Contemporary oak frame village home in Northamptonshire conservation area

Oak Frame Building Costs

Area: Northamptonshire
House Type: Contemporary
House Size: 435m2
Build Route: Oakwrights & PDT Turnkey
Build Time: 01 Mar 2018 – 01 Jun 2019
Build Cost: £2875/m²

Lucy and John’s self-build journey was born from their desire for quality and efficiency. The planning process was challenging for the couple, with the plot lying within a conservation area, but having a great relationship with Pete Tonks one of our Regional Architectural Designers, and choosing a turnkey project management delivered an exceptional home that met all of Lucy and John’s needs.

Originally looking at luxury developments within their local area, Lucy and John discovered that they were left totally uninspired by the ‘off the peg’ homes they viewed. Taking a step back, they looked at their options and came to the conclusion that they wished for a one-off home, that expressed their personality and met the high quality finish they were looking for. They concluded that the best opportunity to achieve this was to build their own home.

Although Lucy was more hesitant about the idea of self-build and the potential stress it could bring as a result of both working full-time, they decided to refocus their efforts towards buying a plot in a good location and self-building a high-quality home.

Lucy and John wanted to create a one-off home so opted to build their own.

Finding the perfect plot

“All the drama’s happened before the build of the house.” Says Lucy

The plot Lucy and John purchased is in a great location on the edge of a village, and although not in the original area they were looking at, they couldn’t be happier with its position. The plot was for sale with planning permission for a house, but not a design that aligned with their ideas.

The plot purchase was a slightly tricky business. The seller had made promises to neighbours and the parish council about donating parts of the plot to certain parties and then changed his mind. However, as Lucy and John really loved the plot, and with a little research and communication with their neighbours and the Parish Council they took on the reneged promises and donated a small amount of land to the council.

 

Choosing to build with oak

“We spent a great deal of time reading through self-build magazines” says Lucy, “as we hadn’t initially planned to build our own home!”

“We knew we wanted a home with the character you get from an older home but wanted all the advantages of new technology and high levels of insulation that you get from a new home.” explains John

Lucy and John went to the Homebuilding and Renovating show and visited several oak frame suppliers. On the Oakwrights stand the first person they met was Tim, our Founder who introduced them to Pete, one of our Architectural Designers covering the East of England. Here, they had an informal chat about their project and plans. “We felt that we got on really well with the Oakwrights team and sensed that they were excited about our project and also their products” says Lucy.

From this point on, both Lucy and John were sold on the idea of an oak frame that was encapsulated with a highly airtight system. The combination of which met their requirement for character and high levels of energy efficiency perfectly.

Honey coloured stone was used to blend in with the loal vernacular of the local village

Design and planning process

 

“As we hadn’t initially planned to design our own home, we hadn’t really written a brief and initially found it difficult to express our requirements” explains Lucy.

Lucy and John knew what they liked and disliked about their old home and knew they didn’t want a country cottage. “This is where Pete our designer was excellent at extracting details to put together a brief” explains Lucy.

The external design and materials of the house were influenced heavily by the conservation officer during the planning application. Many of their initial ideas such as a ranch style home with veranda and lots of glazing were dismissed by the CO immediately.

“The planning actually went to appeal which we eventually won, but we had to negotiate many design features and materials during the process. In the end we reduced the amount of glazing and used honey coloured stone for cladding, fitting in with the village. The slate for the roof is from Portugal, although the conservation officer was insisting, we used Welsh slate which is incredibly expensive. We fought very hard to use the visually similar and more economical Portuguese tiles.” explains John

Lucy and John chose to use our energy efficient and sustainable WrightWall and WrightRoof Natural encapsulation system to wrap around their structural oak frame.

 “We didn’t just love the WrightWall Natural for its excellent energy efficient features, we absolutely loved the much deeper walls and window openings that create the feeling of character and quality” says Lucy.

To work in harmony with our encapsulation system,  Lucy and John chose to install a Mechanical Ventilation system that provides filtered clean air all year round. Underfloor heating was installed upstairs and downstairs to avoid the need for radiators on the walls.

 

“We felt that we got on really well with the Oakwrights team and sensed that they were excited about our project and also their products” says Lucy.

The bedrooms all benefit from incredible vaulted ceilings with oak trusses framing the roofline.

Key design features

 

The entrance to Lucy and John’s home is dual aspect with a vaulted ceiling and glazed gable, although the family admit to tending to use the back door more! Walls on either side of the entrance incorporates oak frame and face glazing allowing natural light into the heart of the home and the hallway.

The open plan living/dining/kitchen area is a large and light space, easily accommodating the couple’s 10-seater dining table. Sliding doors were installed in this room that open directly out onto the patio where tables and chairs for outdoor dining are set out. Lucy did manage to have a section of veranda outside the living area in the south facing garden, which is ideally furnished with outdoor seating and provides a tranquil spot to relax.

Although Lucy and John like modern kitchens, the couple realised that the shaker style suited the character of the house better. The bespoke units are hand built by local joiners with lots of experience in producing extra deep cupboards. The joiners also designed and built the large centrally located island which incorporates a double breakfast bar. The kitchen is fitted with an induction hob and Miele easy clean oven, adding to the high tech, efficiency the couple wanted.

Just off the kitchen but still within the open plan setting, is a face glazed snug and seating area with large sofas and views out onto the garden. A place to relax and sit comfortably whilst keeping an eye on what’s cooking.

“We wanted a big utility” Lucy explains, and the joiners built the bespoke units, painted in ‘railings grey’. We chose to stack the washing machine and tumble dryer too, despite the site of the room, it’s an excellent space saving idea.

Away from the open plan living is a tranquil sitting room with grey walls and contrasting pink sofas all framed by oak frame posts and beams.

The stunning south facing sunroom with vaulted ceiling and glazed gable was originally supposed to be a gym, but became a quiet room to work from home since the pandemic and is now a glorious sun room and home office.

“We really felt that we didn’t want the staircase to be a feature in the house, more hidden from view so it is tucked along the glazed north wall, leaving the open plan living area to be the wow factor” explains Lucy.

The four upstairs bedrooms have the same open airy feel as downstairs. The bedrooms all benefit from incredible vaulted ceilings with oak trusses framing the roofline.

The couple’s two daughters were left to design their own bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms, choosing a marble and Spanish tile look. The master bedroom takes the entire front wing of the house and benefits from a dressing room and ensuite with a bath and shower. Facing North this beautiful room benefits from the evening sun creating an extremely relaxing space.

The stunning sunroom, originally meant to be a gym soon became a tranquil living area and home office

Turnkey project management

 

Lucy and John chose Turnkey project management for their self build. A turnkey service is fully managed by a Project Manager from our turnkey team, or through a clients chosen builder. This allowed Lucy and John to concentrate their time where they wanted too while easing the pressure of working full-time.  While Pete concentrated on Lucy and John’s design, his brother David was appointed as builder and Project Manager.

Although Lucy and John were very keen to be involved, they recognised their lack of experience in building, and felt a turnkey service would achieve the quality finish they desired.

Lucy was however, on site most days as it was just down the road from where she works. In March 2018 they started on site however, the arrival of snow meant building work ground to a halt.

Once build work started again, the house began to take shape quickly with the oak frame and encapsulation going up within a matter of weeks. The result being a high quality finish and a light filled village home, exactly what drove Lucy and John to choose the self-build route in the first place.

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