My name is Robin Batchelder and I have been involved in the self build or bespoke construction industry for somewhere approaching thirty years. In that time I have worked as a Contractor spending most of the 80's & 90's running my own construction company becoming an NHBC registered builder in the early 1990's, building houses in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. My company also carried out work on a couple of schools, a number of commercial and industrial units, one or two licenced premises and a couple of churches. We carried out the conversion of the most southerly oak framed, true cruck barn in England, originally built in the 1400's, we worked for the Bedford Estates on properties in the Woburn area, extensions to properties in Gayhurst (where Guy Fawkes hid for a while), and carried out some maintenance work to half a dozen apartments in Tenerife. Swimming pools in Northamptonshire, koi carp ponds in Buckinghamshire. Even carrying out specialist remedial work on behalf of the NHBC where other builders had got it wrong!

In May 2001 I joined Buildstore when they were helping clients with material procurement as well as arranging their finance, insurances & structural warranty; since then I have been involved with probably somewhere around 1,000 self build projects at one level or another; sometimes just assisting with the purchase of the plot and helping through the design phase, sometimes full project management right through the build.

In the summer of 2006 I undertook the day to day project management of the National Self Build & Renovation Centre in Swindon on behalf of Buildstore with the support of main board directors and a specialist construction management company. We took on a fourteen year old, completely empty, 6,000 sq m high bay warehouse near the motorway at junction 16, and turned it into the first permanent dedicated self build centre in the UK ... a construction programme of approximately 7 months, a £2,500,000 budget and 240 or so different exhibitors all wanting a level of input. £90,000 of extras were added in during the build and we still opened on time ... (although it was close, I can remember painting at 2am on the day we opened) ... and actually ended up circa £50,000 under budget.

So even on the most complex of builds, the oldest or most unique structures success can be achieved if things are planned and organised in advance, in sufficient detail, and if a sensible budget can be put in place  to make sure the bills can be paid ... the quickest way to lose your builder and the quality control of the project is to not pay them on time.

On site in Oxfordshire

The Self Build is based in Northampton, convenient for any projects in the Northern Home Counties, the East Midlands and East Anglia; however we have an established network of tried, tested & accredited project managers & clerks of works throughout the South of England ... and can help with the pre-build contractual preparation almost anywhere in the UK.

We have contacts in all the professional fields including surveyors, designers, health & safety consultants, architects, architectural technologists, structural engineers, building surveyors and so on.

We work with a limited number of suppliers and manufacturers of structural systems, specialist installations, traditional builders and those specialising in modern methods of construction; so within reason, whatever your project, whatever your issues, we should be able to help you find solutions ... using people we know & trust.