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17th December 2010 / posted by TimCrump

That was the year that was - 2010 looking forwards to 2011

Tim Crump

2010 has been an interesting year, from an oak framed chapel to H shaped manor houses, and from a huge wedding barn to post and beam barn houses, the variety of work has been varied and challenging. While 2009 was very good for Oakwrights overall, we had slow sales at the end of the year and this gave us a slow start regarding design, construction, and erection of oak frames on site in the early part of 2010. I think this was the recession biting and people just being a little cautious. However sales in 2010 started well and just gained strength all the way through the year. This I think shows confidence in the self build market, and that we are designing and building homes that people intend to live in for the long term. In fact we are running into 2011 with more house frames signed up to be built than ever before. This gives me a great amount of confidence for the spring of 2011, knowing that we are fully booked almost to the beginning of the summer.

Snowy Frame

We will have designed and built just over 55,000ft3 of oak frame this year, which is on a par with last year. The main difference is that last year the flow was steady, with the turnover for all twelve months being fairly much equal. This year the majority of the work has been forced into the September to December period. Along with the tricky weather this has made for a hectic end to the year. We are all looking forwards to the Christmas party.

The spread of frames has also been quite interesting. We have built 17 traditional infill panel houses, 14 post & beam houses where we have carried out the encapsulation, 38 houses where we have supplied the oak frame only and 65 garage projects. Historically we would have built at least 10 more traditional infill panel frames. This does seem to represent the swing towards the country contemporary style of frame. The turnover for 2010 has been just about equal with 2009 at £5million. Profitability has been slightly down due to the workload being a little too little at the beginning of the year and a little too much at the end. Teams kicking their heels at the start of the year and huge amounts of overtime at the end of the year. With the pre orders that we have for 2011 we will have a much smoother ride.

Oakwrights team

Oak Frame House

We have had five open days with kind permission of previous clients from Yorkshire to Cornwall to Kent, along with three open days at our show home. We have also attended nine shows giving us the opportunity to meet potential new clients and spread the oak framing word.

Gold award

Our show home gained official five star recognition with a gold award as a self catering property. This has been fantastic news as it should give further confidence to potential visitors regarding the quality of both our construction, and also accommodation and facilities that we offer. Investment for the year has been one new van for the site crew, and a new 13.5 tonne lorry that will be used specifically for our show frame. The idea being that all the show equipment will stay in the lorry permanently, saving loading and unloading ten times with all the potential damage that this causes. With any skill based company the main investment is our people. Three young frame designers have completed their first year in the design loft. Will, Jo and Joe (yes I know it is confusing) have completed their first projects, and Joe Smart has managed to get out on site with three frames, completing his year at Helens Bay overlooking Belfast Lough. We have also taken on four new trainee framers in the workshop.

So 2011 and the future. As I said earlier we have more oak frame signed up than we have ever had before leading into the New Year. We actually have just over 30,000ft3 signed up ready to go so this will give us a fantastic start to the year. Our aim is to produce over 65,000ft3 of oak frame in 2011. We are aiming to carry on developing our light wall encapsulation system and to this end we have a planning application in for an additional workshop next to our machine shop, at 120ft x 80ft. This will give us the space to not only build more panel enclosure systems but to also become more efficient.

Oakwrights office

With our enclosure systems we are aiming to offer a full air tightness testing service where we are supplying and enclosing the oak frames up to dry shell. While air tightness is reasonably achievable with oak frame enclosure systems it is all down to attention to detail, and it is this attention to detail that we feel is our strong point.

Oak framed house

We have commissioned and will be releasing two new brochures next year. One brochure will be on our Try Before You Buy service, and a range of houses based on our show home ranging from 1,400ft2 to over 3,000ft2. The second brochure will be a new general introduction to Oakwrights and I may even get around to writing a new version of the Oakwrights book. As ever shows and open days will play a big part of our year and this is where our new show lorry will come into its own. Shows are important but open days even more so as here potential new clients get to visit a house that we have built, and to talk to customers who have worked with us before and find out what the experience was like. We will be trying to spread further afield with our open days and cover a wider area of the country. The art of a good open day is finding houses that have ample parking close by. With building plots as they are in the UK this is not always easy.

More photography and magazine articles. I enjoy the photography expeditions as it gives me an opportunity to spend a day with clients whose houses are fully complete. It never ceases to impress me, the quality of finish that our clients achieve. Jakki has found by analysing the projects that we have completed in 2010 that 33 of the 67 houses that we have built state that they came to Oakwrights through word of mouth or recommendation. While this is a high number we would like to improve on this and we feel that if we can strengthen our project management and customer service over and beyond just the oak frame then this would be a commendable achievement and hopefully create more happy customers.

Oak frame

So finally I would like to thank all of our customers for building with Oakwrights in 2010 and look forward to working with all of our new customers in 2011. I wish you a happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.

oak framed house




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