timber framed houses by oakwrights

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BRAND NEW BARN

TIMBER BARN STYLE HOUSE (RE-VISITED)

A BEAUTIFUL TIMBER FRAMED BARN STYLE HOUSE IN ESSEX

 

When Martin and Kelly Guest bought the property which now sits next door to their self-build, they had no idea of the potential they were about to unlock. “It was marketed as one property by the agents,” explains Martin. “It had, at times, been subdivided into two and, at other times, it had been used as just one house. We had planned to live in one part and rent out the other, but until we saw the deeds, we hadn’t realised that what we were buying in 2001 was legally two separate dwellings.” Initially they thought nothing of this; it took some time for them to appreciate that they had purchased a site where a replacement dwelling was a possibility —and one where they could stay in their existing home whilst the building work was undertaken.

 

In 2003, they approached a local architect, Clive Richardson, and together put in an application to demolish one of their two properties and build a large house in the grounds. The planners seemed surprisingly relaxed about this and were happy to accept a 30% enlargement — and as the site is quite isolated, there were no neighbours to object. So instead of getting involved in a lengthy planning battle, they simply had to decide what to build on this site.

Martin had spent many years working as a carpenter and had already decided that this was a site suitable for an oak framed house, and they initially put in a design for a Dutch barn-style house with a mansard roof. This was the one feature the planners didn’t appreciate and so they resubmitted plans with a more conventional pitched roof. With planning permission granted, they were ready to start, but first needed to sell one of the houses they had bought back in 2001 in order to float the project. This held matters up as there was a dispute over a shared access arrangement which took nine months to resolve.

TIMBER BARN COSTS

 

Area:

Essex

House Type:

Barn Home Collection

House Size:

288m2 + 57m2 Games Room

Build Route:

Oak Frame Package & 
Main Contractor

Finance:

Private

Build Time:

Oct 2004 - Oct 2006

Frame Cost:

£96,000 (inc. Cart Shed)

Build Cost:

£770,000

 
an oakwrights barn style home

elevations

floor plans

APPROACHING AN OAK FRAMING COMPANY

 

During this period, Martin began approaching oak framers with a view to getting quotes. “I originally looked at building the oak frame myself but soon realised the amount of work required, so I decided to look for an experienced business which could also offer a structural warranty. I got on really well with Tim Crump of Oakwrights and went over to their workshop in Hereford. I liked what I saw and established that we could afford to work with them on this project.” It wasn’t until October 2004 that work started on site. The oak frame arrived in December. “Oakwrights were great to work with,” says Martin. “Just five months from the first contact with them, the oak frame arrived on site and was erected in seven working days. All of a sudden I had a post and beam shell that looked out of this world.”

 

However, as far as Martin and Kelly were concerned, the frame erection only marked the beginning of their labours: it took a further 22 months to finish the house. There is a strong family and community feel about this self-build. Many of the people that worked on the project were either related to Martin and Kelly or had known them since childhood. “I had my brother-in-law and a young lad helping me for much of the time, but nevertheless I ended up undertaking a huge part of the work myself,” says Martin.

 

RED CEDAR CLADDING

 

The house is designed in an American style, with the posts and beams entirely enclosed within a timber-clad wall. The first job was to bolt CLS (Canadian lumber sizes) timber onto the oak frame to build up the external walls. “All the external timber was chosen for its quality and durability,” explains Martin. “The western red cedar cladding is about four times more expensive than pine, but it has a life expectancy of 60 years untreated and it has not shrunk, twisted or cracked. All the other external timber is hardwood using either oak or iroko. I have seen too many houses built using softwood and it deteriorates very quickly in seaside locations like this. “The joinery was made by a friend I met at college 20 years ago where we both studied carpentry and joinery. He has his own workshop where he has made the staircases."

MARTIN AND KELLY GUEST HAVE BUILT A SPACIOUS OAK FRAMED, BARN-STYLE HOUSE, KITTED OUT WITH THE HIGHEST QUALITY FIXTURES AND FINISHES.

A SPACIOUS OAK FRAMED, BARN-STYLE HOUSE
barn style home kitchen
a brand new barn revisited

THE MASTER CARPENTER

 

Another family member who helped with the carpentry was also trained at the same skill centre by our ‘master carpenter’, as we called him. He would not let us use power tools. We had to learn the hard way, but this had kept us in good stead. Kelly played her part too: “She was the inspiration when it came to finishing the internal parts of the house,” smiles Martin. “She chose all the bathrooms, the kitchen, granite worktops, tiles and the colour schemes, and she decorated the house.” Martin has a keen interest in new building techniques and energy efficiency – he recently trained as an Energy Assessor – and he employed several unusual methods in the construction of the house. “I would thoroughly recommend using a self-levelling floor screed. It is pumped into the house and has the consistency of soup, so you have to make sure the plastic membrane it is poured onto has no holes, especially on a block and beam floor, which we have here. It was finished in a matter of hours and was dead level the next day.”

 

Overall, the project went about 10% over budget —something that doesn’t bother Martin too much. “We put a lot of money into buying quality fittings throughout. We have Fermacell board instead of ordinary plasterboard — it’s much heavier and is great for soundproofing. And, also, things like having the brickwork done using a Flemish bond with white cement gives the house an older, more weathered look. It must have worked because we recently had it valued and the estate agent asked me when I finished the barn conversion, which made me smile.”

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