Robert Somerville  Building Projects

About Us

High quality work, done on time and on budget

We have an excellent track record of completing complex projects on time and on budget, with a quality of work which we hope exceeds the clients expectations. This is achieved through our close teamwork, drawing on everyone’s strengths and integrity, and by working with our clients to fully understand their priorities.

Robert Somerville has 25 years experience of successfully negotiating with local authority planners, including national parks and historic building departments, to secure the best possible results for his clients. This experience also includes project management, which is a vital and often unrecognised part of a successful building project. This means bringing the right people together to ensure the best design, the most suitable materials and the smooth running of activities on site.

Every major project has an experienced site manager who is on the site full time.  The site manager liaises with the owners, building control inspectors, and with the craftsmen on site, and solves snags and problems as they occur.

Robert brings with him a team of great craftsmen.  Good craftsmen are rarely short of work: they choose to work with Robert because they know and trust him.  They are paid a fair hourly rate, so there’s no motivation for them to cut corners or reduce quality.

Projects usually involve the use of local materials, and the team has a balance of craftspeople, tradesmen and young local labourers.  This helps preserve and pass on the local craft traditions.  The enthusiasm that the build team generates for the project is infectious, and helps us deliver high levels of customer satisfaction, for both the build process and the finished project.

Enjoy your building project

A big building project is a big challenge, and can become a source of stress and frustration.  We help our clients enjoy their projects.

You can be involved exactly as much as you want to be.  Some clients want to be very hands-on, and other prefer to step back.  Both approaches are fine with us.  We will make sure you are always informed of our progress.

Our project

Robert and his wife Lydia built their own eco-house, and are now building a timber-framed barn using traditional Hertfordshire elm.

Don’t worry about making changes.

We accept that owners are likely to want to change from the original plans during the course of a project.   We understand that things that look good on paper might not feel right as part of your building as the work proceeds.

If this happens we’ll work with you to find the best way forward: we won’t use changes as an opportunity to inflate your costs, but we will review all the implications with you.

Cost-effective project management

The projects we work on are not cheap, so we make them as cost-effective as possible.  Our experience means our site programme is the simplest and cheapest way to implement the project.

We minimise the use of sub-contractors, each adding their own percentage.  Instead we work directly with craftsmen we know.  Many of them are not VAT registered, which can mean a significant cost reduction on a craft-based project.

Building with the environment in mind

Respect for nature is central to everything we do.  Our designs are energy-efficient, so you can reduce your carbon footprint. They preserve the character of existing buildings, and the way the design fits into the local landscape, whilst enhancing habitats for wildlife.

We use traditional local materials, including timber from local woods.  We can identify suitable trees, and arranged for them to be felled then sawn on-site.

Robert’s background and experience

Robert graduated from Cambridge University in 1984 with a degree in Architecture. Inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, he spent the first ten years of his career working on-site to learn the trades first hand. His projects form part of the revival of the traditional crafts particularly the use of lime, cob, and heavy timber framing. He has worked on projects in London, Devon and East Anglia.

Next steps

Whether you are looking for a design and planning permission to pass on to your own contractors, or for a start-to-finish service of design and build, then please do contact us.   If the project sounds viable we are happy to meet for a longer discussion to talk things through in detail.