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A FAMILY BARN-STYLE HOME by oakwrights

 A FAMILY BARN STYLE CASE STUDY

A BARN STYLE HOUSE

'WHEN OAKWRIGHTS INSTALLED THE BARN HOUSE OAK FRAME, IT ONLY TOOK THEM ABOUT FOUR DAYS!'

 

“It’s a bit bigger than we initially wanted. We were meant to be downsizing, but it’s about twice as large as our previous home!” Over the years the Glosters have completed numerous renovation projects, including four barn conversions. When Martin retired, he wanted a new challenge and the couple started looking for a self-build opportunity, or a possible knockdown and rebuild project, in the area. “We came across a bungalow for sale and had lots of ideas in mind for what we could do with it. Before putting in an offer or moving forward we visited an architect who we’d used for some of our previous projects to discuss our ideas,” says Helena. “We went through a very detailed description of what we hoped to achieve. He said ‘Do you mean something like this?’ and turned his computer screen round to show us a house design that was almost exactly what we wanted.”

 

 

BARN HOUSE DESIGN

 

 

The barn design the architect revealed was for a new home on a plot nearby, next to a listed property. The owner of the listed dwelling needed to sell the land as an enabling plot to raise funds for restoration work. “To push a sale through the architect had been employed to get detailed planning permission for a house. We went straight over to the site and bought the land from who’s now our next-door neighbour,” says Helena. “There had been a long and drawn out planning process and it had taken three years for them to get permission. We didn’t want to go back to square one and redesign the whole project, so as the style ticked a number of our boxes we were happy just to modify certain aspects of the plans to suit our requirements.”

TIMBER FRAME BARN HOUSE COSTS

 

Occupations:

Retired

Location:

Bransford, Worcester

Type of build:

New build

Home Style:

Barn Home Collection 

Method of construction:

Oak Frame enclosed in SIPs / timber clad

House size:

310m² (3,337ft² 

Plot size:

0.75 acre

Land cost:

£190,000 + £20,000 for orchid land

Oak Frame:

£59,000

Total build cost:

£575,000 

Cost per m²:

£1855 (172 per ft²) 

VAT reclaimed:

£22,000

Date work commenced:

November 2007

Construction time:

54 weeks

 

OAKWRIGHTS INSTALLED THE OAK FRAME - IT ONLY TOOK THEM ABOUT FOUR DAYS

elevations

floor plans

A FAMILY BARN STYLE HOME GALLERY

THE BARN DESIGN TAKES SHAPE

 

Although the basic design stayed the same, the Glosters completely altered the internal layout, swapped the north-facing glazed frontage for timber cladding (moving the glazed elevation to the rear of the property) and set about finding a suitable build system for the house. “I’ve got an engineering background so knew I could do a lot of the project myself,” says Martin. “We studied the architect’s plans and researched the construction methods we could use to build and what technology we could install. We read a lot of magazines, including Build It, and visited various exhibitions to get ideas.”

The couple made contact with numerous timber frame companies, knowing that using an oak frame would provide them with the charm and character they desired. “After meeting Oakwrights we knew we wanted to employ them to build the frame for us,” says Helena. “The design team were great, they really listened to us and were happy to do whatever we wanted. They followed our initial discussion up with a really reasonable quote, so going with them was an easy decision.”

Martin led the project management, hiring various tradesmen, balancing the books, sourcing materials and labouring throughout. “I think that an awful lot of the work in a self build is the manual labour. Well, I can do that till the cows come home, so I employed tradesmen just to do the skilled bits.” 

 

3D OAK FRAME DESIGN


The first major task was to employ a groundworks team to construct the foundations. “Obviously, this aspect had to be exactly right as per the plans, so it was the one element that I didn’t get involved with,” says Martin. “As the plot is on ex-farmland the team discovered huge holes from old cess and a slurry pits. So they had to install double depth foundations to provide adequate support. Oakwrights provided us with a 3D design of the frame so that the team knew where to put the supporting pads.”


While this work was going on, Martin and his builders Mark and Tony built the garage. They wanted to get this finished early on, primarily because it would provide the workforce with welfare facilities – a kitchen and toilet – throughout the project. “The garage is constructed from an oak frame that we made ourselves. Mark is a skilled joiner, so I bought the beams and he was able to put them together,” says Martin.


Once the foundations were in place, Martin and the builders constructed a metre high brick wall round them, and Oakwrights installed the oak frame inside. “It only took them about four days to do that – three days to erect it and a day to square it up. We really enjoyed watching the whole raising process.”

 

ECO-FRIENDLY & THERMALLY EFFICIENT


In addition to the boiler and UFH, the Glosters have both solar thermal and PV panels, a heat exchange and distribution system, a rainwater harvesting unit and a woodburning stove. “I am so passionate about solar thermal systems. They should be built into every new home,” says Helena. “Ours is linked up to a decent sized tank so we have plenty of hot water. Last year from the middle of February to September, we never once had to switch the boiler on.”


PV panels were installed more recently. As the back of the Glosters’ house is directly south facing, the panels are in optimum position for generating energy. “We make enough to sell some back to the grid,” says Helena. “We have changed the way we live to suit the technology. For example, I’ll put the washing machine or dishwasher on so they come on at the best time of the day – when it’s sunniest. If it’s a really dull day, I wouldn’t put those appliances on.”


The wood burner is linked to a heat recovery system so that when it’s on, the warmth produced is distributed evenly throughout the house. The stove is proving to be extremely cost effective, as the couple are fuelling it for free with off-cuts from the build. A rainwater harvesting tank buried in the garden is linked up to two of the toilets in the house, plus one in the garage and the outside taps.

IN THE COUNTRYSIDE JUST OUTSIDE WORCESTER, HELENA AND MARTIN GLOSTER'S NEW HOME STANDS IN PRIDE OF PLACE ON A SPACIOUS PLOT NEXT TO AN HISTORIC MANOR. 'WE'RE REALLY HAPPY WITH WHAT WE ACHIEVED HERE,' SAYS HELENA.

oak barn style home lit up at night
oak roof beams
kitchen with feature oak beams

SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS & ENERGY EFFICIENT


From conception, Martin and Helena knew they wanted the house to be low maintenance and economical to run. “This is the last house we’re going to build so we wanted to make sure that it was efficient. Utility bills are constantly on the rise, and we don’t want to have to worry about them in the future,” says Helena. “It is really well insulated and we have specified a number of eco systems to ensure that the house stays efficient.” “If I could, I would have gone far more radical than we have,” says Martin. “I would have built underground and included a turf roof. But finding somewhere to do that nearby would have been impossible, so I just installed the best I could for this property and location. The oak frame has a SIPs wraparound – from SIPs UK – to insulate the walls really well. On the outside of all of the oak beams I’ve attached a 50mm x 50mm piece of timber, and the SIPs go on the outside of that, which means I can get my services behind the beams.”

 

Martin turned his hand to plumbing, too, and installed underfloor heating throughout the house. It’s set in self-levelling screed on the groundfloor and on an aluminium plate on the upper storey. “It’s a wet system on both floors. I’ve laid UFH pipes before so it was easy to do,” says Martin. “It’s far simpler than installing a radiator. I took photos of everything as I went along, so I can see where every piece of pipework is, which means if anything goes wrong, I’ll be able to rectify the problem without damaging the whole system.”


The couple researched numerous renewable heating options, as they are off mains gas, but decided on an LPG fuelled boiler. Although they were interested in heat pumps, Martin had concerns about the reliability of air source products over the winter, and found the cost of installing a ground source unit too prohibitive.


“Unfortunately, as we have an LPG system we were marked badly for energy efficiency by the building inspector. I made a point to him that the structure has been built in a manner in which we barely need to use the heating in the first place, plus we installed the smallest gas tank available and we only get it filled once a year.”

INSIDE THE OAK BARN HOME


Inside, the home is extremely bright thanks to a large open hallway and the sunroom, which is fitted with full height glazing. The hallway doubles up as a formal dining area and leads to the sunroom at the back of the house. To the right is the contemporary kitchen and utility area, and to the left are guest bedrooms, a main bathroom and the staircase. “We have a plot that has fantastic views and we wanted to make the most of them, so instead of having most of the bedrooms upstairs, we put the living room and study area there. We have the master bedroom upstairs too, so we get the best of both worlds,” says Helena. Their bedroom runs the depth of the house so benefits from full height glazing at the front and back, giving them stunning views in both directions. The living room boast the same feature. Downstairs, the kitchen is the couple’s favourite area.


The bespoke contemporary space is zoned off from the hallway with a laminated glass wall. “When we went to the Oakwrights show home in Hereford the whole downstairs was open plan. It was lovely, but I thought that it wasn’t quite for me,” says Helena. “I wanted to contain the cooking smells and we wanted to zone the heating, so we needed a divide. The glazing allows us to keep the light flowing through the house but separates the space for heat and comfort.” “When the company came to install the glass, we noticed a small mark at the top of the pane,” says Martin.


“On closer inspection, the mark turned out to be a mosquito that had been laminated into the glass. We couldn’t believe it! Thankfully they just took it away and came and installed another one.” As the kitchen is such an important room for the couple, it took a lot of leg work to get it just right in terms of design and specification. Helena was keen to have a range of pan drawers rather than typical shelf units, and had seen a model where the top and the bottom drawers were two different colours. “I really liked that idea, but decided, actually I wanted three colours. I wanted something a bit more adventurous. I really love red and wanted to marry it with some more neutral tones,” says Helena. “I took my idea to a number of different kitchen companies, but they wouldn’t do exactly what I wanted. They said they could do anything, but that meant anything as long as it was within their range.”

Eventually, the couple visited Hatt Kitchens in Kidderminster who they had used many years ago on one of their first projects. “We saw the same lady that we had seen all that time ago, and she was great. Everything I asked for she said yes to,” says Helena. “We have Corian work surfaces and moulded sinks. And the units are just as I wanted them. We had a couple of really tiny problems and they came out straight away to fix things. They were absolutely brilliant.”

The Glosters had a near seamless build – apart from a minor issue with the glazing company, who initially sent the wrong products. However, this was easily resolved and the couple can revel in their attractive and comfortable new house. “We built this home just for us, and I don’t care what anybody else thinks about it,” says Helena. “It’s a large home with only three bedrooms, and people often wonder why we didn’t plan for more – but we don’t need them. It is perfect for what we want – a really comfortable and efficient home.”

 

Words Courtesy of Anna-Marie De Souza @ Build It Magazine

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