Piers Butler, Oakwrights Sales Team Manager for the North of England writes about working with clients from just outside York, Carrie Pillow and Steven Charlesworth, from first meeting at an Open Day in 2010 to their very own Open Day for us in mid-November. Piers also introduces Oakwrights Frame Designer Martyn Davies as he recalls a week spent on site as the oak frame went up along with a series of images that show the transformation of the land and the generation of the new home.
I first met Steve & Carrie when they came to visit an Open Day which we held at a previous clients’ house just north of York. They told me that they were in the process of getting planning permission for a new dwelling, tied to their farming business, and had already got an architect on board who they had worked with previously.
A little time went by until we received a set of plans from them for the proposed house. An estimating proposal of the frame was modelled up, costed and presented. As this was the first time that their architect, Kevin Grinham, had been involved in the design of a house with a full post & beam frame – I was very impressed by how straightforward the framing layout worked.
Planning was finally approved and I went up to the site in Sheriff Hutton to go through the final details of what was required of Oakwrights. The couple decided to go with the frame plus one of our enhanced closed panel wall and roof encapsulation system to give them excellent thermal performance.
Steve, Carrie and Carrie’s parents came to visit our Herefordshire Show Home while there were some planning amendments going through and this gave them the opportunity to have a look around our design and manufacturing facilities as well.
Martyn Davies, Oakwrights Frame Designer; on the benefits of a good foreman and cake - on site in York
I had been tasked with coming up with a solution for fitting a heavy oak structural frame to a new build house designed by York based architect Kevin Grinham. Other elements of our contract included the design of a softwood encapsulation including floor and roof structure but other members of the design team would be responsible for this.
A classic, mostly open plan and fully vaulted post and beam frame design was the result, with a couple of quirky details thrown in for additional character. I was happy, on the whole, with the way the design flowed. Good collaboration with the architect was key to this. There were some details that needed resolving en-route but this, of course, is to be expected. One such example was the way in which our oak frame was to interface with the client’s choice of face glazing system. It was required that our oak frame be inset from the masonry face a distance quite a lot greater than that we usually recommended. No problem, as good simple communication allowed a clear agreement to be made.
On 23rd May 2011, in a warm and dry office at our Herefordshire headquarters, we met with Carrie Pillow and Steven Charlesworth to discuss the details of their project near York. In particular, we were dealing with the handover process from Sales to Design Team.
At the time it would have been hard to imagine that five and a half months later I would be up to my eyeballs in sodden Yorkshire loam, helping to put up the heavy oak frame in the pouring rain.
Apparently this was Kevin’s first attempt at designing a house with a structural oak frame at its core. It didn’t show. Kevin clearly had a good feel for this style of construction with a good understanding of how any proposed oak frame solution should lie with the general house layout. Because of this, and from my point of view as a frame designer, it was a relatively easy process and a joy for me to fit a nice oak frame to Kevin’s design. Thank you, Kevin!
Anyway, fast forward five and a half months and on site I was. As it turned out, thanks to Saso (our Foreman), his expert team and lots of cake (thank you Carrie), the frame went up without a hitch despite the awful weather conditions.
Take Tuesday 11th October, 2011. It’s my second day on site with Saso, Ben and Tom awaiting the delivery of the oak frame components on a single lorry from Hereford. The site is large and easily accessible with few obstructions likely to cause any problems. The base masonry has been constructed and having spent the previous day on the tape measure and level, checks out to be within approximately +/- 5mm of the theoretical, so we are happy.
Soft wood sole plates for the encapsulation system are laid and fixed into exact position so that they could be used as a reliable datum for the eventual positioning of the oak frame. The site is well prepared generally with plenty of hard standing and a porta cabin, which together with a temporary shelter, become a vital retreat from the inclement weather later to be experienced. The weather, at this stage, is dry but overcast and threatening. Inevitably the rain arrives later in the day and continues unabated (seemingly) until our departure from site on the following Thursday. Thankfully there is virtually no wind; so lifting operations using the crane are less challenging.
Despite the rain, our work progressed well, and in cheerful spirit, helped by the seemingly endless supply of fabulous sandwiches and cake from our hosts. The real danger of losing mobility due to over indulgence didn’t come to pass and it was only a slightly dicky back that I stupidly gave myself on the first day that slowed things up in any way. Many thanks to Saso for his patience, to Steve for being so willing to help out and to Carrie for her medical advice… and cake!
The frame and wall/roof panels were duly constructed and delivered.
I have kept quite close to the build as it progressed – mostly without problems.
The family are now happily ensconced in their lovely new home, and have kindly offered to open up their beautiful home for an Oakwrights Open Day on Saturday 16th November 2013.
If you would like to attend the Open Day, please call our offices on 01432 353353 for further information and to book a specific visit time.
There was one problem though – we were having a very busy year which meant that the frame delivery would be somewhat later than Steve & Carrie had anticipated. After some discussions we agreed on a delivery date and frame design got underway. Unusually, we had the frame sign-off meeting up in Yorkshire.