Stunning South West house renovation crowned overall Master Builder winner

An extraordinary renovation of a Grade II* listed part-medieval hall in South Gloucestershire, once owned by Henry V’s standard bearer at the Battle of Agincourt, has been crowned the overall Master Builder winner at this year’s Federation of Master Builders’ National Master Builder Awards. The team also won the Large Renovation Project Award for the build.

Wiltshire-based Stonewood Builders Ltd triumphed at the Master Builder Awards, which were hosted online on September 24th by TV presenter and all-round building enthusiast Nick Knowles.

The awards recognise building excellence, quality craftsmanship, and exceptional customer service, and are run by the Federation of Master Builders, the largest trade association in the UK construction sector which is this year celebrating its 80th anniversary.

Tasked with the challenging restoration of a vast and deteriorating property, parts of which dated back as far as the 12th century, Stonewood Builders Ltd demonstrated expert craftmanship and a deft touch in preserving the property’s historic attributes, while upgrading the property to modern standards.

The range of heritage techniques harnessed to deliver the project, including lime plastering and strapwork ceiling installations, stunned the judges, who praised the superb quality of finish and an “outstanding” result for the “delighted” customer. “We now live in a beautiful home that is steeped in history, but a hundred percent adapted to modern family living”, said the client.

Stonewood Builders had to overcome many and varied problems to deliver this build. Insensitive 1970s renovations were stripped back, and period-appropriate features reintroduced and restored. The oak panel staircase in the great hall is a standout feature, as is the 16th century fireplace restored and aged using yoghurt. Original supporting beams in the bedrooms have been repaired, restored and sand-blasted to form beautiful high ceilings above lime-washed stone walls. The insulation that has been added to the walls is just one of the many touches that gives this ancient home a firm eye on the future.

The judges hailed the rare skills displayed by this building company, and the knowledge shown in deciding when to employ them to complete a renovation worthy of royalty.

Reacting to his company’s win, Ben Lang, Chief Operating Officer of Stonewood Group, said: “We feel very privileged to win this award. It feels absolutely outstanding. It was a fabulous project, and the FMB is a wonderful organisation, so we couldn’t be more delighted. The exposure and profile that comes from this is game changing.”

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, hailed the success of the 2021 Master Builder Awards, and congratulated Stonewood Building Ltd, saying: “The Master Builder Awards celebrate the pinnacle of the UK building industry, and I’m delighted we have been able to acknowledge outstanding craftsmanship and brilliant tradespeople in year’s competition. These Awards are all the more special as they come after the toughest of 18 months for small builders. Aligning with the FMB’s 80th anniversary, we have a further reason to celebrate.”

Berry added: “Stonewood Builders’ medieval hall renovation demonstrates what the UK’s builders do best. It is a beautiful, clever build, that has preserved a bit of history and created a comfortable home. The range of skills and trades displayed, and the quality of the work and customer service, was phenomenal. This is what being a Master Builder is all about.”

George Wallis, Head of Marketing at Isuzu UK, who provided a new pick-up truck worth over £37,000 to the winner, said: “This project won Master Builder of the Year because of the quality of the build, and the sympathetic nature of the development, combined with the amazing craft skills to deliver. What a stunning outcome at the end.”

Jan Etchells, FMB National President, and National Judge for this Overall Master Builder category, said: “It’s an exemplary project. I think that they have married the requirements of 21st Century living perfectly with being in keeping with the actual age of this Grade II listed medieval hall.”