The Self Build in Suffolk

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If you have ever contemplated taking on the task of a self-build shepherd’s hut, read on for inspiration! You’ll be placing your order and reaching for your toolbox in no time!

Glyn’s self-build experience was an adventure, and the outcome is a family-use hut for reading, painting, chilling out, and, they confess, the odd gin and tonic – we approve!

This is Glyn’s self-build story….

We decided on a shepherd’s hut to enjoy the build experience and make full use of our grounds in both summer and winter.

Blackdown are a really friendly team, with good support, design, material quality and instructions, which made it a lot of fun for both of us to build the hut.

About us

My wife Lynsey and I are both retired, and both of us are fairly hands-on and practical. We have two grown up daughters, two grandchildren, two Old English Sheepdogs, three Hebridean sheep, several chickens and runner ducks! 

We have lived in Suffolk for 19 years in a 2* Listed oak timber framed building with 2.5 acres of grounds, dating to the mid-1400s.

Why we decided to get a shepherd’s hut 

Adventures begin when you least expect them to!  It all began last summer, when we spent a week on holiday with the family in the Lake District.  We stayed in a beautiful farmhouse with a shepherd’s hut and enjoyed using it every day.

By the end of the holiday we began saying how useful one would be for us at home.  Having a shepherd’s hut near our coppice would begin to make more use of our land, so, after much ‘discussion’ on the way home we soon began to realise that there are many different types of hut which fulfil different needs!   I was looking for a project for us to do over the winter…so why not combine this project with making a tailor-made hut for ourselves. We realised Blackdown Shepherd Huts could supply a kit and give us the basic design. 

On 1st September 2017 we visited Blackdown at its base in Ilminster, where we met with Alan and the team to see the build process, product quality and clarify our requirements. Everybody was very welcoming and positive; the coffee was good as well!  

We ordered the hut on 11 September and it was delivered as promised on 25 October.

Designing the interior

We began to plan the interior…which involved coffee, chocolate, gin and complex negotiations!

For us the self-build option had several attractions and advantages including:

  • The ability to evolve our own design
  • The challenge of the construction and build together with learning new skills such as understanding electrics, woodburning stove installation and construction  techniques
  • Potential cost savings
  • Access to the site without removing or dismantling several field gates and pergolas as the finished hut would be too wide and/or too tall to pass through.

How we use our self-build hut

The hut is for our own use and the family, located at the far end of our property. Gin and tonics, quiet reading, painting and chilling out, and barbeques.

The bench seats convert to a double bed by dropping the table to form a base although we have not slept in it yet.

The hut has:

  • 2 bench seats
  • Large removable table
  • Small folding table
  • Corner cupboard
  • Wall unit with built in small sink ,tap and 12 volt electric submersible pump
  • Pull out sliding larder cupboard
  • Shelving
  • Morso Squirrel wood burner with double skinned flue, slate hearth and vermiculite fire boards
  • We painted 2 Lloyd loom wicker seats given to us by friends 
  • 12 volt LED ceiling lights
  • 12 volt power sockets
  • External 12 volt coach lights
  • 240 volt hook-up
  • Essential “ It’s Gin o’Clock “doormat
  • Ceiling vents
  • Smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector
  • Kettle for making tea on the stove or BBQ

The 12 volt circuit operates off a leisure battery charged by a roof mounted solar panel system

There is also a 240 volt circuit with power sockets linked through a consumer unit to a caravan hook-up. This was useful for temporary lights and a small heater during the build when it was close enough to a mains circuit at the stables. In the future, we might join the two systems with an inverter. 

We decorated the hut ourselves using Farrow and Ball paint internally and externally, mostly painting before installation. Astonishing how much paint and time it takes…but a few painting parties made light work of it.

We bought the foam seating made to measure and then chose the seating fabric. This was finished off with plain red curtaining. Outside we have a build plate and a nameplate which I carved. The name is TANLAY after a very nice chateau we once visited in Burgundy!

Enjoying the self-build experience

The self-build went very well and the paper instructions and video were extremely helpful and studied every day! The main aim was to get the build to a weather tight stage as quickly as possible. So the wall frames were up the day of delivery! The Red Admiral butterfly landing on the chassis must have been a good omen.

Day two, Lynsey and I fixed the roof formers, lifting them up from inside the wall frames. We used three or four ladders, not scaffold, and have a very useful and stable 12 ft tripod ladder we use for apple picking.

Day three, with needed help from two good friends. we attached the roof membrane then the corrugated roof. The membrane and roof are not a one-man job as the wind can get under the membrane and the roof needs squaring up.  

Day four, I cut the chassis frame for the double door using a circular saw and chisel and repositioned the second frame screw lower down.

Day five, Lynsey and I started to put up the internal roof cladding and insulation, at one end I cut several vents with a hole saw. We cut four holes and ran some 12 volt cable for the four ceiling lights at this stage – my railway modelling electrics came in useful!

We finished the internal roof on 31 October, Lynsey’s birthday, celebrated by her priming the fascia boards, which were a challenge to cut. Our trailer came in very helpful as a work platform.

After that came the membrane, doors, and windows, and we fitted the cladding quickly before it dried out or curved too much. The oak corner posts were cut and fitted, at which stage the external work was completed. The next few days we ran 12 volt and 240 volt wiring in the wall and floor, fitting the electrical hook up and making the battery box and cutting some of the internal cladding.

Painting continued and the oak floor and insulation took two days to cut and fit and by 23 November the internal cladding was complete with electrical socket holes, the floor sealed with two coats of varnish.

A big landmark was when the steps were fitted making it easier to get into the hut. (Weren’t we glad to have bought these from Blackdown!). The electrics were a challenge, but completed by 5 December.

Adding sliding larder, bench seats, and floor boards came next, and final touches included a couple of oak lettering carvings as nameplates. 

For now, the hut is sited on scaffolding planks with 2 milk churns filled with plants and other assorted pots either side of the steps.   A BBQ, two steamers, a table, four chairs and an umbrella are sited nearby.

We decided that an outside loo would be useful so we modified a 4 x 6 ft shed onto a platform with skids and wheels for tow-ability and put in a simple camping chemical toilet.

Why we love our shepherd’s hut

The hut gives us a very nice room at the other end of our property so that we can enjoy a different and slightly elevated view and escape down the garden for some quiet time, painting, reading, BBQ with friends, a tea or G&T.

Brilliant Blackdown!

Delivery was exactly as promised, Rich arrived and we decided to unload outside the house and then tow the self-build through with our small tractor. Customer service was great from the very start from when we went online to view the options, and useful video clips to meeting at Blackdown to go through the options and see the build process. We needed basic drawings to approach the planning authorities which Alan emailed to us.

The excellent self-build instructions and the video were really helpful. During the build, we had a few questions which were clarified the same day.

We recommend Blackdown

We liked the friendly approach, the design quality, the instruction support, the oak cladding, the double door design. Although the self-build option clearly saves some money it is also a lot of fun and a great sense of achievement with many new skills learnt.  


All in the hut cost just under another £6000 almost exactly what we had allowed for the build and stocking the hut…. but we enjoyed the build process including deciding and sourcing the personal extra features above the self-build kit and it provided endless hours of fun in the process.

So, the first part of the adventure has finished…we now look forward to enjoying using our hut with our friends and grandchildren…would we build another one… with Blackdown’s help maybe!! 


Posted on

August 19, 2018