Turnkey in the Thames Valley

Having welcomed the arrival of their son Jasper, Trevor and Sarah Rolls decided their beloved townhouse in central Newbury was no longer a practical home for their new family. They’d always dreamt of building a house and so set to work looking for suitable land to do just that.


Finding their perfect plot

The couple discovered a plot they liked nearby, however, it was gone before they had a chance to make an offer. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Trevor and Sarah, as although the plot had more acreage than they desired, the planning was only for a 3,000ft house and sold for £550,000. At this point they started to question if they were ever going to find a plot suitable until one day, they spotted an advertisement for a plot that their dream home now sits on.

Trevor contacted the estate agent but was told it had been taken off the market. Undeterred, he found out where it was and knocked on the neighbouring house to ask if the plot was still for sale. Due to prior problems with planning permission, the owner decided to save herself agency fees and sell the plot through Build It instead. She wanted £385,000 for the plot which Trevor accepted and later confirmed via a signed letter. This was just as well, as soon after the plot was published in Build It and received 25 initial enquiries.

Trevor and Sarah had purchased the plot with planning permission however, the design attached didn’t exude the open-plan space they wanted to create. So they reapplied for planning on a completely different build.

Trevor and Sarah dreamt of building their dream family home

Choosing to build with oak

Months passed before their new plans were approved but with the support of their planning officer, they were able to rectify any objections and received planning approval on a house that would remain in-keeping with the local vernacular; through the inclusion of lots of wood. Trevor and Sarah knew they wanted to build an oak framed home and drew a rough floorplan of their vision, initially asking our team here at Oakwrights to design and build it. As Trevor was in the process of selling his computer networking company, the couple opted for our turnkey service, where we project managed the entire build from start to finish.


Key design features

The brief for our Architects was to create a four bedroom house that was light and open-plan. This was achieved through the design of aspects such as the double-height window in the ground-floor living area and the massive leisure space in the basement. As they couldn’t extend the original footprint of the plans by more than 10%, they opted to dig down to create this basement space.

Trevor and Sarah love the contemporary characteristics of their oak frame, so they let the look speak for itself and instead chose to incorporate technology into the property in the form of their home automation system and high quality audio-visual equipment. Yes, they can control the lighting, security and TV while lying in bed but there is also a very practical side to their modern touches: for example the cover on their swimming pool is child-safe. If the pool is unused for more than five minutes, it will cover itself to prevent any potential dangers.

Once the base was prepared, the oak frame was up in no time. Aspects that Trevor and Sarah found expensive were the basement, staircase, lighting and the home automation systems. However, features such as the frame, bricks and tiles remained the same.

The double-height window in the ground-floor living area creates a beautiful light space

Project management support throughout their home building journey

Lack of access initially proved challenging for Trevor and Sarah, as it involved squeezing past a Grade I listed church, located down a narrow lane, to get to their site. Vehicles larger than a six-wheeler truck were not allowed, so, their turnkey project manager located a place where all articulated vehicles could safely offload and then arranged for the materials to be shuttled to the site on smaller vehicles, tractors and trailers.


“I love the house,” says Trevor, “I love seeing people’s reactions. The front of it looks quite ordinary, but when they come in through the front door and see the wood, the glass and the views, it’s always ‘Wow! ‘.”

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