring, and the building of his new project has been a cathartic and rewarding process. Plus, he says, Blackdown Shepherd Huts are ‘overall not just good – but brilliant’, so he’s deserving of a customer story that shares his journey, which involved battling the Beast of the East during construction!
‘I am 68 and worked in construction all my life. I have two sons in their 30’s, both engineers. I had virtually retired three years ago to working two days a week and looking forward to some relaxing times, have moved home 16 times in my life with my wife Jeanet, whom I was married to for 43 years. When Jeanet died in 2015 I realized I needed to keep very busy to survive the bereavement, so returned to work & sought projects at home to keep my mind busy when not at work.’
Why I Chose a Shepherd Hut
‘I am blessed with two great sons and four delightful grandchildren, two boys and two girls all between age 8 and 3. What has this to do with building a Shepherds hut? Well, the first thought was a place for the grandchildren to play in or accommodate all of them. We also have views from the back garden over open fields that are home to sheep and horses, and needed to take full advantage of this view.
A flexible shell of a hut was needed; a space that can adapt with time, with different facilities, and that can change as the family grow up. Initially, though, I wanted a space for me to sit in all weathers, away from the house, try to relax and admire the great view. We also needed a comfortable space that all the family for sleepovers, but most importantly I needed something that would provide a project that I could plan and deliver with the help of my two sons.
The Blackdown Way
I started some research on buying a shepherd hut. You cannot access my back garden apart from a 4 ft wide path, so a big crane or self-build were the only options. The Blackdown videos impressed me for quality of materials and build ability. Having items like the doors and windows already assembled in their frames was a great advantage. Also, the wall framing assembled in four pieces, the curved roof frame, and parts of the chassis in kit form led me to believe the assembly of the hut was within my skill set.
In July 2017 I sent for a brochure and then contacted Alan at Blackdown for some prices and revisited the videos in detail. From the beginning of my discussions with the team at Blackdown the feeling of a family company, dedicated to producing a quality product and excellent service was obvious. The product is expensive but I believed it is very good value for money, and this was confirmed when I visited the Blackdown workshop in October. It was very clear the team enjoyed their work, had the skills required, and were efficiently organized and managed. I had no hesitation in paying a deposit there and then for SB 191 to be delivered to my home on 28th February 2018.
The Self-Build Process vs The Beast from The East
My youngest son and I booked leave to coincide for a couple of week’s session of “building a shepherd hut”. We did not, however, plan for the arrival of the “Beast from the East” which arrived just two hours after Richard from Blackdown delivered our hut on the agreed day!
We battled to get the chassis, frame, roof, and external cladding installed before they had to return to work. That left me on my own, under a large tarpaulin, to do the external painting and finishings and all the internal wiring, cladding and flooring. As well as many, many evenings priming and painting boarding. It was finally watertight at end of March and the tarpaulin was removed.
Meantime, I also designed and built a veranda in front of the door to sit out on and admire the view, and built it around the apple tree adjacent, appropriately reduced in height with a chain saw to form four small table tops.
The Self-Build Experience
As I said at the beginning – brilliant.
- Delivered on the day agreed
- No variation in price
- Very helpful service and contact with Alan for queries (including tea on visit)
- Quality materials that all fitted well together
- Quantity of materials – just right as long as you planned in advance ie using cut boards for infill’s and not just cut long boards every time. Some spare wall and floorboards.
- Templates very helpful
Thank you Blackdown
I am very pleased I took the decision to build a Blackdown Shepherd Hut. It is a quality product that will last for years and grow with the family. It is a good discussion topic within the family and down at the pub and kept me busy for five months. We will be commencing celebration visits from all around to inspect the hut next week. It has already received very positive feedback from neighbours watching the construction. We are really starting to enjoy it – sitting on the veranda watching the sheep in the adjacent field – doing what it was intended for.