Montrose firm crowned UK’s overall Master Builder
Montrose building firm MCK Construction Ltd has beaten hundreds of builders across the UK to scoop the overall Master Builder award in the prestigious Federation of Master Builders’ (FMB) Master Builder Awards 2019.
Designed to celebrate the nation’s best builders, the awards were presented in front of a packed audience at a ceremony in London.
The Master Builder accolade is the highest award given, making the Angus firm the nation’s best builders.
TV presenter and building enthusiast, Nick Knowles, handed the accolade to the company for its work carried out on the old coastguard lookout tower in the small fishing village of Usan, which also won the Large Renovation category at the national ceremony.
Built on an exposed part of the North Sea coast, the Usan coastguard tower was formerly a lookout post and housed the local rocket rescue equipment. Around 60 years ago, the tower was abandoned and by the end of the 20th century, it was in a poor state of repair and the former lookout balcony had largely rotted away.
It was purchased by a local fisherman, who had grown up in the small fishing village, and his wife. Unhappy at seeing an important focal point in the local community going to rack and ruin, he decided to convert it into a family home by having the tower renovated and the building extended.
The clients were keen to see the tower saved and the building extended to form a novel family home offering wonderful panoramic views out over the North Sea. Externally, the existing tower has the original Welsh slated roof with a lead finial and, being so close to the sea, the stonework had to be repointed and given a general makeover.
At the rear, a set of grand stone steps, the entrance to the original lookout post now lead to the master bedroom and make an unusual addition to the property. The new build extension itself consists of a timber frame structure with large gable glazing, maintenance-free cement cladding, zinc standing seam roof covering and rainwater goods.
The joint between the new roof covering and the old stonework ensures that the distinction can be easily made between old and new.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The Master Builder award is the highest honour bestowed upon hundreds of nominees and MCK Construction are worthy winners. Saving a derelict coastguard tower built over 100 years ago and turning it into a family home is no mean feat.
“The builder’s skills and attention to detail enabled the delivery of the refurbishment to the tower and the addition of a stunning modern extension. In short, the high-profile architect’s vision was turned into reality by the builder. The team should feel very proud and, in turn, we at the FMB are extremely proud of them.”
Also on the night, Kingussie-based Spey Building & Joinery scooped the award for the best New Home for its first-class work on the stunning Lochside House.
This remote home, nestled in an isolated waterside spot, is designed for the self-sufficient as it is entirely off-grid. While using 21st century technology to power the home, Lochside House is also simply beautiful in design and built with local materials to complement the raw beauty of the surrounding landscape.
Producing a genuinely ground-breaking building is no mean feat and requires close co-operation from everyone involved. The judges were particularly impressed by the team’s working relationship with the client: “It’s clear the team at Spey Building & Joinery embraced the challenge of working in this remote location. Lengthy site meetings with the client and the architect ensured all key parties were fully involved, so any modifications were agreed and understood, and construction and site issues were pre-empted.”
The location provided some hefty challenges: simply getting the materials to site was tricky, especially during periods of wild Scottish weather, but the team from Spey Building and Joinery rose to the task with a dedication that was appreciated by everyone involved.
Project architect Tom Miller outlined what was achieved: “To build a good, energy-efficient house here wasn’t straightforward.
“It was only possible because we had a client with the uncompromising determination and vision to keep pushing us to achieve our best, and a contractor’s team for whom we have enormous respect – they seemed to thrive on the unique challenges posed by building on such an exposed and inaccessible site.
“The fact that it was such a pleasure to work on is testament to the dedication of everyone who contributed. Our thanks go to the whole team.”
Brian Berry added: “The pictures do not do justice to this incredible new build home. The lengths the team at Spey Building & Joinery went to, from practical transportation to necessary collaboration, should be applauded. The firm embodies what it means to be a Master Builder and the proof is in the product. It’s a well-deserved win for Spey Building & Joinery.”