Category Archives: News

Commercial Building Builder Suffolk – Seamans Building provides professional domestic and commercial builds, renovations and extensions throughout East Anglia

Pre-construction phase ‘sets the tone for the rest of the project’, says Seamans’ Director

Seamans’ Pre-construction Director Mark Reason plays a pivotal role in every project the company bids for and wins.

With 20 years’ experience in the sector and having progressed from a management trainee to pre-construction manager, Mark joined Seamans Building in May 2021 to head up its pre-construction department before joining the board of directors in September 2023.

“My role is broad and encompasses all of our work-winning activities,” he said. “That ranges from producing the financial aspect of a bid, writing responses to quality questions, overseeing our marketing strategy and ensuring we have a healthy tender pipeline.

“When deciding whether to tender for a project, we carefully consider whether we are the right fit for the scheme and vice versa and, importantly, whether we have capacity to deliver it and the right skillset to make the project a success.

“We also have to review any quality aspects of a bid and how we can add value in respect of our social and environmental obligations as a responsible contractor.”

Joining Seamans Building gave Mark the opportunity work alongside his father Steven, who worked at Seamans for more than 30 years before retiring in early 2022.

“Like a lot of people here at Seamans, I grew up in construction,” he said. “It’s a very family-orientated company.”

Mark said as each bid is unique, he gets to work on a huge variety of fascinating projects.

“We have worked hard to develop our tendering strategy, incorporating new software and systems,” he said.

“The variety of work we price makes each tender unique.

“One day we can be pricing the renovation of a listed property, building up rates for completing the work with our directly employed craftspeople, and the next pricing a commercial project with the assistance of our dedicated supply chain.

“Our objective is for our bids to be well considered and inclusive.

“Consistency has always been really important to me and I’m very conscious that how we conduct ourselves during the pre-construction stage sets the tone for the rest of the project, so we need to be responsive, and do what we say we’re going to do.

“In the three years since joining the company, we’ve had some really positive success stories including securing a place on the Suffolk County Council Construction Framework and reestablishing ourselves in the commercial market whilst maintaining our strong presence in the new build private residential and social housing sectors.

“In addition to this I’m privileged to sit on the SJCC committee which, along with the implementation of a management trainee programme within Seamans, provides a platform to work with education providers to attract more young people into the industry.”

For more on Seamans Buildings and our projects, see here.

New vets practice opens its doors in Felixstowe

Seamans Building is proud to have handed over the keys to a brand new, purpose-built veterinary practice in Felixstowe.

Ryder-Davies and Partners have moved into the new state-of-the-art facility, in Garrison Lane, opening their doors to clients on Monday, March 18.

The new practice features a surgical suite, a range of consulting and diagnosis rooms, high-tech imaging facilities as well as a dental theatre, on-site laboratory and plenty of parking.

Alison Wilkins, Business Manager at Ryder-Davies and Partners, said: “It’s a very exciting time for us.

“To have a bespoke veterinary practice furnished with brand new equipment will be fantastic for our clients.”

Partner Dr Joe Steventon added: “This new building will mean we can perform very high-level work here for our local patients.

“We have really expanded our facilities to be able to improve the patient care and provide a wonderful experience at the vets for all of our clients.

“This is the first time we have had a purpose-built building, it’s something we’ve never had before so it’s very exciting.

“We can’t wait to show people the incredible facilities we now have in Felixstowe.”

Ryder-Davies and Partners, which was established in 1973, has other practices in Woodbridge, Ipswich and Rendlesham.

The building was designed by Suffolk architects Hollins, with work starting on site in February last year.

James Purnell, Senior Contracts Manager at Seamans, said: “We are incredibly proud of the delivery of this project.

“Bringing this disused parcel of land back into use, and to deliver the project within budget and on schedule shows the dedication of everyone involved in the project.

“The feedback we have received from the veterinary practice has been great.

“It has been a pleasure working with them and we wish them, and their four-legged patients, all the best in the future.”

For more on Seamans and its projects, see www.seamans.co.uk

It’s the small things that make the difference in construction

Construction projects can often impress simply with their sheer size and scale – but it can be the finer details that really make the difference.

From a well put together oak joint to a flawless finish on an outside wall, these small details show off not only a craftsperson’s skill but also their commitment to perfection.

Here, Ben Whatling, Special Works Director at Seamans, looks at how crucial the small things are to a successful construction project.

Details matter

It’s the details that make a difference.  It is important to appreciate the bigger picture, but you must never loose sight of the details.

We are fortunate enough to work on a large variety of projects but one thing that remains the same is our desire to provide a quality approach in all aspects of our work.

Standing back and looking at what we have completed on a project and the efforts that are made in achieving the finer details is what makes this role rewarding, both from a point of view of the end product but also in acknowledging the tradespeople who have completed the work.

A job well done

We believe that quality should already be expected but it does takes a lot of work and skill to get right – from sourcing the best materials to ensuring the finished product matches the customer’s expectations.

At the root of it is problem solving.

In many cases, particularly period restoration works, you may not know how everything is assembled.  There are things you unearth as the project progresses, it is working with this information and trying to ensure an integral approach that leads to a job well done.

It takes an experienced team to solve these problems and to work out the best way to get the job done, and to make sure it is done right.

We have worked hard to get the right skill set in our own workforce and supply chain and at Seamans Building, we take huge pride in the quality of our finished product.

Seeing a project to completion, walking around the site and seeing everything has been finished to the best possible standard is hugely satisfying.

For more information on Seamans’ projects, see here.

“I trained as an apprentice – and so did my sons”

Apprenticeships are the backbone of the construction industry, passing on crucial skills and knowledge to the next generation of craftspeople.

At Seamans Building we have a mix of talented people with a range of skills, some who joined us as apprentices and some now training apprentices themselves.

Among them is carpenter Neil Honeyball, who has seen his four sons all enter the construction industry, including his youngest who is currently an apprentice carpenter at Seamans.

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, Neil shares his view on what it has been like to see his sons train as apprentices and how important apprenticeships are to the construction industry.

Starting out

Since joining Seamans, Neil has worked on some of the company’s biggest and most high-profile projects.

Starting as an apprentice carpenter with Seamans in 1986, Neil went self-employed once qualified before returning to the company five years later.

“I ended up running sites,” he said. “And the rest is history.

“I have worked on some amazing projects with Seamans. Cupola House in Bury St Edmunds is among the highlights.

“That was probably the most technical project I have worked on to date – we spent three years on that, it’s probably my flagship project.

“It was an incredible project to work on and we were pleased when that hard work was recognised with a number of awards.

“That was a project I got really engrossed in.”

Family

Neil’s four sons have all entered the construction sector. Three have joined him as carpenters and his oldest works as a heating engineer.

He said it has been great seeing his sons follow in his footsteps.

“My son Max has come to Seamans to do his carpentry apprenticeship and my son Ben also did his apprenticeship with us,” he said.

“Max is getting on really well – he seems to have a real knack for the work.

“My oldest Reece is a heating engineer, working for H2O Plumbers, while my son Adam is a talented carpenter himself too.

“My son Ben, who is also a carpenter, has also worked on projects with Seamans.

“I should really start my own family business!

“It has been great seeing my boys enter the trade – you get to work on some brilliant projects and work with some great people.”

Apprenticeships

Neil said apprenticeships are a great way to pick up vital skills and earn while you learn.

“Apprentices are not only earning a wage to help them get on with life but also learning vital skills for the future,” he said.

“We need youngsters in the trade to come in and learn. Unfortunately, as a trade, we lose some of the old fraternity each year and it is important these construction skills are passed to the next generation.

“Apprenticeships ensure these important skills and knowledge will never be lost.”

See our blog page for more about our staff and our current projects.

New trainee site manager becomes Seamans’ first Passivhaus champion

Seamans’ new trainee site manager has become the company’s first Passivhaus champion.

Ryan Austin, 24, joined the company in July having completed an apprenticeship at a company in Essex.
Ryan Austin Passivhaus champion

He is currently working at Seaman’s Duck End Barns site in Cambridgeshire.

The project is the first full Passivhaus project the company has worked on, a building approach and standard that maximises energy efficiency.

He said: “My role will be to ensure all subcontractors are aware of the Passivhaus standard and that everything is up to that level.

“I will make sure everything is airtight and that all subcontractors and staff are aware of the high standard of work we require.

“It is nice to have that added responsibility as well as my role as trainee site manager.”

Ryan began his career as a labourer around six years ago.

“I did a bricklaying apprenticeship at a company in Manningtree,” he said, “that was my way into the trade.

“Once I had completed my apprenticeship, I was interested in getting into site management – and Seamans were keen to train me up.

“I’m loving my time at Seamans, especially the extra responsibility they have given me.

“I am delighted to take on the role, it shows the company have confidence in me.”

You could say Ryan takes his work home with him – as most of his spare time when not on site goes into renovating his own home.

“I have been working on it for just over a year now,” he said, “I‘m getting there!

“It’s a Victorian terrace and was about 20 years out of date when I got it.

“It needed a lot of replastering, filling and painting but it’s nearing completion now – just the last finishing touches.”

For more on Seamans projects, see here.

Bringing Suffolk’s most famous historic buildings back to their former glory

At Seamans Building, we take enormous pride in breathing new life into some of Suffolk’s most historic buildings.

From resurrecting Grade II-listed buildings from the ashes to restoring iconic town landmarks, it is always a privilege to be involved in such important work.

Buildings such as Cupola House in Bury St Edmunds and the Tide Mill in Woodbridge mean so much to the communities they are part of – so it is a joy to be able to bring them back to their former glory.

David Hart, our Special Works Manager, was one of the first on scene when Cupola House was ravaged by fire in June 2012.

Working alongside structural engineers and insurers, David helped co-ordinate the response of personnel, plant and equipment alongside the local authority and emergency services.

He said: “I got the call when the fire started and worked with emergency services and the town council to get the remains down and make the area and adjacent buildings safe.

“It took three or four weeks until the fire was completely out.

“It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, it really helped seeing how the building was taken down and seeing how all the pieces fit together.”

We were later tasked with restoring the Cupola House, carefully rebuilding the iconic, Grade II-listed building while taking care to retain its features and style.

Another project David said made a big impact on him was the restoration of the Tide Mill in Woodbridge, a Grade I-listed building.

“The Woodbridge Tide Mill is a favourite as before I worked on that project I had no idea of the workings and mechanics of how a tide mill works,” he said.

“While it had been clad with a modern façade, the actual oak framing and everything on the gearing inside was original.

“Once we got in there and saw that, we decided were going to try and keep most of it.

“We put new wooden teeth in the gearing for the hoists, and then had the team create a new water wheel.

“That has to stand out as something you realise you will never do again in your life – it really is a once in a lifetime experience being part of an exciting project like that.

“You also take pleasure from the simple things, like creating features and details that make the building feel like it is the original.

“It’s tangible – sometimes you will walk into these heritage buildings after a renovation, and you just feel as if it has always been like that.”

David said he has his favourite projects over the years.

“There are too many to choose, but the clock tower at Rougham Hall was an incredible project to work on,” he said.

“Being there takes you back to the 1940s, when Germany dropped bombs directly on the site.

“The explosion had stopped the clock on the clock tower at the exact moment the bomb hit the ground – a moment in history frozen in time.

“When looking into the project, we discovered the mechanism that drives the clock is original, dating back to the 1920s.

“Our team got the scaffolding in place and removed six one-tonne bags of straw and debris caused by nesting rooks in the tower – revealing a timber deck and the original gearing of the clock.

“It was incredible to see the slice of history in person. It’s the sort of thing you think wow, no one gets to see that.”

David said some heritage renovations combined modern technology and building techniques to update the property, while bringing it into the 21st century.

“We worked on Thorrington Hall in Stoke by Nayland, which is a National trust property, where we did a refurb there,” he said.

“But the twist here was all the heating of the hot water was with solar panels.

“They set all this kit away from the hall and then ran all the services under the ground into the building.

“Here you have a Grade II* hall with the refurbishment reinstating everything inside meticulously, while also being energy efficient.”

Another project we feel privileged to be part of is the restoration of The George Pub in Wickham market, which was destroyed by fire ten years ago.

The local pub acts as an important community hub in most villages in Suffolk, so we were delighted to have been chosen to rebuild this much -loved building.

Although Seamans have made a name for ourselves resurrecting some of Suffolk’s most historic and eye-catching buildings, David said he takes great joy in the smaller refurbishments that have a big impact on people’s lives.

He said working to rebuild thatched properties destroyed in fires is hugely rewarding, putting back together someone’s dream home.

“It’s like a phoenix from the fire,” he said. “Day one you see this absolute trauma scene and then some months later you are shaking hands and handing back their home fully restored.

“It’s amazing how you can get these places back to where they were and it’s very rewarding when you see the look on the owner’s face.”

David added working on heritage projects really gives you an appreciation of the craftsmanship of years gone by.

“As someone who works in heritage properties, you always appreciate a well put together joint or a peg joint that is correct and true,” he said.

“To think these guys didn’t have the lasers or high-tech equipment we have now – it’s really impressive.

“It makes you wonder what future generations of builders will think when they see our work in years to come.

“I hope they feel that same sense of respect for the trade.”

For more information or to get in touch with a member of the team, please call 01359 230 430.

Scaffolding off at new Felixstowe veterinary practice

Work is quickly progressing at the new veterinary practice in Garrison Lane, Felixstowe – with the scaffolding now removed from the building.

Seamans began work on the project in February on behalf of Ryder-Davies and Partners, which was looking to relocate from its current branch in Queen’s Road.

The framework and structure of the building has been completed, with Seamans contractors now plastering the rooms to give the inside walls a smooth finish.

The building’s reception area, with its tall, vaulted ceiling and large skylights, has been completed and the building’s PV panels have been secured to the roof.

Steve Revell, Senior Contracts Manager at Seamans, said: “The building has now been made watertight and the K Rend white render has been applied.

“The scaffolding has now been removed and our team of contractors are now busy plastering the inside walls.

“All the windows have been put in and the first fix mechanical and electrics containment have also been installed.

“The project is progressing really well – you can see the building take shape and start to imagine how each room will be used.

“It’s great to be able to show the team from Ryder-Davies how the building work is progressing and it’s lovely to hear how pleased they are with the work we have done.”

The new state-of-the-art practice will include a laboratory, surgical theatre and suite, as well as consulting and diagnosis rooms.

Once opened, the new veterinary practice is expected to bring 20 new jobs to the town.

Dr Joe Steventon, Partner at Ryder-Davies and Partners, said: “We come down here every month to look around the new building and are in contact with the Seamans team almost on a daily basis.

“It’s really exciting to see the building progress from a paper drawing to what we see in front of us today.

“You can see it will be a fantastic premises to provide excellent veterinary care, as well as providing future employment opportunities for the town.”

The building is expected to be completed, and the new vets open for business, in February next year.

For more information on Seamans Building and its projects, see here.

Seamans’ solar panels reach energy generating milestone

Seamans Building is proud to have reached a big environmental milestone – having generated enough energy with our solar panels to meet the electric bills of more than 170 homes for a year.

As a construction company, we know we have a responsibility to help protect the environment in any way we can, so 12 years ago we had solar panels installed at our headquarters in Thurston.

Here, Glenn King, our Environmental Champion, reflects on reaching this milestone, and how important it is that companies like ours do our bit to help the environment.

Clean, renewable energy

Our solar panels have graced the roof of our head office at Prospect House since 2011.

Since then, every time the sun has shone we have been generating clean, renewable energy.

We haven’t really paid much attention to the panels since they were installed – they have quietly been generating electricity in the background.

However, last week, after a cursory glance at the panels’ electricity meter, we realised we had hit the 500,000 kilowatt hour mark, or 0.5 gigawatt hours (GWh).

What can 0.5 GWh power?

After some quick Googling, we realised 0.5 GWh is enough electricity to meet the electricity needs of more than 170 homes for a year – which, as a housebuilder ourselves, is heartwarming to hear.

We worked out this would power an electric Tesla S car for 1.7 million miles, and would boil enough kettles to make 16 million cups of tea.

It has also reminded me of Back to the Future – where Doc Brown exclaims he needs 1.21 gigawatts to get the DeLorean to travel through time.

Seeing the dial turn to 0.5 GWh got me thinking – we’re almost halfway to powering our own flux capacitor!

Why it is important for businesses to play their part

Seamans are determined to play a role in protecting the environment and tackling the climate crisis.

If our solar panels have generated 0.5GWh of electricity since they were installed, imagine how much energy could be generated if more companies had them.

Seamans have committed to achieving Net Zero by 2030 and have already reduced our total CO2 emissions by 21.5% since 2011.

This has been achieved through fitting speed limiters to our vans, the introduction of hybrid and full electric company cars, the renewal of vans with more fuel-efficient replacements and the replacement of stores lighting with energy efficient LEDS – to name but a few.

We have also introduced paperless systems in the office, use rainwater harvesting for vehicle washing and energy monitoring of all our heating systems.

On top of this, we are proud members of the Suffolk Carbon Charter and support Suffolk County Council’s Creating the Greenest County initiative.

For more on Seamans Building and the services we provide, see here.

Seamans ready to help destroyed community pub rise from the ashes

Seamans Building is delighted to have been chosen to rebuild a much-loved community pub in Suffolk – which was destroyed in a devastating fire ten years ago.

The George in Wickham Market is set to rise from the ashes after a dedicated team of volunteers raised £1.5million for its renovation.

The restoration project is set to start within weeks thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Community Share Booster Programme, Co-op Finance and The Community Ownership Fund – which is part of the Government’s Levelling Up programme.

Seamans Building is proud to have been selected to take on the renovation of this beautiful grade II listed building.

Ben Whatling, Production Director at Seamans, said: “The George is an important building in the town and we are looking forward to bringing it back to life.

“This renovation is only possible due to the hard work and dedication of the volunteers who worked so hard securing funding.

“We are excited to start this brilliant project – we know how much it means to the town and will make sure the George is put back to its former glory.”

The building, which is Wickham Market’s last remaining pub, was previously believed to have been built in the 17th century but is now thought to date back to the early 16th century and the time of King Henry VIII.

The building was destroyed in a fire in April 2013 and had remained closed ever since.

A spokesman for the George Committee, said: “Without the success of this project this important Grade II listed building would have been demolished and lost forever.

“We can now ensure that The George will be saved to serve many generations to come.

“As an inclusive, friendly place to meet and eat with friends and family it will be the ‘peoples pub’ and the heartbeat of a thriving village.

“We thank everyone that have helped with their belief and investment including National Lottery players everywhere”.

For more information about the project, visit www.wmgeorge.co.uk

Seamans Building delighted to join Suffolk Construction Framework

Seamans Building are delighted to have been appointed to the Suffolk Construction Framework.

The framework is led by Suffolk County Council and Concertus Design & Property Consultants and will run until 31st May 2027.

Mark Reason, Pre-Construction Director at Seamans Building, said: “All at Seamans are looking forward to applying our skills and expertise to deliver for the local community. We applaud Suffolk County Council’s intense scrutiny of the broader impact of their investments and their commitment to ensuring public money is re-invested into local people, local jobs, and training.

“Being appointed to Lots 1 and 2 gives us the opportunity to deliver local construction projects up to a value of £4.5m, which is core to our business. We have always invested locally in apprenticeships, skills, and training – the Framework will help us build on that.

“Reducing carbon and improving energy efficiency is the big challenge for the construction industry . Working collaboratively with Concertus, the County Council and our local supply chain to pool our resources, will get the best of Suffolk – for Suffolk.”

Matthew Self, Managing Director at Concertus, said: “We are thrilled that the new iteration of the Suffolk County Council Construction framework is now live.

“It is great to see the enthusiasm of all contractors and suppliers in supporting the Councils ambition to achieve their Net Zero and Social Value targets. These commitments will make a real positive difference to Suffolk communities over the next four years.

“We are excited to see so many local firms appointed and look forward to continuing our positive working relationships.”

Seamans Building is proud of its history of successful projects which provide great benefits to its clients and communities. To find out more, visit the projects page.

Or, if you would like to discuss a project, you can get in touch here.