Expanding the Buckland Team



At our home in Devon, our team of designers, structural engineers, project managers, carpenters and joiners all work under one roof to design, manufacture and install bespoke glulam structures.

Each new member of the team brings with them different experience and skills and having recently welcomed two new people to the team, Richard and Nic (pictured L to R), we thought we’d share a little about what brought them to us, and the fascinating projects they’ve worked on in previous employment.

richard and nic

Richard Bailey studied structural engineering at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg. He started his career at the CSIR, managing and doing timber research and while working there had the opportunity to spend a year at MIT in Boston where he studied for an MS in Management of Technology. He then was headhunted into the roofing timber industry.

In 2000 he joined Mitek in Johannesburg and spent ten years creating their galvanised steel division. The market for this product took him all over Africa, including Nigeria, Kenya and Mozambique, designing and advising on the manufacture and installation of steel roofs. Then from 2010 onwards he lived in Namibia and formed his own company distributing steel roofs in Namibia, as well as consulting on timber roofs in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. One of the steel roof projects was the Lady Pohamba Private Hospital, pictured below, where he designed, supplied and installed the roof.

lady pohamba private hospital

Lady Pohamba Private Hospital Windhoek: design and installation of steel roof structure

Before joining the Buckland team, Richard also spent time consulting and conducting forensic investigations. One of the most recent projects he worked on was a thatch and pole structure for Chobe National Park Resort in Botswana.

When it was erected, it was the largest pole structure in Southern Africa, however it had been exposed to a lot of termite damage, so Richard was brought in to investigate the damage and make suggestions for the safe improvement and repair, changes that are being implemented now.

chobe national park resort

View of the dining area with the pole truss on the left bearing down and crushing the canopy at left. 

Since Richard relocated to the UK with his family at the start of 2023 we’ve been delighted to have his expertise in timber and steel with the Buckland team. His role as Structural Engineer & Project Manager involves using his input and experience to guide customers so they get accurate quotes, drawings and information, and help with the timely delivery of complex project design and manufacture.

Nic Lepekha started his career as a design engineer, continuing to study for his masters and postgraduate. During his PhD studies at Kiev Polytechnic, Ukraine, he lectured on GD&T (Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing) of steel – focusing particularly on design, studies and production of metal parts and steel structures.

Sadly, due to the USSR 1986 Chernobyl disaster that occurred near the city of Pripyat, Nic was unable to complete the PhD without the required practical placement, however he did get the opportunity to work on several small projects around Chernobyl while based in the town of Slavutych – a city and municipality in Northern Ukraine, purpose-built for the evacuated personnel of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

This work ultimately led Nic to work on the once in a lifetime project, the new safe confinement for Chernobyl known as The Arch which started in 2007, working for a consortium of construction companies, Novarka.

He didn’t take on the role of design engineer initially, but the consortium needed someone who could both speak English, and competently manage document control at the level that was needed for a project of such scale.

Eventually Nic became the person who was involved in checking the immensely detailed 2D/3D design from the subcontractor Cimolai and supervising the assembly of the onsite construction.

the arch

The Arch

Installation of this project came with its own unique set of challenges. Masks, protective equipment which measured gamma rays and alpha beta particles had to be worn, certain areas such as the North wall could only be visited for less than a minute at a time due to radiation, and it was like being on a beach on a hot day all day every day!

One of the biggest challenges was that no welding was permitted anywhere onsite, as welding immediately increases radioactivity. Not only did construction take 3-4 times longer than average, the connections of beams which were as long as 24 metres had less than a 1.5mm tolerances left very little room for error in the design and installation.

Nic’s project management skills, experience and attention to detail have been hugely valuable to the Buckland team.*

We’re always interested in hearing from people who would like to work with us. From skilled carpenters and draughtsmen, to engineer and designers, do get in touch if you feel you have something to offer, or keep an eye on our vacancies page.

* Having spent 6 months supporting the Buckland team Nic is relocating and moving to a new role –we wish him the best of luck – he will be missed!