Ed's Latest Build: Mr & Mrs Bengston's Post and Beam House Outside Harlow in Essex
An overview of one of our latest projects; a four bedroom post and beam house. Total time to complete: machine shop 4 days, framing up 5 days, build 3 and a half days.
Two weeks ago the oak arrived in the framing up yard from the machine shop, this is where most of the designer’s work is added to the timbers by our own beam processors (the Hundeggers.)
After the usual start of curving the braces, a process our machines can’t yet manage, the teams start work. All tenons are fitted into their corresponding mortises, beginning with the roof, and fitting the purlins and ridge to the principal rafters. Next the wall plates are laid out on trestles and jointed together. The tie beams are then brought in and fitted across to complete the top section of the house.
After this the house can be split into individual frames, the side frames and their adjoining diagonal frames which include the trusses.
One of the larger frames being put together by Tim and Marius
There were some nice additional features on this house (such as the beauty of having your own bespoke frame.) Features including two large bosses attached to the hips of the roof which are jointed into dragon ties above the wall plates, this adds to the roof’s character as the house will have a large vaulted ceiling. Along with this the house has four frames with large hand cut braces reaching up from the two storey posts on to the impressive principal rafters. After five days and 3 teams of oak framers the oak was ready to go.
The workshop team.
Mike loading one of the two flatbed trailers. In all, over 1000 cubic feet of oak with a weight of over 25 tonnes.
The next Tuesday at 5am we were in the van and ready to go. A team of five of us: Matt the site foreman, Tim the frame designer, Mark and Kristoff, the site carpenters, and myself as the inner and outer (hopefully ironing out any snags before getting to site.)
We were on site before 9am, in a pretty village called Moreton in Essex. Strangely enough there were already a few Oakwrights houses in the surrounding area as well as another site crew working on one of our oak frame extensions.
By lunchtime the oak was unloaded off both the lorries with as little disruption to the local traffic as possible, and some skilful driving around obstacles by our crane driver Paul. The oak was laid out in the client’s field. Luckily Richard, who was the project manager and conveniently the father of Mrs Bengston, was on hand to move the horse.
Over the next few days, with Kristoff slinging the oak the house flew up, only stopping to pause with some of the more interesting trusses that needed to be fitted. But with an experienced crew and the designer on site to blame, the frame went up very smoothly. After 2 and a half days the frame was erected and Paul and the crane were off to another job leaving us with a morning’s worth of pegging up.
Some of the pictures taken through the build. Craning in one of the trusses on a sunny afternoon, the ground floor built, Richard the project manager looking on with the dogs, and finally the fitting of one of the largest trusses.
Mark carefully persuading a truss into position.
The boss with attached hips is lowered into place, again directed by Mark.
On the Thursday evening with everyone around we had a topping out of the timber house, with a branch of oak sourced from an adjoining wood. Mrs Bengston was very brave and attached it to the highest boss in the house, marking the finish of the build. The six of us were then promptly treated to a lovely meal in the village pub, a five minute walk down the lane. I am sure Mr and Mrs Bengtson are happy with their oak frame and we wish them the best in completing their family home.