The firm – formerly known as Banyard & Houchell– was founded by Gavin ‘Happy’ Houchell and Reg Banyard in 1933, and at its peak employed 156 full-time members of staff including bricklayers, plasterers, electricians, plumbers, roofers, ground-workers, painters and decorators, general labourers and a team of mechanics to maintain the fleet of vehicles which supported them.
Gavin had trained as a bricklayer, and worked for himself from a site in Sutton until he was joined by Reg - a carpenter - when they relocated to Woodbridge. The firm was known locally for its housebuilding, both for private clients and local councils, as well as wartime construction and reparation work, the repair and restoration of numerous local historic buildings and work for Atomic Energy on Orford Ness.
Following Reg’s departure in 1964, Gavin took sole ownership of the firm until his death in 1982.
Gavin’s son David brought a new set of skills and experience to the firm, having worked for 15 years as an architectural technician and draftsman at Suffolk Coastal District Council before setting up his own building design and planning consultancy - David Houchell Ltd - in 1979. Sharing premises with the building firm meant David was able to continue his consultancy work whilst overseeing the firm’s re-establishment, and subsequent transition to Houchell Ltd.