For Mike Parsley and Ryan Morris going to work every day is about more than running a business - it is a way of life.

Both were working as joiners for a company in Kendal before they decided to start building and selling luxury wooden lodges as a side business.

As they picked up more and more construction and renovation jobs they founded their own company Shire Homes, which specialises in high end conservation work involving bespoke joinery, stonework and lime, employing around 14 people, as well as a number of subcontractors.

Originally a farmer by trade, Mike based the business at his farm in Roundthwaite, near Tebay but it moved to its current premises in Kendal in 2020. In April they opened their own woodworking workshop opposite their offices on Kendal’s Mintsfeet Estate.

The addition of the joinery workshop, overseen by experienced workshop joiner Craig Carradus, has enabled them to produce everything including ornate archways, staircases, doors and any other wooden features customers require.

Shire Homes’ work has included renovations of a 17th century farm cottage, work on a new function room at Gowbarrow Hall Farm on the shores of Ullswater, and conversion of the former coaching inn at Low Borrowbridge Farm, near Tebay, complete with insulated lime plaster, air source heat pumps and breathable limecrete floors.

Sometimes their work can turn up the unexpected, for example, revealing a 12-foot deep well during renovation work on a property in Grasmere, which they subsequently incorporated into the final design by covering it with glass as part of a wine cellar.

The materials which they work with often hark back to traditional building methods, including the use of lime. The nature of the work means Shire Homes is usually working for customers who are focused mainly on the quality of the work rather than the time it takes and the final cost.

“The average refurb will take nine months and with the conservation work some of them will take 12,” said Mike.

“They always say that farming is a way of life, but conservation work on old buildings is as well. It becomes your baby and you have to treat it like that. If you’re not interested in your work then there is no point doing it."