Carpenter provides haven for eco-conscious families

Rob McFagan, a young carpenter, is combining modern manufacturing with 16th century construction skills to build traditional shepherd’s huts for people looking to live off-grid.

As the cost of living crisis deepens, Rob and the team at Holmes Hill Shepherds Huts have been working 24/7 to meet the demand for the latest in low cost, high-tech living accommodation.


Rob McFagan founded Holmes Hill Shepherds Huts in 2019, aged just 21

Rob formed the company in 2019 and with no formal carpentry training, built his first commercial timber-framed shepherd’s hut as a labour of love aged 21.

From building that first hut, in a rented marquee on an industrial estate in East Sussex, Rob has moved to a 3,200sq.ft unit to craft more of the iconic rumbling wagons that used to roll through the UK’s country lanes and fields.

His love of timber and working with wood goes back to his childhood, when aged five, he made models from wood offcuts and dowels of his favourite steamship Titanic and the Herald of Free Enterprise, a roll-on/roll-off ferry that capsized in 1987.


“I remember loving the feel, texture and smell of the timber,” said Rob. “I still get that buzz today from working with wood, particularly softwoods. There's nothing like anticipating what you can achieve when a new delivery of stock timber arrives at the unit.

“My colleagues would say my love of softwood borders on the obsessive, but what’s not to love? It’s natural, sustainable, inexpensive and clean to work with.”

Built on four iron wheels and with corrugated iron tops, little has changed in the traditional timber-built hut's exterior appearance. Originally, they were handcrafted by skilled carpenters to be used as a practical place for shepherds and farmers to shelter and stay over while raising sheep and guarding flocks.


“In recent years, shepherd’s huts have become the go-to-choice for a bespoke home office or work studio, upmarket glamping accommodation, children’s play den or cosy garden room,” explains Rob. “But we’re seeing a marked increase in the number of enquiries for huts with a more practical use as living accommodation that won’t become a long-term money pit.

“With the cost of goods in the UK increasing faster than household incomes and homeowners struggling to make mortgage repayments, many are turning to a more cost-effective way of living – one that doesn’t require a mortgage or a year’s salary just to pay the utility bills.”

One such example is a Sussex family who were facing a costly and undesired move after planning permission for an extension was refused. The solution to finding an extra bedroom for one of their teenage sons was to buy a shepherd’s huts. He now has his own space in which to sleep, study and store his things.


“A Shepherd’s Hut ticks all the right boxes. They're bespoke and built to offer the owner an off-grid, self-sufficient lifestyle, with solar panels to power the electrics, composting toilet system and en-suite bathroom, a water heater that runs on a gas cylinder and a wood log burner for heat. I’m currently working on a design for a couple who've just bought a small plot of woodland on which they want to locate a shepherd’s hut.”v

Using the money from his first few commissions, Rob invested in new woodworking tools and state-of-the-art technology to visualise the custom-built huts his clients envisaged. And in just three years, Rob and his team have built more than 60 shepherd’s huts.


“Through a combination of responsible material resourcing, the latest computer technology and skilled workmanship, we're able to produce products to a very high spec and from just £25,000, they offer a real alternative to traditional houses,” adds Rob.


For more information on Holmes Hill Shepherds Huts, visit

Holmes Hill Shepherds Huts
Unit 7a Holmes Hill Estate, Holme's Hill
Lewes BN8 6JA
01825 280 488