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

Apprentice urges young people to consider career in carpentry

A young apprentice at Seamans Building says she was inspired to take up carpentry after helping her grandfather as a child.

Erin Keer, 20, joined the company in March 2022, having spent two years at Suffolk New College in Ipswich studying carpentry and joinery.

Erin Keer

Erin said she loves her job and would advise other young people to consider a career the sector.

“My grandfather was a builder when I was a child and I was always helping him out,” she said.

“When I was younger, I had originally wanted to become a photographer but later realised sitting at a computer for hours on end just wasn’t for me.

“I have always liked building stuff and helping my grandad. Then when I started doing carpentry, I couldn’t get enough of it.

“It’s how you can take a big load of timber and transform it into windows, cupboards, furniture, doors – I love the process from start to finish.”

Erin said despite being one of the only women in the carpentry workshop, she fits right in at Seamans.

“When I started at Seamans I felt part of the company straight away, I didn’t get treated any different because I am a young woman,” she said.

“I would say to women who are interested in carpentry or construction to just go for it.

“It’s a brilliant industry to work in and you learn new things every day.

“If you can get your foot in the door there’s a bright future ahead of you.”

Ben Whatling, Production Director at Seamans, said: “Erin is a hugely valued member of our team and has fitted in perfectly since she started with us in March.

“Her enthusiasm for her work is infectious and she’s always got a smile on her face.

“She is a great example to other women considering a career in construction as well as young people looking to take their first steps into the sector.”

Seamans Building are keen to support the next generation into a career in construction.

That’s why we work closely with local organisations to promote the industry to young people, and to make the sector easier for them to access.

See here for more on Seaman’s pledge to support young people into construction.

How Cupola House rose from the ashes

Ten years ago a devastating blaze ripped through Cupola House – one of Bury St Edmunds’ most historic buildings.

The 17th century, Grade I listed building – then a Strada restaurant – went up in flames on June 16, 2012, to the shock of the town.

Cupola House


Seamans Building were on the scene that night, brought in by structural engineers to assist firefighters bravely battling the flames.

But as the smoke finally cleared, thoughts immediately switched to how to rebuild Cupola House from the ashes.

Here, Ben Whatling, Production Director at Seamans, takes a look at Seamans’ role in restoring the historic landmark to its former glory.

The night of the fire

Seamans were called in by structural engineers Richard Jackson Ltd the very night of the fire.

Because much of the building had been destroyed, we attended to ensure the structure’s stability as firefighters tackled the fire.

At one point the facade of the building looked at risk, the heat of the fire causing it to expand.

Seamans’ engineers cut a small strip from the front elevation to reduce the pressure, allowing it to be saved.

After the flames were extinguished and the site checked for hotspots, next came the fire investigation.

Seamans were on hand to secure the building and help save vital evidence needed to piece together what had happened.

The clear up

This was a particularly challenging site to work on.

With much of the rear of the building collapsed we had to work slowly, carefully removing debris piece by piece.

Cupola House

To achieve this, Seamans constructed temporary scaffolding and, using a skip suspended from a crane, began clearing the rubble.

As the site was slowly cleared, there were a few surprises buried beneath the building.

While excavating, our team discovering a medieval well and additional rooms under the floor.

While the clear-up continued, working alongside St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Purcell Architects, plans were drawn up to how to restore the much-loved building.

Rising from the ashes

To future-proof the building and reduce the chance of another fire, it was decided a steel frame should be used to reinforce the building’s structure.

However, the team were keen to retain the building’s unique and eccentric lines.

This meant engineers were faced with out-of-plumb angles and wonky floors and walls.

Various local craftsmen and women were brought in to construct the detailed interior.

This included Church and Gooderham Ltd, based in Earl Soham, who constructed the oak staircases, and master woodcrafter Rob Lewis, in Haughley, who created the building’s beautiful, ornate carvings.

However, the day the whole town had been waiting for was when the rebuilt cupola, constructed in Seamans’ carpentry workshop in Thurston, was finally lifted onto the building.

It was a great sight to see and at that point, felt like the project was coming to an end.

Building work was completed in August 2016.

A team effort

This project is a shining example of what can be achieved when councils, companies and individuals come together for a common good.

It was a pleasure working on such an important project, and we were delighted by how it turned out.

This restoration needed the best quality craftmanship, sourced locally – just like how it would have been built back in 1693 – and that’s exactly what happened.

In 2017 Seamans Building won two LABC Building Excellence Awards for our work on the project while in March 2018 we won Heritage Project of the Year at the NFB Awards.

Suffolk News – Ten years on from devastating Bury St Edmunds blaze article.


Encouraging the next generation into construction

At Seamans Building, we believe construction is the most rewarding and exciting industry there is – especially for young people.

That’s why we work closely with local organisations to promote the industry to young people, and to make the career easier for them to access.

As part of this, Seamans has recently donated two tonnes of flint to West Suffolk College.

We have also joined the icanbea… online tool, a scheme aimed at supporting 12–25-year-olds in Suffolk and Norfolk into work and training.

Here, Ben Whatling at Seamans, takes a look at how the firm is encouraging more young people into the sector.

Learning new skills

We have a number continued to support a number of apprentices of all ages at Seamans Building, and every one of them learns new skills on the job every day.

Our projects often combine contemporary building techniques with heritage skills and craftmanship – so there’s always something new to learn.

We have a wealth of experience and know-how at Seamans, and we are always thrilled whenever we get the chance to pass that knowledge on.

In fact, our 18-year-old apprentice Louis Hart just received runner up in the Apprentice of the Year category at the SJCC Awards.

“I have really enjoyed my time at Seamans so far and am really excited about my future,” he said.

“It is such a rewarding and challenging career – I would advise any young people considering construction to give it a go.”

Louis is a shining example of the incredible wealth of talent we have in Suffolk, and the importance of supporting young people keen to get into the industry.

Access to learning

Giving young people the opportunity to learn construction skills is vital for the future of the construction sector.

That’s why Seamans has recently donated flint, as well as 20 bags of premixed lime mortar, to West Suffolk College (WSC), to give them the materials they need to learn the trade.

Rebecca Mann, Head of Construction and The Built Environment, Strategic Growth and Partnerships, Apprenticeships at West Suffolk College, said: “WSC are very proud to work with Seamans, helping to educate and train existing and new members of the company’s workforce.

“Seamans are a loyal and dedicated business who have supported our programmes of study and apprenticeship training schemes for many years.

“Having companies who are willing to share their ideas, resources and networks is integral and help to forge successful relationships between local business and the local community.

“Together, alongside many other business’ we are helping to shape the future workforce in Construction and Building services.

“A big thank you to Seamans for their kind donation of materials which will help students to practice their skills in our workshops”

A rewarding career

To help more young people enter the construction sector, Seamans has just joined the icanbea… online tool, a platform that helps employers make themselves visible to new young talent approaching the job market.

Are you interested in a career in construction? Are you looking for a new challenge?

If you feel you have the necessary skills to join our exciting team, then please let us know about you.

To view our latest vacancies please follow our page on icanbea…

You can also download and complete our Application for Employment Form via our careers page.

Seamans toast triple win at SJCC awards

The Seamans team had a wonderful evening at the Suffolk Joint Construction Committee (SJCC) Awards – picking up three awards on the night.

The glittering annual awards ceremony is a celebration of the county’s craftsmen and women and seeks to shine a light on the amazing construction projects going on across Suffolk.

Seamans Building was excited to win three awards on the night – one for its refurbishment of the Grade II listed Grove Park in Yoxford, and another two for its work on Otley House, which included extending and refurbishing the main building, dating back to the 16th century.

Seamans scooped the Craftsmanship Distinction for Alterations and Extension award and the Design Award Winner for Alterations and Extension for its work on Otley House, while its refurbishment of Grove Park won the Craftsmanship Award for Restoration.


Meanwhile, 18-year-old Louis Hart was runner up in the Apprentice of the Year award category.

Louis said: “We had a brilliant evening at the SJCC awards, and getting runner-up for the Apprentice of the Year award was the cherry on top.

“I have really enjoyed my time at Seamans, it is a great company to work for and it feels great to be recognised for my work.

“Construction is, in my opinion, the best industry there is, and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into my next project.”

Ben Whatling, Production Director at Seamans, said: “The awards were fantastic – it is so important we showcase the brilliant craftsmen and women Suffolk produces and the excellent work they do.

“There were incredible projects in every category at this year’s awards so we were delighted to receive three on the night.

“We are very proud of our work on both Grove Park and Otley House, so were thrilled our team’s hard work had been recognised.

“And a huge well done to Louis getting runner-up in the Apprentice of the Year Awards.

“He is a hugely capable apprentice and has a very bright future ahead of him.

“He is a brilliant member of our team and we were so pleased all his hard work has been noticed.

“It was a great night for the team as a whole and one we’ll long remember.”

For more information on our award-winning builds, visit our projects page.

Photography Credit: Simply C Photography

Conservatories and Orangeries – What are the differences?

One of the areas of work which Seamans Building specialise in is extensions – specifically, orangeries and conservatories which make for a striking addition to any property.

Here we explain the key structural differences between the two – and how we, as a leading home developer in East Anglia, can help design and build either type of structure to an extremely high standard.


Home developer East Anglia - a photo of an orangery


An orangery (above) is a brick structure with large windows and a flat roof with a glass (roof) lantern or skylight. They use less glass than conservatories and aren’t always attached to the rear of a house – they can be free-standing.

They weren’t a feasible proposition for any homeowner before the 17th century because glass (and particularly the large panes needed for orangeries) was so prohibitively expensive. However, developments in glass production meant they began to appear in homes in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Originally, they were a way of growing soft or citrus fruits, including oranges. Kings and lords in various North European countries decided they wanted their own home-grown fruit and one way of achieving this was to mimic the trees’ original growing conditions. So the north-facing wall was usually made out of brick as protection against the cold (sometimes a stove or heater was included for extra heat) while the south-facing wall contained glass windows. This, coupled with the glass lantern on the roof, maximised the amount of sunlight the fruit trees received.

Orangeries were much more than a place for growing fruit – they were also used to house other features such as fountains and grottos, or they doubled up as an area to entertain guests. Increasingly, they were regarded as something of a status symbol among the wealthy.

Today the modern orangery is more likely to house unusual or exotic plants than fruit trees. It can act as a ‘bridge’ between the main part of the house and the garden, and architecturally it usually has a lot in common with the former.



The word conservatory comes from the Italian ‘conservato’, meaning stored or preserved, and the Latin ‘ory’ (a place for). Later the word was used to describe glazed structures for conserving, or protecting, plants from cold weather. They are traditionally attached to the rear of existing houses and have full glass roofs and walls. In the UK a conservatory is defined as ‘a building where at least 50% of the side walls and 75% of the total roof area consists of translucent glass or polycarbonate glazing’.

They superseded orangeries in popularity when fully glazed extensions become more feasible from both a financial and a structural point of view. Unlike orangeries, they do not have a solid roof perimeter and often do not share many common architectural features with the original house.

As well as protecting plants from the vagaries of the British climate, conservatories are often used as a sunroom, or just somewhere to relax and soak up the sun, by many modern households.


Are Either Extensions?

Extensions are generally built with insulated walls and a solid (rather than glass) roof, and count as added floor space to an existing house.  A conservatory will generally not need any changes to a property’s foundation, whereas an extension or an orangery may require extra stability in order to be constructed.

For planning permission purposes, orangeries and conservatories are considered a single-storey extension and subject to the same guidelines and building regulations as an extension. You do not need planning permission for any of them provided you build within permitted development rights following the guidelines for what is acceptable.

For instance, if the new structure will cover more than half the land the original house stands on, or if it will be positioned forward of the front or side of the ‘original house’ that faces onto a road, then you will need planning permission. The same applies if the new structure will extend any higher than the roof on the ‘original house’.


Orangery and Conservatory Design in Suffolk from Seamans Building

Whatever type of extension you want, Seamans Building will be able to help – we offer extension, orangery and conservatory design for domestic and commercial customers across Suffolk and East Anglia. We will project manage your new addition from start to finish, working in partnership with architects, engineers and surveyors, and we have an excellent reputation for high-quality work, including on heritage and conservation buildings. We will also be able to advise you on the relevant Building Regulations and permitted development rights which need to be followed.

If you would like to know more, call us on 01359 230430 or follow this link for more information.

Key reasons to choose Seamans Building for your housebuilding project

Any property is a major investment, whether you are buying something from scratch or just want to redesign or reconfigure your current home. Here are four key reasons why Seamans Building, a leading house builder based near Bury St Edmunds, are the people to turn to.


Our Versatility

Seamans Building create bespoke individual houses, but if you just want to improve your current home, then we carry out conversions and renovations as well. We are also a highly experienced commercial building contractor – across Suffolk and East Anglia there are many examples of schools, community centres, village halls and other public access properties which bear the Seamans stamp of quality.

Thanks to our design and build service, we can work with a team of architects, engineers and surveyors to ensure that your dream home – or commercial development – can become a reality. We act as a single point of contact right through the whole construction process and can take care of all the administrative details, such as managing your planning application for you.

We also have a team of dedicated plumbing and heating engineers, Homes 2 Office, who operate throughout East Anglia.


Our High Professional Standards

Seamans Building are members of a variety of trade bodies, including OFTEC (the Oil Firing Technical Association, which recognises installers who are approved to install and maintain all types of heating equipment), the National Federation of Builders and the National House Building Council (NHBC).

We also take health and safety extremely seriously, and members of our management team are qualified to NEBOSH (National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) and IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) standards. We are also part of the Contractors’ Health and Safety Assessment Scheme (CHAS) and many of our ISO accreditations relate to safety standards. For a full list of our accreditations, follow this link.


Our Eyes on the Future

Seamans Building are conscious of the need for sustainable building and can use environmentally friendly techniques or more traditional methods. Whichever type you prefer, our properties are all built to the highest of standards and can include modern ‘green’ touches, such as adding electric car charging points.

We are fully committed to training the next generation of builders and craftsmen, and we are constantly bringing through apprentices onto the staff to ensure that key skills are not lost in the future. This applies to a variety of trades used across the construction industry, including bricklaying, carpentry, painting & decorating and plumbing.


Our Commitment to the Customer

Whatever type of project we are involved in, we make sure the client is involved every step of the way so that they are happy with our work.

We also recognise the importance of working quickly, particularly in the case of buildings which have been damaged by fire, accidents, flooding and extreme weather. We offer a complete disaster recovery solution which will ensure that your home or business is made secure and safe as quickly as possible. Our in-house teams of craftsmen will be able to reproduce or repair any damaged features to their original condition.


Getting in Touch with Seamans – Building Contractors in Suffolk

If you would like to know more about any of Seamans Building’s services, you can contact us by following this link. You can also call us on 01359 230 430.

Why opt for a house conversion?

House conversions are one of the big growth areas of construction – they give your home a completely new look, and they are a comparatively straightforward and inexpensive way of improving your property.

Seamans Building are building contractors based near Bury St Edmunds. Here we look at some of the key advantages of opting for a conversion rather than an extension or a complete rebuild.


It Makes Better Use of the Available Space

Many homes have spaces which aren’t being used to their fullest potential. For instance, many homes have lofts, attics or basements which can all be converted into additional living spaces without the need to build an extension.

Garages are often used as a dumping ground for garden and DIY-related clutter. If  you have a driveway or a guaranteed parking space outside your home then a garage can usually be converted into an extra bedroom.

Assuming you live in a home which has more than one storey, what about the wasted space beneath your staircase? This can easily be converted into a downstairs cloakroom, which will be particularly useful to any members of your family who aren’t particularly mobile.


You Don’t Lose Any Room

Extensions can be an attractive idea – a less invasive solution, in contrast to a conversion – but do you want to lose a chunk of your valuable garden or outdoor space to make room for it (assuming you have enough to make such a project feasible in the first place)?

Conversions can also free up space elsewhere in your home. For instance, creating an extra bedroom in the loft or basement means you can have a games or hobbies room in what was the guest bedroom.


The Financial Factors

Although much will depend on the original structure of the property being renovated, conversions can work out much cheaper than building a new extension (or moving house altogether). It’s not just the cost of the work – remember you are generally making use of existing walls and fittings – but the additional planning expenses could be avoided.

Loft conversions, for instance, are classified as ‘permitted development’, provided the work does not exceed certain specified limits (for instance, any new roofing should not add more than 40m3 of space for terraced houses, or 50m3 on detached and semi-detached houses. Provided these regulations are adhered to, the conversions will not need planning permission (and all the time and money that is required to put in an application).

Think, If you were to convert part of your property into a fitness suite or a games room, of the time you’ll save , more time to get Fit!


They Add Value

This is a long-term benefit which only really kicks in when you decide to move. Increasing your home’s floor area should  increase the property value.

In the case of garage conversions, for instance, estate agents Portico estimate that converting your car’s ‘home’ into an office, gym, games room or additional bedroom can add as much as 15% to the value of your home. It doesn’t just have to be a garage conversion – any unused space, once converted, can attract would-be buyers.


Conversion Projects with Seamans, Building Contractors near Bury St Edmunds

As a leading home developer based in Suffolk, Seamans Building have many years of experience in home conversion projects throughout the county. Even if your building is listed, we’ll make sure you comply with any relevant Building Regulations.

Whether you want to make more use of a garage, loft, basement, attic or any other space inside your home, we offer a complete service, project managing the whole work from start to finish. We will work in partnership with architects, surveyors and engineers to ensure your work is completed to the very highest of standards.

If you would like to know more about our home conversion work, you can call us on 01359 230 430; full contact details of all our various departments can be found by following this link.

Reasons for buying a new home

Ever considered buying or building a new home? As experts in new housing developments, here are some great reasons why we believe a new build is the best choice.

You can choose your Dream Home

New build homes are often designed with modern living in mind – making them a light & airy space efficient and comfortable place to live in.  Homes built by Seamans Building are newly decorated with all the mod-cons, a brand-new fitted kitchen and boiler, lovely clean bathrooms etc.

If you buy ‘off plan’ from a developer you may be also able to choose a specific plot as well as your own flooring, wall colours and fixtures and fittings etc, adding your own stamp to your new home.

The Eco-friendly Choice

A new home build will undoubtedly be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly than an older property. 

Appliances and light fittings will be brand new and energy efficient.  Double glazed windows won’t let the draught through.  A new heating system, cavity wall and loft insulation will ensure your home stays toasty and warm – all saving you money in the long run. 

Some new build homes may also provide car charging points.

Low repair costs

With everything in your new home being brand new, there will be no need to repair or renovate anything.  A ‘snagging period’ is a time agreed with your builder or housing provider which allows the builder to return to fix any little issues normal to a new build.  

Most new build properties will come with a variety of warranties including a 10-year warranty via the NHBC (or similar) which will cover you for defects or any structural issues.

Excellent Quality & Peace of Mind

New-build homes are built to a much higher specification than older properties, with high levels of security features including window locks and British Standard 5 lever locks to the main doors of your new home.  Modern homes are built using the latest fire-resistant materials and will have linked smoke alarms installed.

All of this could equate to reduced house and contents insurance – again, saving you money!

No chain

And if all of that wasn’t reason enough to purchase or build a new home – the exciting part is that you can move in as soon as its complete!  With no chain, there is no waiting for others to move out, and therefore no delay.  Being chain-free makes the moving process much more enjoyable allowing you to relax and enjoy your beautiful new home.  

About Seamans Building

Seamans Building, Suffolk provide a wide range of home extension & renovation services, from small house extensions to large house renovations or home refurbishments.

Contact us for more information about our new home build / design & build services

Suffolk Joint Construction Committee Awards 2019

Seamans Building attended the Suffolk Joint Construction Committee Awards on the 9th May 2019.  With 2 entries in the running for an award, Seamans  were delighted to receive winning awards for both!

Firstly, Seamans picked up the Winners Award for Best New Build – Large Scheme, for the 14 Almshouses, Framlingham completed earlier this year. This project designed by Hollins Architects and built for The Mills Charity now provides quality living space for selected families in need.

Secondly, Seamans gained the Winners Award for a Restoration & Refurbishment project at a listed property within the town centre of  Bury St Edmunds.  Extensive work was carried out internally and externally restoring this previous wine merchants into a modern and unique family home.


Seamans Building has achieved further ISO accreditation


Continuous Registration to ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 45001:2018 including SSIP

We are delighted to announce Seamans Building has recently achieved further ISO accreditation 45001:2018.  This Occupational Health & Safety standard has been developed to provide employee safety, reduce workplace risks creating safer working conditions for business all over the world.  Integrated into our company’s existing management processes, it follows the same high-level structure as other ISO Management system standards, such as our already gained ISO 9001 (Quality Management) and ISO 14001 (Environmental Management) systems.

To find out more about the services we offer please contact us