A contemporary barn-style Suffolk home

Project Overview

Area: Suffolk
House Type: Barn style
House Size: 293m2
Build Route: External Architect, Oakwrights and self-managed.
Build Time: 08 Sep 2014 – 08 Jun 2015

Rupert and Lindsay Osborn realised their dream of building a contemporary oak framed home in a beautiful Suffolk village, despite a lengthy seven year long battle with the local planners. The two acres of gardens surrounding their 17th Century Grade II listed house, offered Rupert and Lindsay the perfect location to build their dream oak frame barn style home.

“We had decided that we wanted to downsize, and as we were both interested in design and technology, we looked forward to an opportunity to create not only a beautiful but energy efficient sustainable new home,” explains Rupert. “We loved our old house and its location, so building 100 metres away seemed the perfect solution. Unfortunately, the journey was not straightforward as our first planning application was initially refused, as the plot we wanted to build outside the defined village boundary and therefore was classed as open countryside.”

Rupert and Lindsay's central glazing draws in natural light

Choosing to build with Oakwrights

Having first come across Oakwrights at the Homebuilding and Renovating Show back in 2007, Rupert and Lindsay visited our show home in Herefordshire and met with our Regional Architectural Designer Pete Tonks. Feeling that Pete was the right person to take their project forward, they invited Pete to visit their existing home and view their plot of land to discuss their design ideas and formulate their ‘wish list’. Working in close collaboration with the couple, Pete created a wonderful design and submitted a full set of drawings to the local Planning Authority. Unfortunately, due to planning policy, their first planning submission was refused, and it was agreed that an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate would be the logical next step. Disappointingly, yet again, the application was rejected by the Planning Inspectorate who upheld the original decision, and the couple decided to put their dreams on hold.


The Planning application process

After a five year wait, planning policies changed under the new Government, so, still working with our team here at Oakwrights and Pete, updated plans were put forward for a similar oak framed home at the same site. During their five years, The Osborn’s children ‘flew the nest ’ so the design was amended to future-proof it. This application went to Planning Committee and was approved with an 11-1 majority. With Full Planning Permission finally granted in January 2014, the couple formally instructed our teams to start work on the finite design of the oak frame.

“We wanted a house that was easy to live in and open plan – for it to feel really light which the oak frame really complements,” says Lindsay. “In the end we had so long to plan everything and had the opportunity to thoroughly research every aspect of the project we knew exactly how we wanted it to look, both internally and outside. Our Oakwrights Frame Designer worked her magic to ensure we got what we wanted”.

Rupert and Lindsay then sold their original house, to release funds for their build and rented a bungalow adjacent to the plot, allowing them to be on site every day as they had decided to manage the whole project themselves.

The vaulted oak frame ceilings really add a 'wow' factor

Sustainability at the heart of the house

Technology had advanced so much during the seven year planning battle that they were eventually able to build a home that is essentially “nil-bill”. A ground source heat pump was installed to supply the underfloor heating for the whole house as well as heating the domestic water. Installing this technology allowed Rupert and Lindsay to benefit from the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme and receive payments over seven years. In addition, a ground-mounted array of sixteen solar panels located in a sunny corner of the garden provides electricity for the home and heats the hot water.

Benefitting from the exceptional thermal efficiency and low U-values of our premium WrightWall and WrightRoof Natural ecapsulation system that is wrapped around the oak frame structure, Rupert & Lindsay were able to design and build a new home that would be warm in the winter and cool in the summer. A mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system, designed and built into the fabric of the house keeps the air fresh and filtered 24/7. No more noisy and draughty extractor fans in the bathrooms or in the kitchen to worry about!

In addition, the house is entirely ‘off-grid’ for water and drainage. A bore hole, with a filtration system, supplies all the domestic water and a Klargester Biodisc Treatment Plant was installed to deal with the waste, rather than having to connect to mains drains 150m uphill!

Pete Tonks’ design ensured the south-facing position of the house maximises solar gain for the property with huge areas of Face Glazing to the central gable. The full-height glazed gable has Solar-Controlled glass to avoid overheating, ensuring the furniture doesn’t fade but letting in all the sunlight. Outdoor living space was key to the house design, with Colonial-style verandas leading from the kitchen and living rooms on the south elevation of the property, allow Rupert & Lindsay to enjoy the garden year-round. There is a large basalt terrace between the main house and the Cart Lodge for entertaining outdoors.

The beautiful steel, granite and glass staircase takes centre stage

The build process

Ground works commenced in September 2014, with our team acting as a specialist sub contractor and using local trades for everything else. Rupert and Lindsay managed all the local trades themselves, dealing with scheduling, ordering materials and arranging deliveries to site. Once completed, the foundations and slab were checked by their Oakwrights Project Manager, ready for the arrival of their oak frame.

The house is 275m2, with overall dimensions of 18m x 14m (over single and 1.5 storeys) it took the Oakwrights Site Team only 5 days to erect the structural oak frame, with the help of a 40-ton crane. The oak frame was erected in early November 2014 and within 15 days Rupert and Lindsay had a dry shell superstructure ready for roofing and fitting out internally.

On top of the double brick plinth sits the oak weatherboard cladding, providing a warmth and natural feel to the property which has easily settled into its woodland garden setting. The joinery windows and doors are engineered softwood timber with aluminium flashings and cills – factory-painted in RAL 7043 grey.

Once our site team had completed their installation the house was finally finished around 6-months later, with a total build time of just 9 months.


Interior features

On entering the central hallway, a beautiful steel, granite and glass staircase attracts the eye and leads up to a mezzanine landing that enjoys a view over the informal seating area and dining room below.

The double height seating area is simply furnished with leather sofas and provides a connection to the garden as well as the ‘wow’ factor of the vaulted oak frame up to the ceiling – filled with natural light from the full height glazed gable. The kitchen is the social hub of the home with a Total Control Aga and sleek island with quartz worktops and breakfast bar along one side.

There is a master suite with a vaulted ground floor bedroom and large en-suite, so the home is already future-proofed. A large, vaulted utility room with a traditional pully for drying clothes, a sitting room and separate WC completes the downstairs layout.

The first-floor features two large bedrooms, each with generously proportioned en-suites. The bedrooms feel extra spacious due to the vaulted ceilings, and fuss free Plantation Shutters are a characterful alternative to having curtains throughout the house.


“We wanted a house that was easy to live in and open plan – for it to feel really light which the oak frame really complements”

Lindsay Osborn

From client to a valued member of the Oakwrights sales team

Rupert’s enthusiasm has now ventured way beyond building his own oak framed home! He loves his Oakwrights home so much, he now shares his passion by representing Oakwrights as part of our Business Development Team covering the East of England, speaking with new clients who would like to build their own oak framed home and hosting open days for prospective self builders.

Top Tips from Rupert & Lindsay :-
1. Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with the design – do lots of research.
2. Be clear about costs v budget. Don’t get carried away!
3. Buy good quality fixtures & fittings that will last.

A contemporary barn-style Suffolk home

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