It’s all about integrity.
The stark, polarising changes we’ve all had to deal with during Spring/Summer 2020 have provided many of us with the opportunity for reflection, perhaps leading to a review of our lifestyles, our values, our aspirations…
I’ve spent a fair bit of time thinking about my own family situation and why Ian and I decided to start Dart Developments, amazingly over 20 years (and three kids) ago now!
With a background in agriculture, one year Ian decided to take on the conversion of a redundant old stone barn on the family farm.
It was a massive learning curve, presented many challenges, but the eventual satisfaction of having renovated a beautiful, if useless, old building into a unique new home, lit a fire of enthusiasm that was the catalyst for launching our small, quality build company just a few years later.
We had ambition too! So passionate were we, our aim was to become one of the best barn conversion specialists in Devon.
That of course, is subjective but we are nevertheless immensely proud of what we’ve achieved.
Several years ago we were awarded The Michelmore Property Award for Best Small Development for our work on the Grade II listed Churston Court Farm (pictures on our website).
Two of our barn conversions were also featured recently in the same episode of Escape to the Country – we nearly choked on our cocoa!
And what’s made us successful?
I’d say three major points.
- Location – we are very, very choosy!
- Quality of design and build – it’s second to no other barn conversion work that we know of, and
- Customer Service – something we take very seriously.
Those of you who have already bought from us will know that we give freely of our time to customers both before and after they’ve moved in.
With some buyers moving to the area for the first time, additional support is often appreciated and we are always flexible and ready to assist in many different ways – it’s just a case of picking up the phone and we’re there (because we care).
So why has our business remained a small, family concern?
Partly so that we can provide the level of customer service mentioned above but converting barns is complicated, a labour of love… it’s sometimes like trying to push a square peg in a round hole when it comes to making the best living space within an existing building with limited windows!
Our small, experienced team has been together for a long time and we only work on one project at a time to ensure that we get it right. On the preservation side, you can’t just knock out new openings to suit.
Neither would you want to turf out the existing natural residents (owls, bats, other birds) as you please… they are all rehomed on site within specially integrated ‘boxes’ with the help of ecology experts.
It’s all about integrity really.
We are passionate about the history and the nostalgia of these old buildings so the hard work is always worth the end result when you pack up tools on the final day and know you have completed high quality, sustainable new homes that sit in their environment as seamlessly as possibly.
Why the South Hams?
To date we have completed over 100 barn conversions, mostly scattered around the South Hams, which is an area on the South Devon coast including the towns and surrounding areas of Kingsbridge, Salcombe, Dartmouth, Totnes, and Ivybridge.
We choose to live and work here as we consider it one of the most beautiful, unspoilt rural havens in England. And it’s not just us… the South Hams has often been mentioned in surveys for being among the most popular places to live for quality of life.
With the pressures of modern day living, increasing populations and now we have to add the risk of pandemics to that list(!), many people are inevitably looking to escape the larger towns and cities.
Studies have long proven that the peacefulness of a more rural life reduces anxiety, promotes calm, happiness and well being. Just sitting in the countryside and being able to hear the birdsong, turn your face to the sun and breathe the fresh air… it does you the power of good.
Moving to the South Hams often makes it more feasible for people to enjoy pet ownership, particularly dogs who enjoy the moorland and coastal walks as much as their owners do! We have sold many new homes to people moving to the area from further afield.
Conversing with them months or years after purchase, they express having been blown away by the rich and diverse countryside they have discovered around them, from the remoteness of Dartmoor National Park to the quaint charm of Noss Mayo and the abundance of unspoilt beaches. There are plenty of artisans here too! Organic farm shops and food producers, artists inspired by their surroundings… it’s a way of life.
All this, and yet the two South Devon cities of Plymouth and Exeter are both well within commutable distance.
I feel blessed to have been able to raise our family in this part of the World and blessed again that we can continue to provide beautiful, bespoke homes enabling others to live here too.
Picture (The Dennis Family at home!)