York Handmade keep it in the family

David Armitage, the chairman of the York Handmade Brick Company, has played a crucial role in helping his daughter Louise Sturdy to win the first-ever Kingspan Potton Dream Home award.

David provided 20,000 bricks from York Handmade’s factory at Alne, near Easingwold, for Louise and husband Simon to build their very own dream home at East Knoyle near Salisbury in Wiltshire.

Simon and Louise Sturdy were presented with the award, together with a prize of £1,000, by Michael Holmes, Editor in Chief of Homebuilding and Renovating magazine, at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.

David Armitage commented: “It has given me huge pleasure to help Louise and Simon win such a prestigious award. We provided 20,000 specially-selected Lindum Blend bricks, which were perfect for what Louise and Simon were trying to achieve. They wanted a traditional look for their new house and Louise had a massive input into its design.

He added: “Louise’s experience of brick-making and the kind of bricks we can produce helped immensely. She knew exactly what she wanted and how to achieve it. Being part of a family of brick-makers certainly helped.”

Louise, who was brought up in Nun Monkton, near York, explained: “The look of the house was paramount because of its unique setting and we took particular care with the brick detail. As Dad has always said to me “The bricks are about 5% of the cost, but 75% of the look.

“Personally, I think new brickwork needs breaking up with interesting details. Dentil work on the chimney and string course, plinth surrounds, pilasters on the south facing elevation, sloping cants on the window sills and traditional chamfered quoins all helped to create a look that blended well with its setting”.

“The brick quoins presented a challenge, as the first three architects I spoke to did not have a clue how to create them out of bricks. It certainly helped to have a father who knew a thing or two about brickwork, and indeed he recommended the wonderful Mike Hammett. Although retired, Mike had designed the original specials booklet for the Brick Development Association, and he understood exactly what I was trying to do. It took eight special bricks in each quoin, which Dad’s special’s department at York Handmade lovingly crafted”.

“Simon and I are delighted to have won this award, and grateful to everyone who helped make it possible. It was a labour of love, and we spent hours poring over the drawings, collecting photographs of buildings which had features that we liked, and then sketching them out paying attention to every detail, especially the brickwork”.

“The planners totally understood that we wanted to replace a very ugly artificial stone house with a much more attractive handmade brick dwelling. The fact that York Handmade Bricks had in place environmental policies that complied with ISO14001 Environmental Standard was a bonus, and helped us to comply with a condition of planning that we incorporated some sound environmental features into the build”.

The Sturdy’s knocked the old house down in March 2008 and moved in just nine months later, in time for Christmas. Speed was of the essence to keep the rental costs of living elsewhere during the build as low as possible. 
They spent £380,000 on the build, funded by the successful sale of their London flat. Their new home has been valued at £850,000.  “The sense of achievement and relief we had when we moved in were equal. It was a relatively smooth process but by the end of it we were exhausted and some of our pictures still have not been hung on the walls”, said Louise.

“The Sturdy’s home illustrates how to recreate all the charm of a traditional style home yet with all the conveniences of modern day living,” said Ieuan Compton, Head of Marketing at Kingspan Potton.

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