Our First Photoshoot Raffle Winners
David and Angela are one of our three lucky winners to have their pictures pulled out of the hat. Jakki has dispatched the Oakwrights case of wine.
Angela kindly sent in a few words to describe their story so far.
This is the blog, to date, for Angela & David Bunker- absolute novices to the challenges of self building....
It was by pure chance that we came across our plot of land with a derelict house in situ. After 9 months of searching we spent an afternoon on 2 computers- me on the surveyors’ websites looking at plots & David on Google Earth checking the areas! Fate then had a hand in us securing the plot-we found the plot at 4pm one Saturday afternoon & got straight in the car.
The plot sat in the middle of open fields in the Cambridgeshire countryside & an added benefit was that the plot already had planning permission for a replacement countryside dwelling. Whilst looking around the plot, Jim, the plot owner, appeared. He’d only given instruction on the plot to the Land Agents the day before! We hit it off immediately & four days later, by handshake, the sale was agreed. It was perfect for what we had in mind & plots like ours are extremely rare.
Where to start? Having looked at many different houses we knew we wanted something out of the ordinary, special & it needed a real WOW factor. Our search started by trying to find a barn for conversion & very quickly we found a barn available for sale by sealed bids. However after the builder took a look, it took the build costs over our budget. The oak in the barn was beautiful & it had made up our minds that whatever we did it had to be based around an oak frame.
We chose Oakwrights to design & build our frame & were introduced to Pete Tonks, Oakwrights designer. After a few meetings he came up with the designs for the house & everything was submitted for planning. To cut a long story short Pete was fantastic and argued our case after issues with the planners. On resubmission of plans for a smaller house, but with full size basement, we finally got our planning approval.
Then we started the frame design with Oakwrights. Chris Eldred designed our frame & he was superb, always going the extra mile to make sure we got everything we wanted. Our house is 2500ft2 including basement. The basement extends beyond the footprint of the house to incorporate 2 large panels of walk on glazing to spread natural light into the basement. The oak frame at ground floor is enclosed by brick walls & the 1st floor is lime rendered between the exposed oak frame & overhangs the ground floor at one end.
The frame arrives 23rd March 2009 & after pulling the lorry from the field where it was well & truly stuck the guys set about their work. The frame was erected with precision & skill in just 4 days. The crane driver & Oakwrights team were fantastic. Even our frame designer was on site. The excitement of seeing our house on the plot was magical and one of the many highlights of this build project.
We have completed the majority of works ourselves calling in the professional for the brickwork, roof, render & windows. With the exception of one tradesman all have been fantastic. We have recently won our court case with our renderer so this work now has to be rescheduled with a new contractor- not everything runs as smoothly or stress free as you’d like. G J Williams completed the build & installation of our windows, stairs & walk on glazing and we’re so pleased, they look fantastic & the team were so personable.
Be prepared to negotiate to get everything you want, people really can help you. Our local tile shop manager, Simon, at Cut Price Tiles understood the scale of our project and we have worked with him to get the finish we were looking for. William Holland was another great company & when the copper bath is installed it will take pride of place in the en-suite. Searching the internet before picking up the phone has proven invaluable in sourcing material & advice.
Whilst not fully finished we are well on the way to completion and will be fully finished during early 2011. We all sit back & admire what we’ve achieved & the complimentary comments of the walkers that go past our house make it all worthwhile. At least next year we can enjoy sitting out on the decking watching the sun go down.
The derelict house on site was demolished in September 2008 and the digger started the groundwork for the basement in November 2008. Soon followed by the worst winter on record for many years- everything ground to a halt! A freezing caravan, our home for the duration of the build, & no workmen really makes you question whether you’ve done the right thing. But after the thaw, work continued at a steady pace to be ready for our Oakwrights frame.