A traditional new build oak frame home in a Buckinghamshire village

Project overview:

Area: Buckinghamshire
House Type: Country home
House Size: 445m2
Build Route: Oakwrights and self-managed
Build Cost: £989,000.00

For Geoff and June Gaffney, what began as a self-build dream to design and construct a modest property to downsize to, became a large family home after a 12-month period of honing their home building ideas.


Choosing to build with oak

In 2009, Geoff and June were happily living in their traditional cottage when they noticed an advert for oak frame homes. Falling in love with what they saw, the promptly requested a brochure, and from that moment, their journey to finding a plot began. By chance, a plot became available close to their existing house which offered unrestricted views of the countryside and lots of space to build.

Geoff and June’s offer on the plot was accepted at which point they appointed our Architectural Design team to bring their ideas to life. The design took around a year to perfect, as the couple spent time finalising their wishes for their new home. Initially, Geoff and June wanted to build a modest home, but after considering their large family, they chose to add two extra bedrooms and increase the footprint of the kitchen for entertaining.

The challenge for our Regional Architectural Designer, Pete Tonks, was to gain planning permission for a larger house as a replacement for a bungalow which was around a quarter of the size.


The planning application process

Once Geoff and June were happy with their home design, their plans were submitted to the local planning department for approval, who, unfortunately had reservations over the design.

“They said that the type of house we wanted to build didn’t blend in with the rest of the village,” says June. “However, we knew that there were plenty of other brick and oak houses, so we went round and physically counted them so that we could put a case forward to support our design. Part of the front of our new house is also rendered, as well as the brick, which again caused issues.

As a result, our home needed to be slightly repositioned within the plot to make the most of the natural light and warmth from the sun,” continues June. “We also had to install a ground source heat pump (GSHP) as we weren’t allowed to use oil for heating. We didn’t see these alterations as a problem as such; it’s just how houses have to be built now so that they’re more efficient. The GSHP has been brilliant though; it’s really efficient and heats everything in the house well.”

Finally, Geoff and June had to agree to install a bike stand to meet the local planning authority’s demands, which they complied with, and the plans were finally approved in 2011.

“In the end we didn’t have to make too many compromises; we essentially got everything we wanted, it just took time to tweak the design,” adds June.

Stunning views from the first floor living space

Key design decisions

Downstairs, Geoff and June’s kitchen/dining/sitting room space has been particularly successful for their family.

“The kitchen was important because everyone seems to gather in there,” explains June. “We also opted for a formal dining room, which can comfortably seat 20 people, so suits our family life well.”

The informal dining space in the kitchen also sits within a single story section of the house and so benefits from rooflights and views out over their garden.

To further increase the sense of space throughout the family’s home, a double-height atrium features a wrap-around staircase, complete with glass balustrade, which offers a grand entrance. The oak frame gives the whole house a warm and welcoming atmosphere and is perfectly in line with the look that the couple wanted to achieve.

“One of our previous homes was a converted barn and our old house not far from here was a traditional cottage, so I think you’re either a beam person, or you’re not,” says June.

Stepping upstairs, Geoff and June’s new oak frame home boasts five spacious bedrooms.

“We could have probably fitted another one in, but we preferred to have more space in each room, rather than feeling crammed in,” says June.

There is also a comfortable sitting room off the galleried landing on the first floor showcasing the beautiful exposed oak beams, with a large balcony that overlooks the surrounding countryside.

I had always wanted to build my own home and everything just seemed to fall into place.

Geoff Gaffney

Building their home in right place and at the right time

As a result of their year-long planning process, Geoff and June’s building work didn’t start until February 2011. The builder began laying the foundations in April 2011 and once they were in, we took over to erect the oak frame.

“It was up within three weeks, which we were very impressed with,” says Geoff. “There was a planning issue with the very narrow lane to the site which we overcame by making the turning area big enough to turn an articulated lorry within our site. This meant no neighbour obstruction, and our neighbours were very accommodating during the build.”

Once the frame was erected, the couple and their builders were left to finish the build.


“We didn’t think we would ever build our own house,” admits June. “When the children were growing up, sometimes you have these dreams but don’t ever think you will be able to fulfil them. As we got older and circumstances changed, we just decided to go for it. If the plot hadn’t come up, we might never have done it, but everything just seemed to happen at the right time.”

A traditional new build oak frame home in a Buckinghamshire village

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