Our Carbon Mission

Assessing our carbon footprint & our ambition


Bespoke Land Carbon offset

Above: The first 100 Acorns planted

Our Carbon Awakening


I’m embarrassed to say, it took my 8 year old son Max to ask me, following us watching Sir David Attenborough’s Life On Our Planet “ hey Dad, what do you all at Bespoke do to reduce your impact?” to make me realise that shamefully, our answer was….. Pretty much nothing Max. I subsequently raised this, during a lockdown management Teams call and it was agreed, we needed change! We set about analysing our Carbon Footprint, which consists of two main areas, our office-based workforce, and our construction sites.

Creating a Carbon Neutral Workforce & Construction Site


Our Ambition

We have established, that we need to plant 660 trees per year to ensure our office-based workforce is climate neutral. When considering our standard, average building methods, we need to plant 650 trees for every square foot of residential house we build. We will need to plant circa 28,000 trees during 2021 to meet our goal. The above is a huge undertaking for us as a business or indeed any business. Ambitious you say? Yes, but we are more than up for the challenge!

We are now investing a small amount of our company profits into the purchase of a polytunnel, which will give the capacity to plant 10,000 seeds at any one time, along with part time help to make this achievable. Once we have our saplings ready for planting, we will be on the hunt regionally to find safe, long term, sustainable locations to plant.


Bespoke Land Seedlings

Above: The first Seedlings

Pay 0% VAT on your New Build Home

There is no doubt that building your dream home can be an expensive undertaking, and you always want the process to be as cost efficient as possible. With our long experience of new build projects, we know exactly where and how savings can be made – and we have found that the current VAT rate of 0% for residential new build properties is a hugely beneficial saving for our clients.

The government introduced the 0% rate as a way to encourage more self build homes in the UK. It is a great incentive to act now to turn your dream into a reality, as that VAT saving can be re-invested into the project and help your budget stretch that little bit further. The VAT reclaim is valid so long as the property you are building meets the criteria for a new dwelling, and is to be a principle private residence – new build properties that will be used for business purposes are not eligible.

While not quite as generous as for new builds, significant VAT savings can also be made on barn conversions. VAT can be charged at a rate of 5% so long as the correct certificates are raised. As with new build homes, we are very familiar with the process, and are able to help our barn conversion clients deal with HMRC to arrange this saving for them.

If you are considering embarking on a new build project and would like to know more about the possible savings and efficiencies that can be made throughout the process, give us a call on 0117 924 8335 and we will be happy to discuss how we can help you.

10 Steps to Building The Dream

  1. 1. Hunting for a Plot

Guys, you need to think like and act like a developer, even if you are not! You need to be quick, decisive and act fast, because if you do not someone else will. Anything worth having and pursuing will always move quickly. Search rightmove, Zoopla, local auction houses and the web broadly. Remember to try you best to not be too specific as you will limit your options.

  1. 2. Secure a Loan

There are many lenders out there and that specialise in Self Build loans. As a Bespoke client will can help organise this and make the relevant and correct introductions.

Check out this introduction to self build mortgages here.

  1. 3. Budget and Being Realistic

Set yourselves a sensible budget and allow yourselves at least a 10% contingency. When building a new build, most of your risk will be in the ground and once out of the ground your financial risk will be  minimise so long as you do not change your mind too much and deviate from the set scope if works.

  1. 4. A Decent Architect

We specialise in high-end residential Design and Build homes so we can and will manage the entire process in house, literally handing you a set of front door keys upon completion. We do not charge the earth for this service and love to keep it all in house, this way we can keep a grasp of the design and make sure that the proposal suits your needs and requirements and also is designed in a way that is well thought out and has complete innovation.

  1. 5. Planning Permission

This, I believe is always best left with a specialist, we work hand in hand with planning consultants or architects who can move this forward properly, reducing the planning application duration and costs to you the client.

  1. 6. Starting your Construction

Works begins according to the pre-agreed start date and timetable. Most of our builds progress through the following key milestones:

  • DPC – DPC is complete and blockwork can start
  • Joists – The floor is ready to go on
  • Wallplate – The roof is ready to go on.
  • Roof – Roof and walls are on and watertight.
  • 1st Fix – Boarding and Plastering can start.
  • 2nd Fix – All items are fitted and operational
  • Practical Completion – Decorating and external package are completed, ready to hand over.

In the final stages, our interior designer can be brought in (or a client’s own designer can come in), to put in soft furnishings, curtains, lighting; all the crucial elements that make a house a comfortable home

  1. 7. Love your Home!

The time has come and you are able to move in and fall in love with your home, the place where you will make memories for years to come and enjoy the important things in life. So little people are lucky enough to enjoy this special time as you have now designed and built your own unique home. A one of a kind reflect of you and your character.

Daniel’s AGA Experience with Twyfords Aga

So, being the 21st Century man that I am, I recently attended a half day cookery course in Leominster, courtesy of Twyfords AGA, nudged forward by my love forcooking andconstruction (and of course, my dear wife wanting to see an improvement with my home cooking).

I was invited and greeted by the lovely  Elley with a large cup of tea, a full English breakfast and a friendly smile. We cooked many dishes, pies, and cakes and discussed AGAs all afternoon.

The primary reason for the session for me was to gain experience with the AGA- at Bespoke, we’ve installed many AGAs for clients over the years when constructing new-build residential homes and I wanted to get to grips with this iconic cooker for myself. I wanted to hear everything I could and discover the unbiased, truthful facts myself so that when clients ask me about installing an AGA, I can give them an informed opinion and guide them in the best possible way.

Whilst relatively expensive in comparison with a conventional cooker,the British designed AGA is built using cast iron and very few components. This means the life expectancy of an AGA is much longer than a standard oven – there are even stories of AGA cookers lasting 50 plus years!

Having spent a very enjoyable day at Twyfords, I must say I love the robust and dominant look of this hot box within the kitchen. AGAs are also good for heating the room and some models also have a flow & return heating system connected, removing the need for an independent boiler.

For people with a hectic lifestyle, it’s also really easy to make speedy food for the family, as it’s always hot and switched on, and therefore ready to go instantly.

On the down side, within a well-insulated new build in the summer time, AGAs do still kick out the heat, so the building will inevitably become uncomfortably hot. Many AGA owners deal with this by having an independent cooker which is used in the summer, or indeed an AGA side modular, which essentially is an electric cooker. Having either of these additions in your kitchen will enable you to turn the AGA off in the hotter months, giving you the best of both worlds and removing the problem. In fact, AGA has recently developed the new generation of AGA cookers in the form of Dual control and Total Control models which present the ability to switch off in the summer but still have the hobs ready for cooking when needed. In the case of the Total Control model, you also have the ability to turn on ovens individually.

A warm kitchen in the winter with beautiful hearty food, and a cool house during the summer– sounds pretty perfect to me!

If you’re thinking about embarking on a design and build adventure, please do give us a call or email us. And if you wish to know anymore about AGA cookers, take a look at either of these links: http://www.twyford-cookers.com/ or http://www.agaliving.com/store-locator/where-to-buy-an-aga/aga-bath

Bats, Bats, Bats

Exciting times for us at Bespoke as we have just secured the purchase of a new and very interesting farm site in Chepstow, SW with 6 detached barns.

The site consists of 6 barns which are currently used by a beef farmer. The farmer is retiring and has had local authority planning consent to change the use of the barns into residential. Unfortunately the planning approval was obtained many years ago and due to the age of the application, the consultants reports (ecology & structural) are out of date. Luckily the farmer had a small start on the construction works and has a Certificate of lawfulness which means the planning approval is still valid.

We have appointed our preferred Ecology Consultant who have been to site and have confirmed that they have seen droppings and bat like entrance holes within the random stone work.

The bat that is suspected to be currently residing in one of the Units is the Lesser Horse Shoe Bat.

We now need to undertake a full Bat flight survey and have our appointed consultants what us while we undertake the demolition and soft strip of the site.

This obviously, is a more time consuming process and needs to be handled with great care and attention.

Bats are common issue found within barns ready for conversion and whilst some contractors would be put off by this we understand the process and will follow, complying with Natural England’s Guidelines and the license that we will be granted.

‘A Guide to Barn Conversions’ by Dan Arathoon is now available to buy!

‘A Guide to Barn Conversions’ by Dan Arathoon is now available to buy!

Today is a very proud and special day for me and the Bespoke team because today’s the day we take delivery of my labour of love- myself-published book about barn conversions.

Throughout my career, I’m often asked the same questions: how do you get started with a barn conversion? How do you finance the project? How do you know which barn is a sound investment and how do you budget effectively?I love answering these questions from excited would-be converters, and about a year and a half ago I thought I might try writing down some of the answers..

In my opinion, there’s nothing quite like the prospect of a new barn conversion because you never know what you’re going to get and the challenges and treasure troves you’ll uncover. Where else could you discover an eleven metre piece of timber installed in a main wall, 5 foot above floor level that you have to stoop to walk underneath each time you enter the building – and that the farmer’s grandfather’s grandfather transported from Avonmouth to Bristol by horse and cart? Stories like this form the joy and the beauty of barn conversions and it’s why I love working on them.

Barn conversions are my passion, and it’s one that everyone at Bespoke shares. We want to encourage people to share our enthusiasm, and to help them to turn their dreams into reality.This book is not a manual, it’s not even a how-to guide, because there are so many ways to go about creating your perfect barn. Instead, I like to think of it as a starting point, an ethos, an insight into approaching a project the Bespoke way.

I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by a team with a wealth of experience and expertise – master joiners, project managers, designers, accounts staff, site managers, the list is endless. It’s a diverse team of seasoned professionals, and I’ve drawn on advice from everyone to be able to create this book.

So ‘A Guide to Barn Conversions’is a holistic look at the journey of creating your dream home; it highlights things you need to think about at each stage – choosing your barn, the planning process, financial considerations, and every aspect of the build right up to how to care for your new home once you’ve moved in.

I hope you’ll find it an interesting and encouraging read, and that my passion for this quirky, unique, difficult, exhilarating, charming aspect of the industry will inspire you to get started.

If you want to start building your own dream, you can find the link to order a copy of my book via Amazon here. Happy reading!

Custom Builders before Developers, Every time!

First and foremost, we are high-end custom residential home builders. Yes we do undertake developments and Joint Ventures but our bread and butter is and always will be, us as builders working for discerning clients.

We are not developers striving for margin or building volume and we do not build on a budget.

Our thought process, ethos and core belief system is to build well thought outhomes that are robust, beautiful and tailored to our client’s needs.

We believe this means that buying a home from us can only be a good thing. As we are trained to use the best materials and undertake works in the best way rather than our driver being a commercial margin. I mean, of course we need to make a profit and always try too, but this isn’t the top priority on our mission statement.

We want to build homes we are proud of, homes that make our families proud of us and homes that are enjoyed and loved by the occupiers for years to come.

When developing a small estate or a one off home, we carefully analysis the local area, type of home and demographic to determine what best will suit the needs of the potential buyer. It’s our view that a commercial developer would perhaps consider there margin first.

As our Contracts Director states on a regular basis “we do not cheat”. We insulate well and you can have confidence that right from the foundations, the development has been built properly, we have used the correct materials and will stand by our creation.

You’re Different When Building

Over the years we have built many many, beautiful things for many many different people.

People with all types of characters, some I have known previously and still know now, some we have met and helped with their journey and some friends and some family.

Something that happens to you all, is that you change! You’re different when building!

You’re braver, take risks that ordinary you wouldn’t and you feel free and constantly accomplished and proud. Whilst sometimes inevitably slightly stressed you are excited, bolder, satisfied and feel alive.

This as the contractor is so much more fun and satisfying to deal with opposed to a commercial developer who is tuned in, driven by margin. Some developers are fun, please do not get me wrong when building high-end projects as they always have more freedom with the scope of works, and feel passionate about doing a good job to capture their target market.

I would strongly recommend anyone in undertaking a new build construction or a barn conversion. With the way house prices are constantly rising across the South West and they low interest rates, now is most certainly in my opinion the time to start. You most certainly will end up with a finished project that will be completed under market value so should carry instant equity forward which will put you in good stead going forward for years to come. You also get to design exactly what you want and need, instead of settling for what the local estate agent has to offer.

Check out our other blog with reference to self-build funding and as always pop in to our offices for an impartial chat.

Spring into 2020 with a little Feng Shui

With a little warmer weather and spring in the air, we all tend to feel a little better and more upbeat. The birds are singing the morning chorus and the flowers are budding.

We all seem to without thinking start to spring clean, that overwhelming urge to tidy our homes and gardens, clearing out the winter junk.

So why not, following a few runs to the tip, try taking a few Feng Shui tips from us?

Feng Shui, in basic terms is a Chinese philosophy, harmonising everyone with the surrounding environment. You may think it’s all a bit la-dee-da but I say, anything that could possible aim to help relax you in your busy life is worth a try. Especially when you have three children, 5 and under like I do.

So, make a start by clearing out that clutter and hiding away the items that are on display and not really needed, pop to the local garden centre and pick up a few indoor plants, if something in your house is broken and niggling you….. FIX IT, get a small indoor water feature so you can listen to the calm sound of running water in your home and of course have a good old clean.

All of the above has come from years of conversations with great interior designers that we have had the pleasure of working with. I think that the purpose of this blog really, is to get the mind thinking and to get our clients to take a step back look at their current way of living retrospectively.

Of course, when building a design and build dream home we will always consider interior design types and styles when designing to suit each of our clients individual needs, but it really is, never too late.

A Brief description of Units 2 & 3

Following the great success we had with the disposal of Units 1 (Sycamore Retreat) http://www.bespoke-landsw.co.uk/projects/llandowlais-farm/ we started the conversions of Units 2 & 3, which will be coming to the local market in June 2017.

Unit 2, much like unit 1 is a very large and specious open plan hay barn and has the most beautiful views across the Usk Valley.

Nestled away in the bottom corner of the court yard, my favourite barn on the site sits proudly. The grand look of this barn and its stunning appeal makes it a cracking barn and I’m sure anyone would be proud to live in this grade 2 listed delight.

Unit 2 (still to be named) consists of 4 bedrooms, en-suites, large lounge and large kitchen dinner, along with a playroom. The barn is full of large glazed panels and beautiful local natural stone. Much like Unit 1 this barn will be fitted out to an extremely high specification and our construction team will carefully follow our great architects wonderful and well thought out designs.

You can just imagine a dinner party in this barn and also the odd kid’s party and with the natural stone floors, the mess will be easy to clean up.

Unit 3, a huge linear sheep barn, which boasts a whopping 70 sqm kitchen, 4 bedrooms and quite frankly huge rear garden. With the vaulted ceilings you really do get the sense of space. This grounds have space for around 20 cars.

Much like Unit 1 this barn has a stunning German kitchen and fabulous views across the valley.

All units have the opportunity to discuss the potential chance of purchasing additional land so if you see yourself or children keeping horses or a pony, this may be be the ideal spot for you.

As a company, we really do take great pride in our workmanship and do genuinely only take on projects that we feel passionate about. The entire farm site is evident of this and I’m sure anyone serious about purchasing a barn, will only need to drive passed Sycamore Retreat(the newly completed barn) and will be sold at the gate.

For any enquiries, please call our offices where we will be more than happy to take your call