Case Study

A creative solution to an almost catastrophic challenge

How we overcame building collapse and the unfortunate positioning of a critical sewer to re-develop a derelict site into four new houses.


Chilton Street, Bridgwater.

We purchased a derelict eye-sore barn threatening a local landowner’s residential development (a former mill converted to flats), taking all the hassle off his hands by completing the work and giving him a great price in return.

The Challenges
  • Before we completed the sale, the barn collapsed!
  • We had an extremely tight ‘footprint’ to work within as the rest of the site was used by residents of the primary mill conversion. Plus, we had to manage a complex foundation design to overcome the issue of having a sizeable main sewer too close for the new building to be acceptable to Wessex Water.
Our Approach

With the owners of the Crown Mill conversion now busy on other projects, they needed someone to take a small barn off their hands that was close to collapsing and posing as both a danger and eye sore to the mill’s residents.

We knew them well (they provide and fit flooring for our developments), so when they approached us to see if we would be interested in completing the development, we jumped at the chance. We offered to purchase the site immediately ‘as is’ but not before doing some careful research to check what was possible!

During the sale process, the barn collapsed, but this was not a significant issue. The Planners had accepted that developers would rebuild it, which hastened the demolition. And we agreed on a design that respected the original barn’s character, re-using all of the stone plus any salvageable tiles in the new building.

And then the next challenge arose. The end of the new building would come too close to a major sewer for it to be acceptable to Wessex Water. Loads from the building would be imposed onto the sewer or could even jeopardise the structure if the sewer ever had to be excavated.

Not wanting to make the building smaller (and lose value), we worked with Wessex Water on a solution. They accepted a reinforced cantilever foundation that would support the construction and carry loads away from the sewer. Andrew’s experience as a Building Inspector helped here. And his relationship with the Sewer Protection team at Wessex Water meant we could work together to find a creative solution to this problem.

As with many new-build projects (mainly containing multiple dwellings), there were many technical challenges to juggle and complete. These included:

  • Sound testing between properties.
  • Air-pressure testing within properties.
  • SAP Certificates.
  • Contamination testing & remediation certification.
  • Gas / electric installation certificates.
  • Release of all Planning conditions.
  • Building Regulations Completion Certificate.
The Outcome
The four new homes were completed and retained for long-term rental. They were quickly snapped up on 4-5 year tenancies by workers at the nearby Hinkley C project.