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10th October 2014 / posted by JoYoung

'It's been a good wee while since I was on site.'

Jo and Matt



Back in March I happened to look over the shoulder of our Oakwrights Country Buildings manager, to see on his screen a Sketch-Up model of a very interesting garage frame with a room above. We had just received the go ahead on the project. We sat and went through it together and to my surprise he offered me the folder. Without hesitation I grabbed the folder from him with a massive grin on my face.

Room over garages are pretty common in my line of work, however this one was very unique. It had initially been designed by our clients (Rob & Beth) and our sales manager (Ben Kirk) with feature oak trusses complete with arch collar braces. I had designed arch collars back when I was a house frame designer but not had the chance to do them since working in Oakwrights Country Buildings.

The building is to be a workshop downstairs and a games room upstairs. A real man cave and family area mixed into one.

I got to work with the initial design and was in regular contact with Rob and Beth, ironing out all the kinks. The couple were great to work with and knew exactly what they wanted and even extended the external oak stairs to incorporate a balcony.

It took six months from initial design of this project to get onto site. All through those six months I worked with my clients getting the right design for them whilst making sure that everything they wanted to do was structurally feasible.

The Original Sketchup Model

Original Sketchup Model

There is a lot to work out in a project like this. I had non-habitable elements downstairs, habitable upstairs and face glazing on the gables. All this has to work together to make the building sealed from the elements.

Non-Habitable area getting weatherboarded

Non-Habitable area getting weatherboarded


It was coming to the end of August; the site date of 22nd September was getting closer. The frame was going through the machine and workshop. It was decided I would go to site with this frame. This is something that as designers we are encouraged to do as often as we can. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a good wee while since I was on site. But after checking the weather forecast (dry and warm) I agreed this would be a good idea.

The morning of the 22nd arrived and myself and Matt (who is moving from the workshop to the design side of things in the office) headed to site for the week. This would be good experience for him before starting designing full time.  We arrived on site just as Rob and Beth were making teas for everyone. After a chat with them both we were put to work by our site foreman Jim. I was sorting studwork ready to be made up. Whilst I was doing this Jim and one of the other site lads got cracking with the oak. By the end of the first day we were up to floor level.


Oak Frame being put into positon

We had a crane booked for the Wednesday to get the trusses and roof erected safely. So Tuesday was getting prepared for that. All studwork on the ground floor was to be in position and all oak trusses had to be ready to be craned in first thing.

Danger! Designer let loose with a nail gun!

Danger! Designer let loose with a nail gun!

Oak Trusses ready for the crane

Oak trusses ready for the crane

Jim and Matt happy in the rain

Jim and Matt happy in the rain

Wednesday was here and the weather could not be worse. Full waterproofs were needed. So much for that weather report!!!

My favourite part of the whole frame is the giant boss in the centre of the vaulted ceiling.  I designed a collar beam running right through it.  After talking with the workshop lads we are pretty certain this is a first for Oakwrights.

Boss frame 'flying in'

Boss frame ‘flying in’

By the end of Wednesday the sun had come out, we had all dried off and all the oak was up. Not bad going for three days of work. The final job for that day was a trip to the nearby forest in search of an oak tree, so we could get a branch to do the topping out ceremony.

Me and the boys showing off our cheeky grins

Me and the boys showing off our cheesy grins

It wasn’t long before my week on site was up, absolutely shattered but thoroughly enjoyed myself.

By the time Friday afternoon came we had all studwork in and rafters on the roof. This then left the guys with weatherboarding and finishing off the balcony the next week. 

Then it is the turn of the roofers. It will take them another couple of weeks to get the roof done and last but no least the face glazing will be installed. This is not due on site until the end of October so in November I will be able to go back and see the whole oak garage structure up and weather tight. I can’t wait to see what toys my clients will put in the games room!

Actual Model

Actual model

A Word from Rob & Beth (The Clients)

“We were after a large new oak garage with a games room on the first floor. We didn't want a conventional structure, we were looking for something more interesting both externally and internally. We wanted to minimise awkwardly placed internal columns so that we could make the most out of our new space. We approached three different oak frame specialists. Oakwrights differentiated themselves in many ways. Firstly our estimator Ben, really went out of his way to come up with a solution that met our needs. Other companies said that what we wanted wasn't possible but Ben, together with our frame designer Jo, came up with a braced arch concept that gave us a 6m uninterrupted span and a beautiful internal detail. Throughout the process Oakwrights provided a very personal service with Jo, Katie (Project Manager) and Ben very accessible and extremely responsive. And again when it came to site work the same high standards were maintained. The site work was planned over two months in advance and Jim and his team started on the day promised and finished as per the three week schedule. Jim and the team were very responsive on site - we had no complaints and the few tweaks we asked for we're all done with no fuss. We are delighted with the resulting building and have been delighted with the Oakwrights team.”




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