Professional Builder talks to Master Builder Award winners Build My Home

Professional Builder talks to Master Builder Award winners Build My Home

In the second instalment of our focus on the regional FMB Master Builder Awards winners we visit a south coast contractor that’s delivering dream homes for its clients.

This month will see the return of the FMB Master Builder Awards and amongst the hopefuls will be Brighton and Hove-based Build My Home. The Sussex firm entered the race for the national prize having triumphed in the House Builder category at the FMB’s Southern Counties Master Builder Awards. Already no stranger to winning industry accolades, Build My Home previously garnered the prestigious Heavenly Builder prize at the trade association’s 2019 event.

LtoR) Build My Home Director, Michael Ford and Senior Site Manager, Dennis Kroese

Company Director, Michael Ford and Senior Site Manager, Dennis Kroese are equally well versed in completing premium projects and we caught up with the pair at what, on completion, will be a palatial six-bedroom property with commanding views across the South Downs and the sea.

Experienced carpenter and project manager, Michael Ford set up Build My Home back in 2013 with the help of his father, and fellow Director, John. “Our target market is high-end residential and that can be new build or renovation”, explains the 41-year-old. “One off bespoke properties are a good size for us, and we typically have three or four projects on the go at any one time, most of which is sourced through architects we’ve worked with regularly over many years and who value our attention to detail.”

The winning build

The plot on which the winning build would ultimately occupy started life as an unprepossessing row of eight garages, situated behind  a Georgian townhouse in Brighton City Centre. There was planning permission for a single-storey dwelling on the same footprint, but the client bought the property with the intention of excavating underground and adding a second level. What was a major exercise in digging was complicated by two protected elm trees flanking the site, and a wall of historic interest to the rear – which had to be underpinned.

A before shot of the winning build

The Build My Home team made use of a self-healing Sika membrane for the exterior of the basement with 300mm of reinforced and waterproof concrete that would then accommodate three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a central staircase to the floor above. The property’s energy needs are primarily serviced by an air source heat pump.

Above the basement sits a block and beam floor, whilst floor to ceiling windows and glass partitions add a contemporary feel. The maintenance-free longevity of Millboard Composite Cladding provides a timber effect, complemented by a living roof that blends with the surrounding gardens.

“We started in April of 2021 and had to contend with Covid issues throughout the build schedule,” Michael recalls. “Huge fluctuations in materials prices and an unpredictable supply of labour were definitely challenging. We had to wait an age for the glass, for example, whilst timber and plaster were problematic. The city centre location meant that all of the surrounding homes were occupied by people working from home, so we had to make sure we were respectful and considerate to the local community, whilst at the same time operating a 20-tonne digger for the excavation.”

The finished build

“Being a carpenter by trade I try to build in timber frame where we can because the speed and sustainability credentials can’t be beaten,” continues Michael. “The award-winning project in Brighton and our current job both make use of that building method.” The latter, South Downs build is also a testament to the skill and experience of the Build My Home team. It represents the extensive remodelling of a bungalow to add two further floors, with a swimming pool and palm room at the rear. The substantial improvement works have also had to be undertaken whilst protecting expensive parquet floor finishes and decorative features that the homeowner had installed during the pandemic: “Our clients will invariably command substantial budgets and they demand high-quality. This house will include features such as a suspended log burner in the main bedroom, for instance, and decorative cork cladding on the exterior, so you can often be dealing with materials that are new to you.”

We asked Michael what FMB membership means for him and his company? “We’ve been members since we started trading as Build My Home and I do value the professionalism that comes with being associated with a leading industry body. My dad [John Ford] is on the board for the southern region and, whether it’s in that context, or at the award ceremonies, meeting other builders does make you feel part of a community, because we’re all faced with the same issues. It feels like someone’s got your back and is representing your interests. We’re fully in favour of the campaigns they run on encouraging more SME housebuilding, for example, as well as on training and mental health.”

“The Master Builder Awards are also a great opportunity to recognise the quality work that’s out there, and it’s a great story for us to tell on social media and through our website.”

For further information on the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) visit Homepage | FMB, Federation of Master Builders.
For further information on Build My Home visit Building Services in Brighton, East Sussex | Build My Home (

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