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THIS OAK FRAMED HOUSE WAS RESTRICTED BY PLANNING TO ONE-AND-A-HALF STOREYS

A STOREY AND A HALF CASE STUDY

SOME OAK FRAMED BUILDINGS ARE A STOREY AND A HALF

THIS OAK FRAMED BUILDING WAS RESTRICTED BY PLANNING TO ONE-AND-A-HALF STOREYS

 

Patience is a virtue, and never more so than when it comes to finding a plot of building land in this country. Sharon and Alistair Simmons discovered this for themselves after spending years hunting for land and then overcoming numerous planning, legal and environmental headaches before they could even start to build their dream home. Their 0.6 acre plot stands on the outskirts of the picturesque village of East Hendred, which nestles at the foot of a chain of hills, known as The Downs, in the historic Vale of the White Horse. The Simmons know the village well because they both grew up there, and many of their family and friends still live close by.

 

“We were living in a four bedroom developer-built property in Wantage, but desperately wanted to move back to the village where we’d grown up, ” says Sharon. “Building our own home had always been a dream, but any potential plots seemed to be snapped up by developers. We tried everything, and even resorted to knocking on doors to see if people would sell us part of their garden, but after a while we had to admit we were stumped. ” Fortunately, the couple then spotted a potential plot in the form of a semi redundant builder’s yard and – despite protestations from the local council that they would never be granted permission to build there – the Simmons persevered and continued to seek advice from various sources.

OAK FRAMED BUILDING COST

 

Area:

Oxfordshire

House Type:

Barn Home

House Size:

275m2

Build Route:

Builder & Specialist Sub-contractors

Finance:

Private

Oak Frame:

£50,425 

Build Cost:

£329,000

barn home in oxfordshire

elevations

floor plans

NEW OAK HOUSE PLANNING

 

“The site is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in what’s classed as open countryside, which isn’t suitable for development, ” explains Alistair, “but the fact that there was an existing business on the land went in our favour. Even so, it still took eighteen months to address the various planning issues, and our application to build a new house was recommended for refusal by the local planning officers due to the site’s location outside the village development boundary. ”


The local Parish Council was broadly in favour of the development, as it would eliminate the potential for any future business use on the site, and the Simmons requested that their application should be put before the planning committee. They then lobbied members of the council – managing to get their outline planning application approved by a narrow majority of just two votes. “There were no services to the site, and we had to pay for a land contamination survey as well as two ecological surveys for water voles and bats as part of our planning conditions, ” Sharon continues. “We were also restricted to building a one-and-a-half storey house, with bedrooms tucked into the roof space to reduce the overall height of the building. It means that we have no loft space, although the design does incorporate useful under eaves storage which is actually far more accessible.”

The Simmons quickly sold their previous home in Wantage but, the day after they exchanged contracts on the sale, they were informed that there was an unforeseen third party legal dispute regarding ownership of the access lane to their site, which held things up for a further eighteen months. After living with Alistair’s parents for several months the couple moved into rented accommodation in the village, and then discovered that – in addition to their two daughters, Annie (now 9) and six year old Josie – they were also expecting twin girls. 

“We found out that we were going to have Esme and Tessa very late in the planning stages of the project, and what was originally designed to be a galleried landing suddenly needed to become a fifth bedroom, ” says Sharon. “It also meant that, when work eventually began on site in the summer of 2005, I had four young children to look after and was able to spend very little time working on the house. ”

EXTERNALLY, SHARON AND ALISTAIR SIMMONS' NEW HOME RESEMBLES A SIMPLE WEATHER-BOARDED BARN, BUT INSIDE THE SOARING OAK FRAME AND OPEN PLAN LAYOUT THIS NEW BUILD FORMS THE PERFECT SETTING FOR MODERN FAMILY LIFE

EXTERNALLY, SHARON AND ALISTAIR SIMMONS' NEW HOME RESEMBLES A SIMPLE WEATHER-BOARDED BARN, BUT INSIDE THE SOARING OAK FRAME AND OPEN PLAN LAYOUT THIS NEW BUILD FORMS THE PERFECT SETTING FOR MODERN FAMILY LIFE
a family home by oakwrights
traditional oak framing

BUILDING A TIMBER HOME

 

The first job involved clearing the site, which was populated by an assortment of old machinery, surplus building materials, buildings and sheds, in addition to a huge asbestos hut which needed to be removed by a specialist contractor. Three years after they had first discovered it Alistair and Sharon could finally stand back and view their land in all its glory.

“We realised that we would need to get the tarmac surface and hardcore removed, and although we’d previously dug two trial pits for the contaminated land survey we had no idea what lay beneath all of the old buildings, ” Alistair explains. “Finally we could actually start work, and watched as the site was stripped back to subsoil using a JCB, and the slight slope of the land was levelled – resulting in 240 tons of spoil being removed. ”

The barn style house has sixteen corners, all of which needed to be square and accurate in readiness for the delivery of the oak frame, but despite this fact Alistair decided to set out the foundations himself – and made up a water level from a jerry can filled with blackcurrant squash and a length of clear plastic tubing to establish a site ‘datum’ level and check that the bottom of the trenches were level and the correct depth.

“We needed to widen the trenches by hand in places where the oak posts would go, and I managed to build muscles and lose weight with all the digging involved, ” he recalls. “My trusty homemade level might have cost just £20 to produce but it was deadly accurate, and I also used it to mark out the top of trenches – using white painted six inch nails to make sure that the concrete was level. ”

the barn home by oakwrights

THE OAKWRIGHTS GREEN OAK FRAME

 

The main frame of the house was designed, manufactured and erected by T. J. Crump Oakwrights of Hereford – with 262 pieces of green oak delivered on two lorries and craned into position before being pegged together in the traditional way. The house is made up from 23 separate frames, which took just four days to complete before the structure was ‘topped out’ with a branch from one of the Simmons’ own oak trees.

“With the frame protected from the elements we became the proud owners of a window-less wooden box, gift wrapped in paper, ” says Alistair. “Some of the neighbours commented on how dark it must be in the house with the lack of windows, and others thought that it must have been a planning restriction! ” It was February 2006 before the window openings were cut in, and Sharon and Alistair chose bespoke idigbo hardwood windows and doors made locally in a small joinery shop just three miles from the site. Their handmade clay plain roof tiles cost £450 per thousand and were supplied pre-blended so they could be fitted straight out of the delivery crates.

 

TIMBER FRAME DESIGN



The 275m2 house has been designed to resemble a traditional one-and-a-half storey oak frame timber clad post and beam ‘barn’, with high vaulted ceilings in the first floor rooms, and a predominantly open plan ground floor layout, which is ideal for a couple who have four young children to watch over.

Now the family are happily ensconced in their new five bedroom home, which boasts underfloor heating, creamy travertine flooring and pale golden oak timbers which are exposed throughout the property to maximum effect – highlighted against the off-white paintwork of the walls.

“When we first sat down with our pad of graph paper and sketched out ideas for a house we couldn’t have guessed that it would turn out like this, ” admits Sharon. “It really has exceeded our expectations and, although we still have a few things to finish off, we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel after so many years of waiting and hard work. ”

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