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the oakwrights story

OUR STORY

A TIMELINE OF FUN, INNOVATION AND A REAL PASSION FOR OAK FRAMING

 

I thought it would be good to write a brief story of Oakwrights and how this small family company came to be and how it has grown to be one of the leading oak framing companies in the UK. When the idea for a company is born there is a lot of excitement and that was certainly the case for Oakwrights. Tim Crump and Nick Price could not have been further away from each other in character, but both had a passion for Oak framed buildings; their different approaches to the challenges of setting up a new company seemed to work very well. Nicks academic approach linked with Tim’s can-do will-do approach helped to build a strong team that grew from the initial handful of six people to a company over seventy strong in 2012. People have come and gone but most who join stay and each year our product has grown in quality along with the service to our customers. 

There is a great sense of pleasure building a company that designs and builds beautiful oak framed houses that we know will stand for many centuries to come. Still to this day I find the best fun and most satisfying part of any project is being out with the team erecting an oak frame. When I cast my mind back over the Oakwrights story, realising just how much had happened and been achieved, I thought it easiest to lay it out in chronological order as a timeline of achievement.

Tim Crump

tim crump, oakwrights

1991

 

In 1991 Tim was lucky to be one of the final intakes of students to gain the Advanced City and Guilds Carpentry and Joinery certification. Tim has always been very proud of having a craft qualification that directly links to the business that he created and runs. After passing his City and Guilds, Tim embarked upon a carpentry career in rural Herefordshire. The landscape is full of historic oak framed buildings and it was whilst repairing these houses that the seeds were sown for starting a company to build new green oak framed houses.

 

Read about our Academy of High Performance Craft here for information about learning the skills required to build an oak framed home.

 

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qualified carpenters
ideas for creating oak framed buildings

1999

 

In 1999, Nick Price joined Tim with the idea of setting up an oak frame house building company. This idea came to fruition when Oakwrights was created and incorporated in that very same year. Tim: ‘Working out of a farm building at Wharton Court, we started to develop our ideas for creating oak framed buildings. Our first project was a small and simple extension to an oak framed cottage just outside Ledbury, Herefordshire. While simple, this little building set us on our green oak framing path. ’

2000 - TERRY RUTTY JOINS OAKWRIGHTS


One of the great finds in those early days of Oakwrights was Terry Rutty. Terry had a fantastic eye for the design of traditional oak frame buildings and really helped to place the young company in a great position to offer a high quality service. The very first traditional manor house that Oakwrights built was designed by Terry. With the fledgling company up and running, times were exciting and busy. To help with the accuracy of production, Oakwrights purchased their first computer software from Archicad. This software gave us the ability to design in 3D, which really helped to envisage how oak frames would look once completed; before fabrication had started. ’

This software gave us the ability to design oak frames in 3D
traditional oak frame house
structural oak frame detail

2001

 

In 2001 Oakwrights moved to The Lakes; eventually converting the home where Tim was brought up, into the main office space. Initially a portacabin was used as to operate from. The main advantage of this move was the construction of a 100 X 40ft workshop in which was installed an overhead crane to make the movement of oak much easier. Within this workshop was created a line of woodworking machines. These made the cutting of joints, once the setting out had been finalised, much easier. The machine line consisted of: A large free standing chain morticer A pillar drill for drilling peg holes A large Bosser & Guess pendulum cross cut saw (capable of cutting 200mm). The first Mafel tennoning machine brought into the UK. Laser cutting line and very accurate.

 

Tim: ‘All of the above machines were connected by a 90ft roller bed. The additional efficiency that this line gave to our production, linked with the overhead crane was tremendous and little did we realise but it gave us the gentle beginning in our quest for the ultimate production system. ’ ‘On our workshop we used Kingspan Tek panels and went onto erect the first Kingspan Tek house which was used on the Kingspan Tek promotional video. ’

the beginnings of oakwrights site in hereford
Hundegger K2 CNC joinery machine

K2 INSTALLED


With a desire to supply the very best quality and service for their clients, Oakwrights became the first company in the UK to invest in a Hundegger K2 CNC joinery machine; to be used solely for the manufacture of bespoke oak framed houses. Along with the K2 came the new four side planer, that would also take the arrises off the timber. The combination of these two machines gave Oakwrights the ability to give a more contemporary looking oak frame with the option to sandblast if the more rustic look was desired. To complement the K2 machine Oakwrights also invested in four Dietrich’s software packages required to produce the machine files to run the K2. Also in 2002, Darren Blackwell joined Terry to increase the architectural design team. Darren has gone on to design some of Oakwrights most striking projects.

2003

 

BILL KEIR JOINS OAKWRIGHTS


2003 was the year that Bill Keir joined Oakwrights as General Manager. Bill was one of the original early carpenters who helped to re-introduce oak frame carpentry into the UK. Bill brought a tremendous depth of knowledge from working and directing some of the most prestigious oak frame projects carried out in the UK up to this point. 2003 also saw Pete Tonks and John Williams join the architectural design team, yet again strengthening our design service with their individual styles and character. Nick Price, Tim’s co director, launched the Oakwrights 200 page Design Book with a full description of how to set forth on your oak frame self-build route. The book also contained over fifty plans of oak framed houses that Oakwrights had already designed for clients in the four years since the company was formed.

Bill Keir joins Oakwrights as General Manager
Oakwrights acquired a full Dietrich’s software package

Oakwrights acquired a full Dietrich’s software package, giving the company unlimited license on use and a twice yearly training programme. This unlimited package enabled Oakwrights to plan for regular growth in the oak frame design team.

2005

 

With the full software design package acquired the previous year, Oakwrights took on the renovation of an old barn next to the main office at Swainshill to create a space for the ever expanding Design Team. This building created a downstairs office with five workspaces for the Project Management team. Upstairs, ten more workspaces were generated, giving the Design Team the space it needed to respond to high demand. This additional space also gave Oakwrights the opportunity to create a training programme, enabling the company to take on two new trainee frame designers per year.

the ever expanding Design Team at oakwrights
Roland Horwood takes over as Frame Design Manager and implements the Oakwrights Training Programme for oak frame designers

2006

 

Roland Horwood takes over as Frame Design Manager and implements the Oakwrights Training Programme for oak frame designers. Roland’s training programme works on bringing carpenters through from the workshop floor and training them in the use of the Dietrich’s software that links directly to the Hundegger K2 machine.

 

Also in this year, full patent is gained for Oakwrights 3i Infill Panel System along with TRADA certification enabling Oakwrights traditional panels to be used with NHBC projects.

Oakwrights Show Home, The Woodhouse, opens its doors

Oakwrights Show Home, The Woodhouse, opens its doors allowing self-builders the opportunity to experience living in an oak framed house. The Try Before You Buy experience is a first for the UK. With its warm open plan layout, incorporating Oakwrights Natural wall and roof system, The Woodhouse quickly becomes incredibly popular. Oakwrights are proud to gain Best Company to work for status. Oakwrights hold their first CPD day for architects who would like to gain a further understanding of working with Oak.

Oakwrights create a large new machine workshop on a new site, not far from the main office. The workshop is 120ft x 80ft and there are two 80ft overhead cranes installed for lifting and moving large packs of timber. A founding Oakwrights belief is that with all production operations, generous workspace leads to greater efficiency and a higher quality product; in this case the Oakwrights oak frame. The biggest step of the year was the commissioning of a new Hundegger K2i beam processing machine to go into the aforementioned space. Tim: ‘From our knowledge of the original K2 we were now in a position to specify and commission the most advanced heavy beam processing machine in the world. We had a third chamfering head fitted, which was a first for Hundegger, and once again increased Oakwrights ability to produce higher quality oak frames for our clients. ’

Oakwrights create a large new machine workshop on a new site, near the main office
John Williams won the Homebuilding & Renovating ‘Daily Telegraph Award’ for Best Traditional Design for an Oakwrights house in Norfolk

2008

 

With the size of the new machine workshop, Oakwrights were now able to install both Hundeggers into the same workshop, yet again increasing efficiency. To cap off 2008, John Williams won the Homebuilding & Renovating ‘Daily Telegraph Award’ for Best Traditional Design for an Oakwrights house in Norfolk. This was a satisfying reward and showed that the Oakwrights Country Contemporary design style was being well received. We also gained The Sussex Heritage Trust award for the Richard Hope project.

tj crump oakwrights
Steves knowledge of oak frame design enabled him to bring a level of unprecedented accuracy to our enclosure system design

2009

 

Steve Laws takes on role to lead panel design team With the country contemporary look becoming ever more popular and in turn the panel systems that were available to encapsulate the oak frames, Oakwrights felt that the time had come for a dedicated team to look after panel design. Steve Laws, a very experienced oak frame designer, stepped up to the mark to take on the role as team leader.

Tim: Steves knowledge of oak frame design enabled him to bring a level of unprecedented accuracy to our enclosure system design. This accuracy gave us the confidence to investigate the potential of manufacturing large format jumbo panels that would assist with air tightness on houses. It actually takes as long, if not longer, to design an accurate enclosure system as it does to design a good looking oak frame. For the second year on running, an Oakwrights oak frame comes out on top in the Homebuilding & Renovating Daily Telegraph Design Awards.

2010

 

2010 and Oakwrights launch the Try Before You Buy brochure, giving details and information to potential visitors about The Woodhouse, Oakwrights show home and The Woodhouse Range. The Woodhouse gives self-builders the opportunity to stay in an oak framed house that wins Five Star Accreditation and a Gold Award from Visit England. This shows the quality of finish and level of features that Oakwrights have installed into this project. The continuing popularity of the Try Before You Buy idea is reflected in the ever increasing amount of bookings for the show home. Oakwrights also gain industry recognition for their 3i Panel System at the Homebuilding & Renovating Self Build and Product Innovation Awards, taking top spot in the Construction Systems category. This system allows for the design of traditional style houses to incorporate the ability to overcome cold bridging and meet all current building regulations on an elemental basis.

 

The hugely positive feedback from visitors to The Woodhouse/Show Home leads to the creation of The Woodhouse Range; a range of houses conceived with the 'Country Contemporary' style with a number of floorplan layouts, from small to quite spacious. Within this range, there is a design to inspire and inform the basis for any oak frame project.

 

 The Woodhouse gives self-builders the opportunity to stay in an oak framed house that wins Five Star Accreditation and a Gold Award from Visit England
This is where Oakwrights time served craftsmen carry out all carpentry operations and dry fit the oak frames

To follow on from the machine workshop, a new 120ft x 80ft framing workshop was designed and built right next door to the machining workshop. This is where Oakwrights time served craftsmen carry out all carpentry operations and dry fit the oak frames. To make the working day easier for the carpenters, four 40ft overhead cranes were installed to assist with lifting and moving oak components and to reduce fatigue. Within this workshop, there are six dedicated framing stations, two of which are set up for carrying out scribing and curved work. Oakwrights carpenters build a considerable amount of arch brace and curved sling brace trusses, which are all cut by hand; the additional space and lifting equipment once again generates greater efficiency in the process of these operations.

 

If you are interested in joining the production team at Oakwrights, read about our Academy of High Performance Craft or check out the current vacancies.

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2012

 

Building upon the desire to always be pushing the quality of our offering, upwards and forwards, Oakwrights commissioned and installed two Weinmann butterfly turning tables. These tables enable us to clamp square and build 8m x 3m composite panels to enclose our oak frames. The client can choose between Oakwrights WrightWall Light (wall/roof) and Oakwrights WrightWall Natural (wall/roof) panels systems depending upon budget and desire to use natural materials. With Steve Laws leading the panel design team, situated now in the same workspace as the oak frame design team, a seamless fit between oak frame and enclosure system is created and further efficiency generated.

Oakwrights commissioned and installed two Weinmann butterfly turning tables
2012 also saw three of Oakwrights carpenters join the first intake for the start of an official oak framing apprenticeship scheme

2012

2012 also saw three of Oakwrights carpenters join the first intake for the start of an official oak framing apprenticeship scheme. These young men will undergo training that will give them a well-rounded understanding of all forms of oak frame carpentry work: from setting-out, scribing, the cutting & forming of joints to drawing & design work, through to general requirements such as first aid and general health & safety. These young carpenters will have the opportunity to learn all forms of oak framing and gain an understanding of how different companies work and gain a formal qualification in our craft.

'THIS IN ITSELF RE-AFFIRMS ANOTHER OF THE COMPANY'S FOUNDING BELIEFS, INVESTMENT IN THE EMPLOYEES WILL LEAD TO INVESTMENT IN THE COMPANY WHICH IN TURN WILL BE REFLECTED IN OUR INVESTMENT TO OUR CUSTOMERS. AT THE END OF THEIR APPRENTICESHIPS, THESE YOUNG MEN WILL INEVITABLY BE MORE SKILLED AND MORE VALUABLE TO BOTH OAKWRIGHTS AND ALL THE GOOD PEOPLE WHO CHOOSE TO WORK WITH US' 

 

Tim Crump

The design was based upon old paintings, photographs and drawings which the Oakwrights team were able to interpret into a beautiful Oak Frame.

Cams Mill is a Fullers pub & restaurant sitting on the site of an old tidal mill in Fareham; a recreation of the original mill which stood until circa 1900. The design was based upon old paintings, photographs and drawings which the Oakwrights team were able to interpret into a beautiful Oak Frame.

 

In 2013 we also began work on our biggest and most challenging commercial project, which came in the form of Pavilion One a contemporary and now iconic building which stands at the entrance to the old livestock development in Oakwrights home city of Hereford.

OAKWRIGHTS ALSO SAW THE OPENING OF ANOTHER LARGE COMMERCIAL PROJECT FOR FULLERS BREWERY

BUILDING ON THE SUCCESS OF COMPLETING WAITROSE AND THE JOHN LEWIS PARTNERSHIPS FIRST VENTURE INTO THE FARMSHOP ARENA IN THE LATE SUMMER OF 2013, OAKWRIGHTS ALSO SAW THE OPENING OF ANOTHER LARGE COMMERCIAL PROJECT FOR FULLERS BREWERY

Completed in 2014, this modern Oak frame building now a Costa Coffee cafe and their busiest branch outside of London, makes a bold statement yet complements the cities tradition of Oak frame construction. 2015 already sees Oakwrights further expansion into the commercial sector with two new restaurant projects in the South West and a string of promising new ventures throughout the year.

 

 

This modern Oak frame building makes a bold statement yet complements the cities tradition of Oak frame construction
Certified Passive House Consultant

2014

 

With the future of UK housebuilding and construction focused firmly on the reduction of Carbon Dioxide, we are already committed to the “Fabric First” approach with our advanced encapsulation systems. To enhance our understanding of the implications of this advance and the various methodologies available to satisfy ever more stringent regulations and after almost 9 years with us one of our staff, David Bryan transferred from our Sales & Estimating department to a more technical role carrying out Building Regulation drawings and building design work. 

Already a member of the AECB, David has an interest in the efficiency and physics of buildings so he combined this move with gaining accreditation as a Certified Passive House Consultant to allow us to work with one of the most rigorous standards currently in use in our industry; he also has undertaken training in analysing thermal bridges thus enabling us to now provide calculated psi-values (y-values) for our encapsulation systems to enhance their SAP ratings. In doing this it allows us to form highly effective inter-professional relationships with Client’s architects and energy consultants to deliver solutions that can limit the need for expensive green technologies on buildings and enhance the internal living environment essential for a happy family life.

2014 also a saw further mechanical investment into the services we can offer self-builders in terms of our encapsulation systems, with the arrival of the X-Floc GBF1050. This machine allows our installers to load one 550Kg bale at a time, which will fill 32m² of wall (13.5 linear metres of single storey) without the need to reload. It saves on time, it reduces the dust due to it being self-contained and it also calculates the weight of insulation used after every cavity fill. The machine itself is around four times faster than our previous setup and the voids are filled in a matter of seconds. 

We believe that this investment has moved Oakwrights even further ahead in the Oak Frame marketplace, allowing us to refine our processes even further, smoothing the flow of work out of the workshop, increasing our capacity and giving us a superior final product. Our desire is to pre-build as much of your home off-site as possible, and this investment is another step towards our goal. We are committed to this method of construction and we are always on the look-out for the next piece of technology that will allow us to give the best service available to our clients.

X-Floc GBF1050

2014

 

Iain Hendry joins the team to lead Oakwrights' growing presence in Scotland. Iain's experience and passion for oak frame construction made him the perfect choice, welcoming anyone considering embarking on a self-build journey to get in touch and discuss all the possibilities on offer. Look out for Iain and his team at upcoming Scottish shows.

2015

 

Helen Needham joins the team as our first in-house Architect and Architectural Team Manager. Originally from a farming background in Lincolnshire, Helen studied at Brighton University, where she gained a BA (Hons) degree, and Postgraduate Diplomas in Architecture, Management, Practice, and Law, with RIBA Parts I to III. She has worked for architectural practices in Lincolnshire, Devon, London, Sussex, and Surrey.

 

Helen has acted as the Project Architect for many developments; having enjoyed working through all stages, from meeting the client to handing over the keys and aftercare. Her early works involved alterations, renovations, and extensions to listed buildings and churches. Helen developed a particular interest in designing both new houses for self-builders, residential masterplans and commercial properties for property developers. She has designed a number of bespoke commissions including church chandeliers, a Scout teepee, swimming pools, a theatre stage set, Devon cob, and local Lincolnshire ‘mud and stud’ extensions. Helen oversees all work stages, although she specialises in pre-application and planning application; bringing in the frame and encapsulation design concept at the very early stages; she hand sketches, using Adobe Photoshop, and draws in AutoCAD.

2016

 

Due to increasing demand, we launch GreenRooms by Oakwrights; designing and constructing the finest oak framed extensions in the country, making oak framed living accessible to all, no matter what materials your home is constructed from.

 

Oakwrights publish the 'Oakwrights book' an invaluable source of inspiration for anyone planning to build an oak frame home, whether a traditional style or more contemporary design. 28 self-build homes are featured with over 300 stunning colour photographs, and all combined with the thoughts and individual stories of the homeowners.

 

 

'IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN AN INSPIRATIONAL, USEFUL AND BEAUTIFUL-LOOKING BOOK ABOUT OAK FRAME HOMES, THEN THIS IS DEFINITELY THE ONE FOR YOU'

 

Jason Orme, Editorial Director, Homebuilding and Renovating Magazine

2017

 

Oakwrights publish the ‘Oakwrights Portfolio’A must-have publication borne out of a desire to inspire self-builders, assisting them to select features for their own build, all based on a selection of previous beautiful projects. As well as the usual stunning full-colour photographs, there are full plans and elevations to really give an insight into the construction of these grand homes.

 

 

Oakwrights become the first company to achieve a Passive House Oak Frame Certification in the UK. This joint project from Oakwrights & Passive House Ecological Architects Ecoarc was very much led by the vision of the self-builder Dr Garnett. The proposed house needed to be a low carbon, eco-dwelling within a traditionally scaled envelope. It needed to be a low embodied energy, super insulated, Passive House construction. Most of the space heating was to be from passive solar gain, heat generated by the occupants, domestic electrical appliances and heat recovered from the mechanical ventilation system. 

 

Resources consumed in and during construction were vigorously considered, and used as efficiently as possible so that the resource could be reused or recycled without creating carbon emissions, pollution or rubbish. This awareness of the cyclical nature of the eco-systems offered a demonstration of a sustainable way forward in which the couple would live in balance with the natural world. The second oak frame Passivhaus in the UK is due to be completed in early 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

2018

 

With increasing demand for a full build service, Oakwrights launch their Full Turnkey Service aimed at realising your oak framed home dream with the minimum intrusion on your time, with all matters controlled by our Turnkey Project Manager who will keep everything on track, including adhering to agreed budgets from the outset. This turnkey approach is vital if you need to know your costs in advance, helping avoid unexpected costs that can affect self-build projects.

Oakwrights launch their Custom Build Design Service, dedicated to working alongside developers. Furthering their total commitment to helping you find the build route that suits you best. Custom Build means that you can be in complete control of your own house build project without having to find a build plot or even go through the process of gaining planning permission. They already have the land prepared and ready to begin the construction of an oak frame home to your very own specification! The Oakwrights Custom Build option means you will have a knowledgeable team on-hand to assist and advise you, something that is not as apparent when managing your self-build project entirely yourself.

With the increased demand for our growing range of products and services for the Self-Builder, Oakwrights drive forward with the creation of a new workshop. Sitting alongside the current Sugwas workshops, the new facility will house the Oakwrights softwood production equipment and panel making staff all in one building. This will allow for more flexible working between the two lines ensuring that wall and roof panels will be finished simultaneously. This will also optimise the loading of delivery vehicles to contain both walls and roof as they are now finished in the same location.

 

This change will also allow an increase in what can be offered to clients in terms of products; such as installing windows, doors and skylights into the cassettes as well as services (cables and pipes) into the panels, keeping Oakwrights at the forefront of panel making in the UK.

 

This new facility will also contain offices over two floors; relocating the in-house design team, the project management team and the production office, as well as our sister company Oakwrights Country Buildings. Grouping these staff in one custom built office will allow for even more efficiency in communication, subsequently providing an even better level of service to clients. Having the team this close to the production facilities will also help with queries from the workshop staff, and allow the design team to keep in touch with their work as it goes through production, who find it greatly rewarding seeing their hard work come to fruition.

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