After spending 8 years living in San Diego and enjoying the beach life we moved back to our home in Bristol in the summer of 2020. We have family on Scilly and have been visiting regularly for 4 generations. It had long been our dream to be able to have a place to spend more and more time as we grew older and have a place our children could eventually bring their children. We were lucky enough to buy Reculver in December of 2020 with visions of creating a family home.
We had built this home in San Diego so thought we had a good understanding of how a large construction project would unfold, or so we thought !
We had an architectural designer assigned to the project quickly and away we went with some drawings and into the planning process. Here is where it started to move from what we knew. First off was a bat survey, all good, we need to be sympathetic to wildlife. What we didn't plan on was the fact that when the survey came back with no indications of bats we would not be able to continue until roosting season confirmed that bats didn't like our house. So that was it we had to put the program on hold from Feb - August until we paid for a second survey to confirm what we thought we already knew, which it did, no bats ! The planning process could now continue and we could choose a builder from the thousand or so local builders on the island. There were really only 3 potential builders on the island, all of course busy and eventually we managed to shake hands with one for a start in October 2021, no talk of a JCT or other such contractual nonsense, a firm handshake and a hard stare and away we went.
We were lucky enough to have family, Derek and Nathan, on hand to start us off by knocking the house to bits pretty much. Nathan keeping the hospital busy with his various escapades and Derek filling his beard with soot and debris. Derek had already built his own house, with massive help from me holding 2 windows at one point, and managing to shred my soft IT hands.
By the time the builder brought in the machines there wasn't much left. We steadily peeled back the layers to reveal we needed to keep peeling back the layers and we ended up at this!
When we built in the US we had a contractor that seemed to have access to an inexhaustible supply of skilled labour and the whole program took us 8 months to build a house about twice the size of Reculver. This wasn't the case on Scilly of course and we were making slow and steady progress with all working extremely hard but there just isn't the access to enough people to go at pace, thats island life. The building stage went on for the next 14 months where we learnt a whole lot about which companies ship to Scilly, which don't have a clue and what the difference is between a straight through carrier, a freight forwarder and how hard it was to generally deal with the logistics of building on a rock 28 miles off Cornwall! My best tip would be don't order the wrong water heaters and have to send them back !
It was amazing to get some photos sent when big items like staircases and bifold doors somehow made it from a warehouse on the mainland to the quay in penzance across on the Gry (whose schedule is committed to memory) unloaded on the quay in St Marys, picked up and dropped off at the house. The process just works and being a small island everyone gets involved and people have multiple skills that they bring to the party!
We finally finished in March 2023 about 18 months after starting the journey and then we had to get all the furniture, which had been piled up in spare rooms of our house in Bristol for about a year to the island. We had shipped it early and it was in storage on the trading estate near Porth Mellon and then one morning it arrived on the Strand along with about 2 gig crews worth of people who unloaded it all in about 30 minutes. All the tech then went in and we now had a functioning house.
We had a great soft opening when I went with my school friends and then with my mother and father in law in March. I managed to squeeze one last piece of tech in, which you can connect to at https://app.weathercloud.net/device/sticker/4951177181
My new hobby is now monitoring my solar panels and letting everyone know how much they are producing and saving. We hope you will choose to stay at Reculver and enjoy it as we are hoping to over the years. Its actually gig weekend now and Reculver couldn't be in a better position looking out onto the chaos that is currently town beach.
If you have any questions about the process of building on Scilly feel free to contact us!