Oakwrights Outbuildings – 'Organically Grown'
Timber Outbuildings Build Project
Although living in Derbyshire at the time, the Stobarts began looking for their perfect plot all around the country, and came across one in rural Herefordshire that seemed suited to their vision. Since Jeremy’s parents already lived in the area, Jeremy and Julie had an existing idea of what life in Herefordshire was like, and since the plot had an opportunity for a property which included outbuildings, they decided that it was the right plot for them, and finalised the purchase in 2010.
Upon purchasing, there was already an existing house on the plot, but due to flash flooding in the area that occurred almost every year, the Stobart’s decided that they would need to rebuild the home entirely rather than simply refurbish. After some difficulty obtaining their planning permission, including a battle to move the site of their build 100 metres away from the position of the existing house to avoid the floods, as well as having to get non-material amendments, building finally began in 2015.
Oak Framed Outbuildings
“When it came to the outbuildings, we didn’t want to do something that looked as though it had all been built in one go.” Jeremy explained. “We wanted to create something slightly more quirky that looked like it had been added to over time- grown organically, almost.”
However, it wasn’t until the base had already gone down that the Stobart’s knew they would be working with oak for their outbuilding; they took the advice of the builders, who said that they thought their outbuilding would look best in oak. Jeremy decided that although oak was a more expensive option for the outbuildings, he knew he wanted to build something lasting. Plus, the beauty of oak as it ages was an idea that appealed to Jeremy greatly, as was being able to see the pegs of the frame with nothing enclosed, and so they went forward with their decision to work on the outbuilding in oak.
“There were many factors in choosing to work with oak: aesthetics, longevity… we’d had outbuildings in our previous home that were built with softwood, and things always needed to be replaced frequently. But you want it there for a significant amount of time, you want it to last.”
When choosing a company to work with, it was important to the Stobart’s that their vision and design was at the centre of the proceedings: “We actually got a long way down the track with one of your competitors after buying the plot and getting the planning permission, but as the process went on it kept getting more expensive. Plus, they didn’t really accommodate our own ideas, but instead pushed their own vision of what the build should be.” Upon visiting the Oakwrights offices and staying at the Woodhouse (the Oakwrights ‘try before you buy’ show home), the Stobart’s liked what they saw and decided to begin working with the Oakwrights Country Buildings Team to design and build their outbuilding barn and garage complex.
When it came to the design process, Jeremy used a hands-on approach for the entire build, and drew up most of the plans (including tender documents, electrical and plumbing drawings) himself. He stressed strongly how important it was to plan exactly what you wanted at the very early stages: “The more you can do as a client to know what you want and stick to it without changing your mind, the better and easier it will be.” Jeremy told us. “Planning and knowing just what you like is crucial.”
Construction of the oak Outbuildings
However, once building was underway, the Stobart’s decided to take more of a backseat in the proceedings, preferring to leave it down to the Oakwrights Country Buildings and C.J. Bayliss team: “We continued to live in Derby until the house was entirely finished, and only came to see the site once a month. It was more exciting that way, seeing how quickly things were progressing. In terms of the outbuilding, we sort of eased ourselves out of the picture and left it all down to Oakwrights.” Moreover, Jeremy being self-employed allowed him to take the time to sit down each day and address any queries the builders or members of the workforce may have had, so the process felt like a smooth one. “Most things were easily resolved by a call or email.” Jeremy said. “90-95% of what we ended up with, we were happy with.”
In regards to the building process, the Stobart’s decided to build their oak outbuilding complex alongside the construction of the main house in order to keep the tradesmen employed at the same time, and found this to be a successful method. The outbuildings were the first to be completed, going up fractionally ahead of the house. When choosing materials, they decided that factory produced tiles and bricks were preferable to them, both in aesthetics and price. However, sourcing the bricks for the outbuilding proved to be more difficult than expected as a result of the financial crisis and as a result the start date for the build was pushed forward from their initial aim of June/July, to April. This allowed the team to begin stockpiling materials, such as the bricks, which were in higher demand.
The Stobart’s also decided to invest in solar panels in order to power the main house and outbuilding, after realising that their electricity cable would have to go underground as a result of the position of overhead powerlines. As well as this, they also opted to include a ground source heat pump and a rain tank into their build for extra environmental efficiency.