Future looks bright for family firm as it scoops top building award
- Credit: Archant
A local, family-run building company has been awarded a top industry accolade.
Maple Building Services, based in Long Melford, was recently named Best Local Builder or Traditional Craftsperson in East Anglia in the 2020 LABC Building Excellence Awards.
It’s not the first time that the family-run business has scooped an award – it’s previously won an LABC award for Best Individual Home in 2018 and Most Consistent Builder in 2012 – but this, company director Darren Howard says, is its most sought-after.
Darren runs the business alongside his wife, Debbie, and a team of 25-30 contractors, including daughter Becky who is also a qualified quantity surveyor.
“Winning this award is a reflection of the past 25 years of hard work and good service,” he says. “It’s a combined effort from everyone on the team.”
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Darren set up the business over two decades ago. “I wanted to start a company based on old-school morals,” he explains, “and although we have grown over the years, we still have many long-standing members of staff. We’re still very much a traditional building company – we take pride and care in our work and that’s reflected in the end result.”
The team at Maple Building offers a wide range of services, from restoration, renovations and extensions on residential properties, to work on commercial outlets and leisure facilities. The team also works on new build developments as well as more sustainable projects, including those which use modern, energy-efficient technologies.
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“We can do work of any kind,” says Darren, “from a Grade II listed bell tower to Passive Houses. We keep up to date with modern technology and are open-minded, willing to take on new challenges.”
While the last few months have been challenging for many in the sector, Darren says he and the rest of the team have adapted and are working well. “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a hard impact, especially in the first few months,” says Darren. “But we have work to do and we’re being practical – it’s a new way of working and it’s not going anywhere.”
In addition to managing Maple Building Services, Darren has set up MBloc, a new concept company which aims to offer a more carbon-friendly approach to everyday construction.
The new concept uses sustainable materials and ensures efficiency for both developer and the client – as well as long-term low running costs for the owner once complete. It’s even seen Darren appear alongside Kevin McCloud on Channel 4’s Grand Designs programme, delivering the project on budget and on time.
Using the new technology, a single-storey, two-bedroom home, measuring 60 sq m, can be constructed in just eight weeks. By using concrete pad foundations instead of traditional methods, the new building technique can reduce the use of concrete, which has one of the world’s worst carbon footprints, by around 60pc. It also uses 10pc less carbon than a traditional house build.
What’s more, Darren says, is that the concept comes with a ICW 10-year structural warranty and is accepted by 97pc of mortgage lenders.
“In 50 years’ time, we won’t be building traditionally,” he says, “and we are already seeing a real change. I’ve always been interested in modern technology but I’ve never liked the idea of houses arriving off the back of the lorry.”
To illustrate the new concept, Darren has created his very own show home and filmed a video, which you can watch on MBloc’s website. “I’m an inventor, a problem-solver, not a salesman,” he explains, “so the purpose-built show home is as much to showcase what we do as it is to educate.
“Having owned Maple Building for over 20 years, I have used tried and tested methods of construction. But I wanted to come up with something different for the future – something that was new and was going to last.”
Darren says that while Maple Building caters to the traditional build, MBloc is about looking ahead to the future. “It’s the next generation of building technology. It’s designed to grow without needing any structural work and it has real, global potential.”
To find out more about Maple Building Services, visit www.maplebuildingservices.co.uk You can also watch a video of Darren’s new MBloc construction concept at www.mbloc.co.uk