Eco architecture company puts down roots in Bristol

Green Roots E-cohaus was started in May 2017 by company director, Cerianne Thorneycroft, to help people create communities and build homes.

We caught up with Cerianne to find out more about her start up journey.

Tell us about your business

There are two elements to my business. Green Roots E-cohaus exists because we know there is a better way of building houses. According to government planning policy, self-build or custom-build houses: cost less, increase choice, are more innovative and green, are higher quality and support local trades people. The problem is, it is incredibly difficult for the majority of people to undertake a self-build alone which is where Green Roots E-cohaus come in: we are community self-build enablers bringing together groups of like-minded people to collectively find land, design their homes, gain planning permission and build their own homes.

Green Roots E-cohaus is supported by the second part of the business, Green Roots, which exists to provide architectural design services, covering the whole design process from initial consultation to on site construction drawings and project management support. In addition to practical support and guidance for self-builders, we also offer design manager services to main contractors based in Bristol under short term contracts. 

What sparked the idea for your business?

I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit so starting my own business was inevitable, it was more a question of when. After 10 years of professional experience I had a good foundation on which to build my business.

What were you doing before you started Green Roots E-cohaus?

I have worked as an Architect for three architecture practices based in Hereford and Bristol, and for the University of the West of England as client side Construction Project Manager.

In Hereford, I worked for the internationally renowned architecture practice Architype, who the first BREEAM Excellent and some of the first Passivhaus schools in the UK. In Bristol, I led the Bower Ashton Masterplan for UWE’s Art’s Campus and worked on other significant commissions within Bristol including the Breast Care and Macmillan Wellbeing Centre in the grounds of the new Southmead Hospital.

Tell us about your experience of Business West and the Start & Grow programme.

I heard about the Start and Grow programme following taking part in a business accelerator programme called Entrepreneurial Spark. I hoped to gain valuable business support and increase my contact network in Bristol through use of the networking breakfasts and other opportunities. 

I’m pleased to say the outcome has exceeded my expectations, especially the 1-2-1 business support which I have so far received from Jane Purdy. I have also attended many Chamber of Commerce business breakfasts which I have access to as a member of Business West. I feel that the programme has accelerated my access to events and opportunities which I otherwise would not have benefited from this early on in the company.

There is no doubt that the networking events have increased my contacts network in Bristol with organisations outside of my industry, which is important with business to customer services. Regular 1-2-1s has also helped to focus my business, which I may have taken longer to do on my own.

Tell us about your plans for Green Roots E-cohaus in the future, do you plan to employ staff or expand your services?

My growth plan focuses largely on the Green Roots E-cohaus side of the business which will seek continuous growth over the next five years. The architectural services side of the business will continue to support the housing arm during its growth. The main focus for Green Roots E-cohaus is to build a pilot project which will be the catalyst for growth. 

I also plan to take on up to 3 permanent members of staff by May 2019 and I’m currently considering business premises alongside a satellite office approach, to allow staff to avoid rush hour in Bristol and work their job around family care requirements.

Find out more about Green Roots E-cohaus on their website.

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