Planning was a challenge but success was gained on first submission, thanks to careful design work by Pete Tonks and an extremely comprehensive application, which was put together by Vicky. “If I was out driving and saw a new house being built in the area I would write down the address, then I’d go on the planning website to see how and why they’d been granted permission,” she says. “For our application, Pete did the drawings and I produced all the supporting documentation. We also put in a submission for a detached oak framed garage on the plot.” Ultimately the Parkers lived in the bungalow for three years with their children Oliver, now 10, and Charlotte, eight, before completely demolishing it in preparation for the build. They then rented a house in the village for a year while their new home was being constructed between July 2010 and July 2011. “By the time we’d been granted consent, the recession was having a big impact, and the first local builder we approached came back with a quote that was much higher than we’d anticipated,” says Simon.
“As surveyors we both understand property, but one of the best things we did was to get some professional advice where our knowledge was weak, which involved employing a quantity surveyor. He outlined exactly how many bricks, blocks and tiles we’d need, and enabled us to get very accurate quotes for the build costs.” With a detailed specification in place, the couple were able to tender to other local builders, and ended up engaging David Johns as the main contractor. They also commissioned an independent site survey, so that there would be no surprises once work began, and confirmed that the existing mains services could be used.
CONSTRUCTION OF THE OAK FRAME BUILDING
The plot was cleared and the ground excavated to allow for a poured concrete basement beneath the kitchen and dining room, which the couple say has proved invaluable given the lack of loft storage. Concrete strip foundations were used, with a beam and block floor. Living close by meant that the Parkers could visit the site every day to answer questions and keep a record of progress, as well as provide bacon sandwiches every Friday morning. “We also went to Oakwrights’ workshop to see our frame being made, and have pictures of the children sitting on top of the beams,” says Vicky. “We knew that it wouldn’t be possible for the Oakwrights’ delivery lorry to drive along our access road, but the neighbouring farmer kindly allowed us to unload the frame in his farmyard and it was then brought up to the site on smaller trucks.”
The oak frame structure was erected in just five days and Vicky and Simon were able to clamber up and sit on top of the ridge before the roof was tiled. A topping-out ceremony was conducted once the final timber was in place, and neighbours were invited to enjoy food and drink and watch the moment. The external shell was then formed using Oakwrights’ WrightWall& WrightRoof Light insulation encapsulation panels, making the building warm and airtight. “It seemed to make sense to choose Oakwrights’ own system, which is compatible with oak frames, and they installed this for us,” says Vicky. “Unfortunately we were hit by cold weather when the work was only half finished and the house ended up covered in a thick layer of snow. It was too dangerous to continue while there was ice on the scaffolding, so the build was delayed for a short time and we erected a temporary roof for protection. Other than that, though, the project ran very smoothly and everything was really well organised.”