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How I Built My…with Ollie Allen

Ollie Allen isn’t JUST our Young Tradesperson of the Year winner.

He recently undertook a beautiful renovation of an old Methodist Church and turned it into a home for his family. He project managed the whole build from design to completion and has some wise words for other young tradespeople out there.

Thanks for talking to us, Ollie! How do you feel about winning Young Tradesperson of the Year?

I feel really proud to have won! I’ve worked so hard since starting out and have learnt a lot. It’s great to now have this award to my name and fly the flag for successful and motivated people within the construction industry.

What are you planning on doing with the winnings?

It’s going towards a much needed family holiday with my wife and daughter at some point this year. The £750 Jewson voucher will be spent on some carefully selected tools to help me grow my business. Some will speed up the process for certain tasks and some will help keep our job sites cleaner and tidier such as a Festool extraction system. It’s too hard to decide 100% as tools are a tradesman’s addiction!

What inspired you to undertake the build?

We had looked around the property market and were looking at all the usual houses, some with garages, some with loft conversions – all with loads of potential. At the time we saw the church I was concentrating on developing properties for profit. We saw the church online and it was a perfect fit – we thought ‘why not’ and ‘how amazing would it be to live in converted church’. These ideas and the passion to do something a little different were enough for us to secure funding and put in an offer for the Church, which saw us taking on the project!

How long did it take?

The build took about one to one and a half years in total along with other projects. We moved into a static caravan behind the church. We had the deadline of completing the build and moving in for May 2014 when we had planned our wedding.

What was the build like? Did it all go smoothly or were there some issues you had to iron out?

The build was a large project, literally a full conversion with a ‘no stone unturned’ approach. We didn’t have any major issues, we worked to the planning drawings and submitted a few amendments. We designed the final interior layout ourselves and I completed all the drawings. As Jess and I were living on-site it was tough at times to get away from the build and our minds were constantly on every tiny detail. We also changed our minds on certain aspects such as the staircase design so this may have added extra time onto the build.

What advice do you have to anyone looking to manage a project like this?

Planning is the key, along with having a great network of tradespeople and good suppliers who can work with you to get the products you need and at the right time. Even if you’re speaking to someone about working on your project 6 months in advance, they have it in their mind and you can build up the conversation so you know who is doing what and when, right from the start.

Would you do it again?

Yes, we most definitely would! My dream is to build a brand new home that’s suited to us and I’m currently looking for the perfect spot to build this! I’m looking into new building methods such a Passive House standard and I’m keen to explore new build processes and materials to make a unique project.

What would you say to any young tradesperson who wants to be like you?

If you have an idea or a passion telling you to do something then that’s where it all begins – go for it! If you’re driven enough and confident that you want to succeed then you’ll find people will believe and trust in you along the way. Start small but don’t be afraid to make the leap to a bigger project. Lots of successful people put their success down to ‘not giving up when you fail’ – if you fail, try again, adapt and try a few different things to see how this affects your goals or results. Be positive and work hard and you will find the recognition comes with this. Don’t be afraid to shout about how good you are, or how good your customers/mentors think you are!