Posted on: 14th October 2016

Carpenter Oak recently gave me the privilege to attend the Build It Awards Ceremony 2016 at the Hilton Bankside on their behalf.  Described as a glitzy affair with a smart dress code I was a little unsure as to what to expect.  Glitzy, smart and the building industry is an unusual mix, at least in my experience.

Carpenter Oak was nominated for Best Oak Frame Home for ‘Hart House’ which I am pleased to say we won for the 3rd consecutive year giving us a nice ‘hat trick’.  Hart House is of contemporary oak glulam construction married with a mixture of traditional jointing and machine dove-tailed connections.

The client, Jim Duffy of Add Architects, plans to promote this as a design concept and Carpenter Oak is currently working with him on a second similar project.

The award for Best Self Build or Renovation Project went to our clients Antony Higham and Darren Findlow for their ‘Characterful Woodland Self Build’.  Antony and Darren were inspired by the home of Carpenter Oaks finance director Lee Manning, Orchard House.

Taking responsibility for the project management, Antony and Darren were supported by Carpenter Oaks network of experienced and dependable contractors.

Both these projects adopted the wrap around SIP’s system installed by Glosfords who were nominated for Best SIP’s home with ‘Hart House’.

I accompanied director Paul Kirkup and head carpenter Don Rigby to add a bit of glamour to their glitz.  Suited and booted is not really Carpenter Oaks style so a glitzy do at the Hilton Bankside is a somewhat nerve wracking affair when it came to the ‘smart’ dress code.  Paul arrived in a smart shirt and tie combination with trousers and shoes borrowed from his son.  Don modelled a new open collar, surf branded, shirt with racing green trousers and freshly washed trainers, a smart casual approach.  I wore my friend’s oversized shoes with tissue in the toes, a dress I’d been gifted and a red carpet worthy hair-do with the help of a ‘sock bun’ and Dons previously undiscovered hairdressing skills.  As you can tell, award ceremonies are not our usual undertaking.

On our arrival we met up with architect Jim Duffy (Add Architects) and Mike Flemming of Glosfords at the networking ceremony before making our way down to the ceremony venue.  Build It’s editor Chris Bates introduced the ceremony with inspiring speech in regard to the Custom Build Strategy, he was followed by Stella Clarke, Chair of the Community Self Build Agency.  The agency is a charity helping people in housing need to design and build their own homes and communities alongside learning the skills to complete the project.

The evening was hosted by comedian Tim Vine who had endless one-liners, even about chimneys, which meant the time ‘flu’ by (his joke, not mine).  He also had a ‘pen behind the ear trick’ to fill any gaps.

I was slightly disappointed that there were no A-list celebrities presenting the awards but there were the friendly faces of the Build It team and their sponsors.

The meal was stunning, a pleasant surprise for us  Carpenter Oak veggies, used to dining out on a diet of cheesy tomato pasta, of which non was in sight.  I shall later be googling recipes for cauliflower and caraway pakoras, they were particularly delicious.

Our award came relatively late in the evening at which point I was madly tweeting, face-booking and posting on Instagram.  Not an easy task when using a shattered phone, on 10% battery after a few glasses of red.  I succeeded in getting most online ‘hot of the press’ and posted a few more from our Airbnb room for good measure.

It was difficult to sleep, an unusual and exciting night playing through my mind along with Tim Vines one-liners.  I gazed at the patterns making their way across the ceiling with passing cars and trains, the sound of which eventually lulled me to sleep with their rhythmic rumblings.

In the morning I was straight on the laptop to write an article for the website before walking across London to take in a few sights on the way to Paddington.  The cosmopolitan lifestyle has been fun but I’ll be glad to get back to the Carpenter Oak family in Devon to show off the awards and breathe fresh air and sawdust.