Building on success

Building on success

For someone who left school at 16, Andrew Mann, who is now 31 and Managing Director of Clarity Homes and Commercial, has proved that deep-rooted ambition and inherent business acumen can certainly match any traditional educational qualifications.

“After I finished my GCSEs I decided to do a carpentry apprenticeship,” Andrew tells me as we sit down to chat in the site office at one of the many properties his company is currently working on. 

This particular one is an impressive reconstruction of an original Dutch barn on Course Lane in Cranbrook which is currently being transformed into three luxury four-bedroom homes overlooking a beautiful wild meadow.



“We’re working on this with Grey Feather Development and Kent Design Studio Architects and Maddisons Residential are marketing it,” explains Andrew, whose company specialises in providing first-class project management for property developers, architects and commercial property managers across the South East.

So how did the 16-year-old carpentry apprentice find himself running a hugely successful construction business which earlier this year saw him winning a Times Business Award for Entrepreneur of the Year?

“I’ve always been very driven in life,” reveals Andrew. “I decided to train as a carpenter as my dad was one but before I even qualified I was getting business cards made up and thinking about how I could drive something forward. I used to get laughed at if I spoke up in college saying I wanted to do better in life but I’ve always had a clear vision of what I wanted to achieve.”

Andrew initially started working in 2008 and could easily see the potential for growing a carpentry business beyond the domestic sector. 

“My dad is a very skilled carpenter but he was more than happy doing price jobs. However, I saw the opportunuty to set up and develop my own business. I’ve always loved reading career manuals and entrepreneurs’ stories so I was keen to start building my own business.

“I started driving forward, doing the pricing and developing so we were also getting new commercial clients as well as expanding our residential work.”




Andrew says that as the years went on he continued to develop and expand his business, which at the time was called A Mann Building.

“I got a van, and invested in branded clothing and had a couple of guys working for me. By then my team and I were mostly carrying out commercial work for big developers, doing office fitouts around the country in places such as Oxford, York, London and Wales.

“At that time I was working seven days a week doing the business’s commercial jobs Monday to Friday, then fitting in local work at the weekends. Any free time I had was spent sleeping!”

Andrew tells me that his big first goal was to buy a house by the time he was 21. No mean feat given he’d only started working at 18 and although he didn’t quite reach that target, due to reasons beyond his control, Andrew did it just two years later.

“By then we’d expanded into doing much more than just carpentry jobs. We were doing kitchens, bathrooms and extensions in the residential sector but we were also doing big jobs for the commercial market too.

“I was organising plumbers, decorators, tilers, electricians and then we went into doing extensions, so I was managing ground workers and bricklayers too. This meant I quickly gained invaluable experience in being able to manage everything and anything.”

Around about the same time Andrew says he and his wife started to think about having kids. “I wanted to cut back on work, but ironically I ended up working more!” he laughs.




Having rebranded as Clarity Homes and Commercial in April 2021, Andrew and his team now specialise mainly in commercial jobs such as large-scale cladding remediation, new builds, and architecturally sensitive developments such as the aforementioned Dutch barn in Cranbrook. The company also has a number of residential projects on its books including full refurbishments, extensions and cosmetic updates.

Andrew came ‘off the tools’ a few years ago in order to concentrate solely on developing the business even further. Now Clarity Homes and Commercial offers bespoke services designed to make life straightforward and stress-free for property professionals, including architects, developers, and commercial managers.

“We understand all the challenges and goals associated with commissioned projects and we’re therefore committed to making them not just an aesthetic success but a financial one too,” states Andrew.

He adds that this has all been made possible, not just by the skilled workers Clarity Homes and Commercial boasts, but due to having a solid infrastructure behind every plan, and the foresight to invest in innovative technology.

“Traditionally this is not something most builders would be doing but we are always looking to the future to see how technology can help enhance what we offer.”




Successful software includes a clever Project Management app that Andrew has invested in so clients can see in just a few simple taps how their build is progressing and whether their budget is on track.

“As we now manage everything on our projects – both residential and commercial – we are committed to ensuring customers are up to speed with everything. With the app we can also put schedules on and send images and clients can comment too.

“The idea for doing this came from me typing up weekly updates on a Friday night, going though costings so there was no confusion over prices, but it was so labour intensive! I’ve always wanted to be clear with clients about everything but I thought there must be a software solution out there, that could help. Most building businesses aren’t looking at how tech can help them, but we are. We had the foresight to invest in this particular app so we can bring our clients as much clarity to their project as possible.”

And that’s the thinking behind the company’s name too. “We decided to rebrand from A Mann Building and as a result were trying to think of ideas for names. We spoke about what we do which is to try to bring things clearer – hence coming up with the name Clarity. Essentially, we want to be the opposite of unreliable builders who might do a runner or let a budget spiral out of control. We are committed to delivering projects on time and on budget, with razor sharp attention to detail.

“It’s about transparency and bringing construction into the future. We have our sights set higher, as I can see what we can be achieved with good planning and clever investment in tech. We will never leave clients in the lurch. We will always work our hardest to get the job done – and I take personal responsibility for that.”




It’s clear that ‘Clarity’ also refers to the relationships Andrew cultivates with his clients and with his team.

“A year before Covid, I started to work with some business experts who were able to mentor me about running a business and investing in staff. I learnt that this is not a cost, it’s actually an investment.”

This expert guidance led Andrew to appointing a full-time admin assistant and very quickly they went from working in his tiny garden office to a couple of rented offices, before securing their own premises in Crowborough.

Andrew now employs seven full-time staff to work across all Clarity projects as well as a variety of part-time quantity surveyors and a team of both freelance and employed workers.

“I love seeing what others have done in the business community and then I try to make things better for our teams. I didn’t realise how helpful I was with the staff until we spoke about it. They told me that I had a very flexible attitude towards them, but the truth is if you work hard then of course you can take time out if you have to take a child to the doctor’s.

“That kind of communication in the construction world is like a new era in itself as traditionally people don’t talk – it’s always been a predominantly male and macho industry. I truly believe that things need to change in terms of the way people treat each other – and are treated – especially when companies get a lot bigger, you’re just a number then.

“We recently discovered that if you’re working in construction there’s a higher chance of committing suicide than in any other sector. I think 98 people in the industry were lost last year. I grew up in construction and saw a lot of things happen and I have also personally dealt with anxiety in the past, but I got help for it thanks to West Kent Mind.”

Andrew says that’s a key reason why he is working with the mental health charity, offering his staff the opportunity to talk to specialists if they need to. He is also running a virtual marathon on October 2 – the same day as the London Marathon – in order to raise vital funds for West Kent Mind, which since lockdown has seen demand for its services surge.

“With West Kent Mind, we’re letting everyone have the opportunity to chat. If we can help anyone then it’s worth it.”

Of the colloboration West Kent Mind says: “We are delighted and excited to be partnering with Clarity Homes and Commerical. The team will be raising funds for West Kent Mind in a variety of ways and we look forward to supporting them every step of the way! This begins with Andrew taking on the Virtual London Marathon on October 2 – quite literally going the extra mile! The funds raised through this partnership will make a real difference in the local community, helping people experiencing mental ill health to get well, stay well and thrive.”

But Andrew’s pioneering approach to doing business doesn’t just stop there. He says he also wants to employ as many people as possible to give as much stability as he can.

“As a result we’ve got a very low turnover of plasterers, tilers, electricians and ground workers etc so there is always consistency on jobs. They know they’re getting paid and therefore we know the jobs will be done well.”




Currently Clarity has three commercial projects on the go: the aforementioned Dutch barn development, a full refurbishment on a house in Rochester and a cladding job in London.

In terms of residentials, the company has five on its books at the moment, ranging from full restructures to carrying out extensions.

Andrew tells me that he is keen to further develop the commercial side of the business as he and his staff can benefit from these kinds of projects really well.

“We usually do a lot of work with architects and developers as we manage everything on a project and can therefore save them money thanks to our expertise and practical knowledge. We can suggest alternatives they might not have thought of. It’s all very collaborative – and that doesn’t happen that often in our line of work.

“Kent Design Studio will often refer us for other jobs. They know we’re reliable and will never let anyone down.”

As our chat nears its end Andrew adds that he was once asked at a business networking event what he thought his ‘big why’ was in life.

“I answered that it’s my wife and kids. I want to show them that anything is possible. That’s my biggest driver in life.”

It goes without saying that Andrew’s children obviously have a great mentor in their father – but now equally so does the world of construction…

What Clarity Homes & Commercial offers...

Clarity Homes & Commerical provide professional building and construction services to support architects, property developers and commercial property managers to turn their visions into reality, maximising return on investment on property portfolios.

Core services include:

Construction: Complete new-build solutions

Commercial renovations: Large-scale projects, such as re-cladding

Project Management: Effective project management to ensure projects are delivered on time and on budget

Property development: Partnering with other property professionals to realise commercially attractive projects


Clarity Homes & Commercial’s current projects:

Course Horn Barn, Cranbrook

“We were thrilled to become a part of this ambitious and inspiring project and are currently transforming this cavernous Dutch barn into three luxury countryside properties. We are working with the existing steel frame of the historic barn, which will give the development a beautiful, rounded roof and great proportions. Each home will have a private garden, designated parking, four bedrooms, open-plan kitchen-dining with utility, pantry, and shared ecology gardens.”


Refurb central, Tunbridge Wells

“This was a rewarding but challenging extension and full refurbishment project. It all began with a very basic design in this ambitious project and so Clarity Homes and Commercial worked directly with the homeowner to deliver the ultimate extension. We drew on our wide-ranging experience to guide them through the project, offering valuable advice where required and ensuring we avoided the pitfalls often involved in a complicated building extension.”

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter