Business profile - Rural and Country
PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 June 2018
Having founded Design and Build Company Rural and Country with friend and business partner Lee Stewart, Mike Lowes explains that it's evolving beyond expectations
ike is rather proud of the business they have built, and looking at what they have created, he has every right to be.
‘We actually started out in the energy industry, designing heat and power plants for the rural and agricultural sectors, as well as entire off-grid systems for rural properties who did not have the luxury of mains electric, he explains. ‘Building oak framed buildings and contemporary glass and steel extensions wasn’t originally part of the business-plan, but working regularly for small developers who needed energy solutions gave us a taste for the construction business.
‘We looked at the market and it seemed to us that no-one was really offering a turnkey option where all aspects of the project were being managed by the same company. The attitude at the time was (and often still is) for the client to be project manager and deal with all the trades, who often hadn’t any experience of working with each other. We therefore set about establishing a business that took that worry and chaos away from the client.’
The business has evolved over the years and the company now completes a great many very contemporary extensions and buildings - lots of cedar cladding and glass facades - as well as oak framing, which can of course be very traditional or über-modern, depending on the home and the homeowner’s wishes.
‘We work on a very wide range of projects,’ Mike explains, ‘from log stores to porches to orangeries to full homes – and we love the challenge of that. The quirkier and more complicated the better!
‘It’s also great to be able to implement Green Energy technologies in our buildings. We are still so far behind countries like Germany that it’s embarrassing. The use of things like heat pumps is becoming more mainstream now - but it’s taken us 15 years to get there!’
Rural & Country aren’t the only homebuilding company that offer oak framing and contemporary buildings of course, but what Mike believes really sets them apart from the bigger, nationally spread businesses, is that turnkey fully-managed approach.
‘The bigger providers of oak framing, for example, often make the structure offsite, then simply drop it off. That’s not our style. With an oak structure our craftsmen bring in the raw oak and then cut and shape it on-site. It’s a very satisfying thing, to see something come together like that. Oak is a marvellous material for buildings, we love working with it; there are 500 year old oak built barns in Cheshire that are still standing strong today.
‘Project managing a build can be quite a complex exercise. There are certainly plenty of plates to spin. Employing our own tradespeople gives us the flexibility to adapt as we need - it is all a lot more controllable if you know who you’re working with. The important thing is that we take on the headaches – not the client!’
It all sounds fabulous, but expensive.
‘We deliver a very high end result, but we certainly aren’t high end when it comes to cost,’ Mike says. ‘It’s all in the design and attention to detail; this is where it starts and ends, and we’re very, very good at that. We hear from people who have shied away from calling us because they see our portfolio and think they can’t afford us – then when we talk, they discover that they can. After all, there is no difference in cost between a good design and a bad one, and attention to detail should be present in any project, regardless of scale or budget.’
0845 643 2233 | ruralandcountry.com