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An oak frame home on a suburban plot in Coventry

After their children flew the nest, Martin and Tessa decided it was time to downsize. Just five minutes away, along a leafy suburban avenue settled seamlessly between the other houses sits their stunning oak frame home.

Project Details

  • Coventry
  • 2017
  • Country contemporary style
  • 210m²
  • £500,000
  • Self-build

Words from homeowner Tessa

Sat along a leafy suburban avenue in Coventry is this beautiful oak framed house owned by Martin and Tessa King. For the past 26 years the couple had lived just five minutes away from this site, in a five bedroom Edwardian property. They had made lasting memories here but as their two daughters had flown the nest, decided they wanted to downsize.

It was important to us we remained close to our friends so we began looking at properties for sale in the local area. Alongside more modern styles, we also viewed smaller Edwardian houses on the market due to the enclave of properties from this period in Coventry. However, as our home at the time constantly needed financial and structural attention, we ended up asking ourselves why we were looking to swap a big cold box for a smaller cold box with all the same problems! One day while driving down a nearby avenue we saw our future plot for sale, which consisted of land and a house with planning permission attached. It was then we started to consider the possibilities of a self-build project.

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Choosing to build with oak

While looking for inspiration, we took a trip to an Oakwrights open day at their show home, The Woodhouse. We were overwhelmed by the characteristics of the oak frame, and how it naturally defined the internal layout. We quickly made a reservation to stay there with our good friends Percy and Sandy, so we could experience for ourselves the feeling of living in an oak framed house. Choosing to leave our long-term family home was a difficult decision, so we later took our daughters to stay in The Woodhouse too. After an hour into our stay, our younger daughter came to me and said “Mum, you’ve got to do this,” and with the blessing of the whole family, our vision of building an oak framed home came to life.

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Key design features

Percy and Sandy had previous building experience which was extremely helpful as they were able to recommend Andrew Brooks Builders and some of the external contractors who worked alongside each other to build our home. We shared similar opinions with our friends in terms of design, and so to remain in-keeping with the avenue, built both houses using matching finishes such as Sto pre-coloured rendering, Velfac windows and the roofing tiles.

We loved our former Edwardian home but it was important to us that our new build was warm and comfortable. So, we opted for Oakwrights’ WrightWall and WrightRoof encapsulation system which fits our oak frame, providing high levels of insulation and airtightness. Couple this with our windows and doors, underfloor heating, wood burner and air recovery system; we now have the luxury of adjusting internal temperature without the assistance of any unwanted draughts!

Open plan living

We fell in love with the open-plan layout of The Woodhouse and this is reflected in our home’s internal contemporary design. Creating a welcoming entertainment area was important to us, so we worked with Helen Needham, Oakwrights Head of Architecturee, to design a double-height living space. The sense of space continues upstairs, where we chose to build three large double bedrooms instead of four smaller ones, which open out onto a bright landing area which overlooks our garden through our amazing glazed gable.

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Establishing good neighbourly relationships

Supported by additional encouragement from Percy and Sandy, we bought the land on the plot itself. To our delight, Percy and Sandy became our new neighbours too, choosing to purchase the original house on the right-hand side of the plot and remodel it; meaning we were building our future homes alongside each other! An arrangement with them enabled us to submit a new planning application for an oak framed house that was larger than the pre-existing design.

We were informed by the planners that the positioning of our future home was one foot too close to our neighbour’s property to the left-hand side. So, Martin and I decided to pop over and discuss the proposed plans for our build with them. They were extremely supportive and objection free, so we wrote a letter together confirming their approval on the matter to the planners, and the following day our planning permission was approved. 

Strengthening neighborhood ties

Our relationship with these neighbours grew from strength to strength during the build. We also made a conscientious effort to communicate with everyone living on the avenue throughout the construction process. From a project management perspective, we knew we needed to efficiently manage the comings and goings of a range of trades and subsequent machinery; however, we did not want to cause avoidable disruptions to our neighbours’ day-to-day lives.

Building dreams together

For us, building alongside our friends made our self-build journey even more of an enjoyable experience. Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves to believe this is our home: we love everything about it and feel we have a new lease of life.

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Tessa King, Homeowner

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