It’s All In A Name

I’ve been asked to write a blog. Pretty ironic for a builder from Bletchley, so bear with me grammar and poor smelling! How does a name start? A question I’ve been pondering for a while. The term ‘scientist’ was created in 1834 by a Cambridge professor, William Whewell. Before he defined the word scientist, people were regarded as philosophers and ‘cultivators’ of science. I like his approach, so I have coined two terms of my own, first, Para-builder, as I’m registered blind and a builder. I am officially calling myself a Para-builder. I also happen to be a Para-entrepreneur, because I started my own business, Oliver James Garden Rooms. My research, or rather Google search tells me: “The word Paralympics means “parallel with the Olympics”, with the para prefix coming from the Greek word for alongside. The name was chosen to embody the spirit of the two movements existing side-by-side.” There is a common misconception that para is short for paraplegic, which dates back to the Games’ origins. The first version of the Paralympics was a competition for wheelchair athletes held at Stoke Mandeville Hospital on the first day of the 1948 London Olympics. Sir Ludwig Gutmann, the neurologist who organised the event, was quoted as saying that the Stoke Mandeville Games (as they were then called) would one day be acknowledged as “the Paraplegics’ equivalent of the Olympics”. So, I tell the lads on site “I’m a Para-builder” their reaction is not one I can type up, but I do remind them that each and every one of us, whether able-bodied or not, has an impairment of one...

Built to Last

Happy New Year. I wonder when it is that we feel we can’t wish people a Happy New Year. My guess would be 15th January. Unless of course were Orthodox or Chinese!! We have just started a new Garden Room in Milton Keynes. I was discussing as you can imagine the project with our client. I became aware that the client worked for Apple. Which led us into a discussion about the new HQ Apple are building themselves in California. It’s an enormous campus that will be the future of the company. I wonder if their new building is built to last 3 years. We all want to feel current but great design will outlast us. So perhaps when I am making my strategic purchases this year I’ll think of a VW Beetle and not the latest VW Golf which has been designed to fail and get me back in 3 year’s time or in VW case next month. One of our very first Garden Rooms (shown below) is still enjoyed every day and I know it’s current. It was designed and built 8 years ago. I also know that this room and all the others we have designed and built will be standing and enjoyed when I’m in the same place a Steve Jobs. But he can wait to meet me a few more years yet! Happy New Year...

The International Design & Architecture Awards 2015

Oliver James Garden Rooms is once again flying the flag for Milton Keynes’ design and build with the announcement that we have been shortlisted for The International Design & Architecture Awards 2015. Hosted by leading interior design magazine design et al, The International Design & Architecture Awards reward the best in design from across the globe. Oliver James Garden Rooms has been shortlisted for the ‘Best Glazed Extension’ award for our Rousham Garden Room. Despite Milton Keynes being a small pond, we entered these awards knowing that our garden room extensions are just as good, if not better than entries from the bigger fish. We want to put the new City of Milton Keynes on the map for its residential architecture – it’s much overlooked.  When I established Oliver James Garden Rooms I wanted to offer local homeowners an efficient, functional choice in the glazed home-extension sector. Since then, we’ve successfully provided more than forty clients with beautifully functional yet breathtaking spaces – individually designed to cater to their needs.  Reaching the shortlist of such a prestigious award truly illustrates the high quality of our projects and the superb abilities of our MK...

Replacing your glazed roof with a solid tiled roof

I have been drawn to write this piece in order that I can help clarify some regulatory points on a glazed roof/ extensions conservatory. Firstly a bit of history on conservatories… They were back in the day used for bringing on your tomatoes and house plants and were often added on to a property for enthusiasts. Over time these rooms were sold as an economic way to create extra space during the 80s and 90s it was degrigur to own a conservatory along with your shoulder pads, big hair and if very posh an avocado bidet!!! The sales teams for the national and local conservatory companies from the highest to the budget end went into overdrive to shift their product. We now seem to have another wave of similar sales tactics being employed with regard retro fitting a tiled roof onto your conservatory. As the conservatory was built to house your pot plants it is most likely to have been built without any regulatory approval. As long as you have a thermal break between your home and your conservatory no approval from building control is required. I have been called by friends and even had a company who supply these retro roofs telling me this is the future for conservatories. I have been telling everyone this is indeed the future and glazed extensions that leak energy by the bucket load are wrong on many levels. But it seems now the conservatory sales teams are telling us what was so great in the 80s is now not and they have solved all our woes with the problem of overheating or...

From forest to four by two

I was listening to a discussion this morning on Radio 4. I could get side tracked about a nice piece of middle ground radio in the morning. Between, “lets leap out of bed, star jump our way to our cereal bowls, what new Ferrari or Riva boat am I going to buy and how wonderful my life is Chris Evans or John Humphries tearing lumps out of one of our honourable!! members”. This morning I was in the mood for a bit of blood sport and the beating JH was going to give one of our honourable members. Horse and Lasagne was the discussion and the fact, that in the processed food industry meat and ingredients have no requirement for traceability. In our business, we have for years been able to trace back every piece of timber supplied and fixed to our projects. If you wanted your potential lasagne to jump over a fence you could trace the posts back to the forest, the tree and the date is was harvested. The saw dust used in the butchers could easily be traced back to its origin. So when you sit back after your Italian stallion lasagne you can look up at your roof and think I know where that timber came from. I think the food industry needs to get down with us builders for a...

Google gobbles our cash when low tax rate is cause for indigestion

I have been considering the amount we spend to enable our Google presence. I am disappointed to see yet again, that the clever minds at Google et al have worked out a way to pay a pittance in tax, in a country in which they trade. I feel that Google are making fools out of us, particularly when we are doing all we can to sell our products and services, whilst charging sales tax and being taxed on slim profits. Don’t get me wrong, I do not want to pay or charge any more tax than I have to, but I accept a certain morality on this point. We live in a free-thinking economy and we have choice. But our economy and society need income to provide services that give us all – from the poorest to the wealthiest – a safe society in which to live. The wider question is of course about closing these holes that the bright minds at Google love to find and exploit. Why is it that the minds working in the Treasury, Tax Office and EU do not appear to be quite so bright? Perhaps they should employ the same consultants that Google employ. Google’s latest ad campaign tells us that we can all create our own businesses from our kitchen table. They need to realise – that freedom; that belief; that hope and opportunity do exist in this society because we all pay our dues to be part of this club – good and bad. So in our very own David and Goliath way, we are turning off our Google Ad word...
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