Building in curves, with untraditional materials up a steep hill side during a recession was a rather more difficult task than we first anticipated. The Stonehouses were in planning for over 3 years and took over 2 years to build. But here we are at the end of the journey and I hope that you feel as we do, that the result is something special.
We returned to our native North of Scotland with our 3 children in 2005 after 14 years living overseas, mostly in East Africa. During our time in Africa we came across unique purpose built holiday retreats in unique locations – National Parks, Beaches, even on mountain sides. Many were inspired by local building techniques and nature and merged with and were in tune with the local environment. These unique lodges were our initial inspiration for the Stonehouses. We are now firmly settled in the North West Highlands, an area which we feel passionately connected with.
We have joined a small band of Highland Scottish tourism innovators who want to develop unique retreats that offer something different and inspiring. The holiday experience is as much about being within these buildings as it is about the local area.
Gavin also runs a specialist trekking company called Nomadic Skies that builds from his 30 years of development experience working in Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia. Nomadic Skies organises small group trekking journeys to remote Tibetan Nepal, Southern Armenia and the Virunga of SW Uganda focusing on off-the-beaten-track locations in stunning corners of the world and involving linking to local hill and mountain communities to explore not only nature but remote and unique cultures. See www.nomadicskies.com
We have a number of people to thank for helping us to realise our dream:
THE ARTISANS AND CRAFTSPEOPLE WHO ROSE TO THE CHALLENGE OF THE UNCONVENTIONAL SITE AND BUILDING DESIGN:
Martin Urquhart and Steven Bellshaw : Ground, road works, foundations and landscaping
Should diggers and dumpers really do that…at that angle?
William Hawkins, Andy Whisken & Lawrence Glass : Drystone Walling & Paving
Even on the wettest days, in the deepest mud and in the face of William’s wide ranging philosophising they kept their and our spirits up and rose to every challenge.
Don Sutherland and Simon Fraser : Joiners and Eminent Craftsmen
In a construction world increasingly adopting kits and staple together houses they saved our project with their perseverance and craftsmanship. They went where most joiners feared to go!
for the repeated use of their 4WD forklift with Alan in control. We never knew that a forklift could do wheelies!
Jethro Brudenell : Joiner
Don and Simon’s local and invaluable support. He pretends to dislike wood, but we know otherwise.
Aaron Forsyth and Richy : Roofing
Aaron, a perfectionist who claims to prefer traditional roof structures (“they were designed like that for a reason”). Richy, an occasional resident who always looked on the bright side. Together they pulled it off (and we know they will not have to put it back on again).
Hamish Macdonald : Plumbing & Heating
He rose to the challenge of the unconventional heating system, difficult site, the owners’ procrastination in choosing plumbing fittings with a smile and numerous bad taste jokes.
Hugh Mackenzie & Daniel Farquhar : Electrics & Lighting
They provided the light at the end of a long dark tunnel – even if they were requested to be positioned at a different place than on the plans!
Dougie Sinclair & Raymond : Plastering, Painting & Tiling
Optimism and diligence amid a cloud of plaster dust. The best West Highland and Hungarian collaboration in the business.
Stuart Bagshaw and Alan Brown : Architects
Creativity and vision.
Gavin & Rachel Anderson : Project Managers & General Skivvies
A huge learning curve – so steep we were left clinging on by our fingernails. Kevin McLeod eat your heart out – you could have had a whole season of programmes out of our one project if we were not so camera shy.
Bob Still, Ignite Your Brand : Brand and graphic designers
A fantastic website and invaluable creative support. The whole family even tested out the house to search for unseen glitches.
The residents of Ullapool, neighbours and visitors:
We did not have one person complaining or opposing our plans. In fact, we had nothing but support and positive encouragement from everyone we spoke to or visited us during the protracted build. It meant a lot.