Building Brighid: Q&A with Owner/Host, Roddy

When you book a stay on the Isle of Lewis at Brighid there's a good chance you'll be in contact with the owner, Roddy, who'll help coordinate arrival times, access and give directions as needed.

As Brighid approaches its two year anniversary of being open for bookings, we caught up with him to talk about the origins of Brighid, the design process and the self-build journey.

Brighid holiday home - work in progress photograph
Work in Progress — Brighid, mid-build

Can you tell us about you, and where the initial idea for building Brighid came about?

I grew up in the village of Melbost Borve. My mother and father came from the village with my mother growing up in the croft house behind Brighid. She still lives in our family home about a mile from the house.

They worked the croft that Brighid sits on and many times I thought when growing up it would be great to have a house here to look at the view. Many years later I was in the position to do so and decided it was now or never...

You worked closely with Brown & Brown architects on developing the house — what did you learn while working with them?

I’ve worked in the property industry all my career, starting as a Joiner/Carpenter, and now work as a Chartered Surveyor/Project Manager — so I’m familiar with the industry. I specifically wanted an Architect that was sympathetic to the design vernacular of the island and when I came across Andrew and his team I knew they would be the right fit.

Andrew previously worked on commissions on the west coast of Scotland and I was more than happy to give him freedom to come up with the right design for this house. We went through a few ideas but, testament to Andrew, the design for Brighid evolved very quickly and we agreed on a design within weeks.

I think it fits so well into the landscape and blends with the black lewisian gneiss rock on the shore nearby. I took the build stage forward from the design but Andrew was a phone call away whenever I got stuck or when he had to convince me to stick with a design detail when my project manager head was trying to save some money!


"I'm also really proud of the amount of couples that have chosen our place for their honeymoon. That is just amazing!"


This May (2024) will mark the second anniversary of Brighid being open for guest bookings. How would you sum up the experience so far?

I initially thought I'd get about 5-10 bookings in year #1 and maybe double that in year #2. The reality has been to double that again.

What maybe sets us aside from others is our flexibility. We work with a fantastic changeover person who runs her own business and is flexible on dates.

We are also very aware we live on an island and sometimes your plans are disrupted by travel issues or the weather. For this reason we don't hold deposits if things go wrong. If you can't get to the island, its not your fault so we offer a no-quibble cancellation. I always think ‘what would I appreciate in that situation’ and an understanding host goes a long way.

I'm really proud of the feedback we have received. Our 5-star reviews and the effort and time people put into those reviews are very humbling. I'm also really proud of the amount of couples that have chosen our place for their honeymoon. That is just amazing!

Isle of Lewis coastline
The beautiful Lewis coastline at Melbost Borve

You completed a huge amount of the work, particularly internally, yourself — what are you most proud of in the house?

I work and live in Aberdeen, which is on the wrong side of Scotland from the Isle of Lewis — but with my skill set I thought I cant let someone else build the house — so I decided I would manage and take on the majority of the build with help from other trades along the way.

This sounded great on paper, but the reality was many (many!) ferry trips mixed with our not-so-reliable weather and a global pandemic — which made for a few moments of doubt if i did the right thing.

I wanted to incorporate an element of island life into the design and that is to 'make-do and mend'. I had a Scandinavian / mid-century theme for the house so during spells of being back in Aberdeen I managed to source some original mid-century chairs and restore them with Harris Tweed. The kitchen table was an old barn door before I added legs.

The free-standing bath did take a bit of convincing and, as mentioned above, was one of my project manager cost-saving thoughts but Andrew (Brown) was right to convince me to keep it. It is pretty cool, and guests love it.

In the end, I'm very proud of everything about Brighid.

What's your top recommendation to guests when they ask about places to visit and things to do?

I've had a few reviews and comments from guests saying they just didn't want to leave the house during their whole stay! The ocean waves are mesmerising and you could spend hours just watching them.

The beaches on Lewis and Harris are always recommended. On a wild day or a summer evening they are worth a visit.

Stornoway Black Pudding is also an absolute must for the foodies among you!

If someone reading this is considering completing their own self-build holiday let, what crucial advice would you give them?

Don't build it on an island on the opposite side of the country!

Seriously though, my best advice is to offer something that is unique. There are hundreds of thousands of self-catering places to choose from but offer a space that people want to experience and they will book.

Thinking of booking a trip to Lewis and Harris? Find out more about Brighid and upcoming availability in the coming months.

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