The designer of a string of coloured beach huts at Findhorn has reacted to a barrage of criticism levelled at them following the addition of six new ones.
The line-up of 10 huts on the north-facing beach increased to 16 during February and March, and there are plans to build 14 more.
A recent post on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ForresLocal/posts/1676424889204008) drew a mostly negative response from commenters and a prediction that they would not withstand the weather and tides of the Moray Firth.
People left comments such as: “Should never have been allowed”, “suburbia”, “trashy”, “only for the wealthy” and “absolutely horrendous” with some suggesting that the winds and tide would destroy them. A few people also commented that they liked them.
Critics also questioned the £25k price tag for what one person called a “£70 shed from B&Q”.
However, agents for the Findhorn Beach Huts Company have debunked some of the myths surrounding the beach huts.
Ian Sutherland McCook, whose architectural practice designed the huts and now acts as an agent for the owners said huts at Findhorn are nothing new.
“Beach huts were in Findhorn from the late 30’s to the early 90’s, and if they were good enough for previous generations, then why not for this one?”
He added that interest for the new huts was high.
“We have noticed a very significant increase in enquiries since lockdown started a year ago, no doubt caused by people realising that in future, overseas holidays will be much less common. The combination of the pandemic and concerns over global warming, seems to have produced a strong swing away from flying and back to UK-based holidays.”
He also said they worked with a firm of specialist marine engineers from Aberdeen to ensure the buildings were able to withstand severe weather events and would last as long as a house so they could be enjoyed for generations to come.
“They’re designed to take the winds that can strike in winter on this part of the coast, and to withstand any marine flooding that might affect the site. People have been predicting for the past four years that the next strong wind or high tide will take the huts away, but there has been exceptionally severe weather in two or three of these winters, and the huts have not moved an inch.
Built to last as long as a house
“The huts in Hopeman have been there for decades in the same weather conditions, and none of them seem to have blown away or floated out to sea. Findhorn Beach Huts started with the intention that the huts should last as long as a new house, otherwise they wouldn’t make any sense as an investment.
“These huts will still be enjoyed by their great-great-grandchildren. If you bought a static caravan tomorrow for £20-25k, you would certainly get more space, but after 10 years it would have lost 50% of its value and in 15 years you would probably get nothing for it. In 10 years the beach huts will probably have increased in value by 20%.
Mr McCook described how the huts have been built to stand up to the weather conditions.
“The piles go about 1.5m into the land, with the sand around it being compacted hard by machine. A series of main beams and secondary beams are bolted to these piles to form the substructure, and the floor joists are secured to this. The floor is formed from tongue and groove boards.
“The walls are six layers thick. They start on the outside with Sadolin Supadek paint, very durable in marine environments. Below this is a high-grade Swedish redwood cladding, selected to be as knot-free as possible. Behind the cladding is a layer of breather membrane, and behind that is a layer of marine ply. Inside the marine ply is the CLS structural frame, and finally there’s an internal lining of tongue and grooved boarding. All fixings in the new huts are stainless steel and all elements are bolted to one another using the same performance standards as one would find in a new house.
Owned by local people
People also asked who they belong to and why they weren’t rented out to the locals.
Mr McCook said the huts are being bought by local people from local families: “Local people are not likely to be throwing money away on something that is poor value for money. We are a sensible region populated by sensible people.
“We always retain at least one hut for rental, but the others were sold. It is worth noting that only one purchaser is from outside the local area, and they have very strong business interests locally. All the other owners live in Moray, apart from a purchaser in Nairn and one in the Grantown-on-Spey area.
“We have always rented huts, and we continue to do so. Probably 50% of the rentals have been to local people, and the remainder to holiday visitors. Local interest in renting remains steady, and we have taken a new booking this week to someone from just a couple of miles away.”
He concluded by saying “People either like the huts or dislike them. Nothing that we say will change either of those opinions.”