Stunning new-build project in Barton, South Cambridgeshire
Brothers Oliver and Ben Wigg, ambitious thirtysomething businessmen who operate as Bowson Leeway Homes Ltd, are the brains behind this modern masterpiece.
It is their biggest project to date, having previously overseen design and construction of about 10 different properties.
A large single-storey house once occupied the site at 25 Comberton Road. However, times change and the bungalow is no more.
Instead, two spectacular new-builds – the epitome of 21st-century living – stand proudly in its place: The Arks 1 and 2.
Number one was our destination one sunny May morning (number two is not quite finished) – a three-storey house with five or six double bedrooms, four bath or shower rooms and three reception rooms.
It is on the market with Bidwells for £2.5million and offers everything the discerning homeowner could want – and more.
Starting out as plasterers, Oliver and Ben gained a great deal of experience working for a builder before deciding to go it alone.
“We thought, ‘Why are we earning money for him when we could be doing it ourselves?’” recalled Ben. “So here we are.”
Although they’ve worked on a variety of business ventures together since their teens, Ben and his older brother officially became business partners only three years ago when they set up their limited company (father Russell looks after the accounts). “We’ve always been driven to do our own thing,” said Ben.
“We’re trying to do something different around Cambridge. We believe a lot of the big boys are developing en masse, and we want to develop not en masse but quality. We’re trying to deliver leading cutting-edge design.”
It quickly becomes evident when looking around this awe-inspiring abode that Ben and Oliver have managed to do just that. Arguably one of the finest new homes ever to have been built in the Cambridge area, it is certainly one of the most impressive the Cambridge Independent has seen in its eight-month history.
The house was constructed using reclaimed bricks under reclaimed Welsh slate, boasts underfloor heating in every room downstairs (even the garage), handmade joinery and zinc roofing, and has been finished to an exceptionally high standard in all areas.
“There has been no expense spared,” said Ben, a former aerospace engineering student. “It’s got polished concrete floors throughout, two heat recovery systems... so in theory it should be quite a low-energy house. There’s a lot of glass so it gets warm anyway.
“It’s been a long time in the planning, and by the time we sell the house the whole process will have taken about four years. The planning and design took about a year, then two years to construct and then a period to sell.”
Another welcome feature is the basement, which houses a games room and gym.
“We decided that as there’s a lot of development going on around Cambridge, we’d like to do a basement because plots of land are becoming smaller and smaller,” said Ben. “If you can get a basement on there, it maximises the square footage.”
The house has evolved from its original design, with Ben and Oliver – who live in Victorian terraced houses next door to each other in Sawston (their office is also based there) – adding their own personal touches.
“The architect gives you your elevations and plans,” said Ben, “but we did some of it ourselves to keep the cost down. The garage was quite traditional-looking, for example, but we chose the materials on it and changed it to the zinc roof. We also did all the detailing around the windows.”
Ben added: “I’m actually the creative director, Olly’s the financial director. So I’ll come up with ideas concerning the joinery and that kind of thing, and Olly will drive it forward and raise the money. We work pretty well together.” For anyone wondering where the name ‘Bowson Leeway’ comes from, Ben takes up the story: “It’s actually in memory of our grandad. He was in the navy and then left and became a carpenter.
“He got us started using a saw and doing stuff at quite a young age, and he always wanted a company called Bowson Leeway. He passed away so we called it Bowson Leeway in his memory.
“He was amazed at the three terraces we built before this one, and I think if he saw this one he’d be absolutely blown away.”