AF’s Building team supports Holkham Estate in their latest building project

building work at holkham estates


The AF Building department is made up of four experienced team members: Darren, Richard, Phil and Steve. With a combined experience of building materials totaling close to 100 years, they’re rarely faced with a question they’re unable to answer.

“We’ve all ‘done our time’ in various builder’s merchants.” says Darren, head of the department. “Dealing with farmers means the scope of products they use extends beyond the stock of your average builder’s merchant. One minute we could be dealing with a lorry load of concrete, then the next call could be enquiring after a £100k grain store!”

The team are also used to dealing with large building projects, whether it’s a new farm shop or a small development of new builds – like their work with Holkham Estates. “There will always be members that want to diversify their business and these projects inevitably involve building materials – that’s where we come in” says Richard, Business Development Manager. “We always encourage any member undertaking any type of building work to contact the building team as early on in the project as possible. That way, we can give them an indication of where will be able to help save them the most time and money” Richard added.

Rik Potter, Holkham Estates Site Manager, explained how working with AF for their latest build has saved the valuable commodity of time, as well as seeing the membership fee pay dividends.

Hi Rik, what’s your role at Holkham?
My role is to manage each construction site, creating bespoke, sustainable dwellings of the best possible quality. I’m accountable for the safe and efficient delivery of this project by using local resource wherever possible and the skills of our employers, contractors and suppliers alike.

Tell us a bit about the background of the project
The site is in Burnham Thorpe, 1.5 miles from the popular village of Burnham Market. It’s famous for being the birthplace of Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, victor at the Battle of Trafalgar and one of Britain’s greatest heroes

The plot comprises of four detached dwellings, each individually designed with a mixture of modern and traditional living. There are two detached properties, which will be sold, and two semi-detached which will be let. Each property has been designed and finished to exceptional standard and are in keeping with the style of other properties in the village. The feature stone walls are a mixture of chalk, brick headers and flint. The doors and windows are all made from Swedish Pine. This timber is usually bought in bulk and stored in one of our barns with a natural airflow to dry. Every inch thick of wood takes a whole year to dry.

Craftsmanship, sustainability and quality finish are at the heart of everything we do and this site is no exception. We have used recycled and recyclable materials where possible and initiated greener practices and technologies to maximise the efficiency of these homes.

When do you anticipate completion of the site?
The project is on schedule to be completed by Spring 2021.

How long has Holkham Estate been an AF member?
The Estate has been a member for six years and uses many services across the AF business.

What measurable benefits have you seen so far by using AF for this project?
This is my first project since joining Holkham and I feel very lucky to have such an excellent group who can source virtually anything at the best possible price using their vast buying power. The biggest saving would be time – having just one point of contact to source many materials and manage delivery has been essential to the efficient delivery of this project.

What is the biggest benefit of using the AF Group?

Cost on many of the materials and undoubtedly the one point of contact for multiple suppliers.

How much contact have you had with AF’s dedicated building team?
I speak to Richard (Business Development Manager) most days and nothing is too much trouble. His communication and customer service skills have been very helpful and I’ve been really impressed with his passion in sourcing local materials.

Will you use AF for future projects & would you recommend us?
Yes, definitely, on both counts. I have developed a good working relationship with Richard and the service has been very efficient. The saving on both time and cost of materials far outweighs the cost of membership. In my previous role I didn’t have access to a buying group and can’t recommend the benefits enough.

What do you love about working at Holkham Estate?
I was very lucky to have 19 years with Carters, another fantastic local company who believed that great projects need great people. Holkham also has this ethos and strive to create a happy workplace where its people feel valued and respected. I can honestly say this is the case and this has made the transition a smooth one.

Strong working relationships are really important to me. I make sure that I know everyone on a first name basis and I take a genuine interest in other peoples’ lives. My job title is the same as in my previous role but my responsibilities are more diverse. I’m very much enjoying getting to know the business and the people I work with. I can honestly say that I come to work with a smile, I have a great team around me who have made me feel very welcome and I am very much looking forward to developing my career with Holkham.

If you are planning or undertaking a building project then don’t hesitate to contact the building team on 01603 881914 or email your enquiry to

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