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a hilltop in kent case study

A TIMBER FRAMED DREAM HOME IN WORCESTERSHIRE

RACHEL AND DARREN'S STORY

 

Rachel and Darren Luke at 27 years old purchased a plot in the Worcestershire countryside with an uninspiring 1980s house standing on it. The Luke’s found themselves in love with the location of their new property and all the history that comes with it, not to mention all of its potential.

 

Rachel explained “We moved here with our two young sons in the hope that it would become our forever home, not only was this a huge financial undertaking at such a tender age, but we were soon to learn that the property frequently flooded — and in the years that followed this caused substantial subsidence.”

 

When Rachel and Darren bought the house and surrounding land, which extended to seven acres, they had not been warned about the extent of the flooding issues that came with the site. “The ground around the house flooded the day after we moved in,” says Darren. “The house had little to no insulation or proper foundations and during a small earthquake that hit the area a few years later, suffered further subsidence issues.” Rachel added that “The house was dark, cold and miserable”. “We always had a long-term plan to replace it but we lived in it for 17 years without doing anything; instead we saved and planned for a new house that would alleviate the flood issues.”

OAK FRAME BUILDING COSTS

 

Area:

Worcestershire

House Type:

Oak Frame Self-build

House Size:

305m2 + 190m2

Build Route:

Oakwrights and Self-managed

Finance:

Private

Build Time:

Dec 2015 - Apr 2017

Build Cost:

1.2 M

kent oak frame

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PLANNING REQUIREMENTS

 

Planning for Rachel and Darren’s new home was passed within a few months. The key conditions being:

 

• That the replacement dwelling be no bigger than the original house.

• Archaeologists must be on site at certain parts of the demolition and ground excavation stages. This was mainly due to the importance of the historical ponds located on the plot.

• Both a flood risk assessment and wildlife report must be undertaken.

 

 

PROBLEM SOLVED

 

Due to the old house being demolished and a new house being built the Luke’s required a suitable place to live. A number of wooden stables on the plot were replaced with a new oak frame garage with room over. The new garage and room over gave the family a spacious kitchen, living and dining space along with two bedrooms. Due to the issues with flooding the garage was built on 33 piles, hinting at what lay ahead with the main house build.

 

Overhead power cables were also removed with new cables being sunk into the ground. Taking into account the Luke’s wishes for a modern family home with character, the new house was designed by Oakwrights Architectural Designer John Williams.

 

Darren explained with the main house build that “once the old floor slab came up, we discovered the remnants of a Victorian cottage, as well as another earlier wall”. Once again, the archaeologists were called to oversee the demolition.

 

 

THE DREAM HOME

 

“We had met a couple who live near to here whose timber-framed house we had seen and admired,” said Rachel. “We spoke to them to get advice; their oak frame was also from Oakwrights. To counteract the flooding problems the new house was raised one metre above ground level and a total of 81 five-metre piles had to be put in underneath” says Darren. Having dreamt for years about their ideal home, Rachel and Darren already had a clear idea of what they wanted from the space while John Williams brought their dreams alive.

'I WAKE UP AND HAVE TO PINCH MYSELF - I CAN'T BELIEVE THE HOUSE IS OURS! WE ARE SO VERY PROUD OF OUR ACHIEVEMENT.'

oak frame detail
oak dining room
contemporary Wealden-style design

 

THE FRAME

 

Once Oakwrights delivered the frame, it took a team of four site crew, seven days to construct. A local building firm, Furber Young Developments then carried out the remaining construction. Darren project managed the build and took on a large proportion of the additional work himself. “Our builders were amazing,” says Darren. “You just can’t overstate how important the relationship with your trades is. Any problems that arose were dealt with straightaway — nothing was too much trouble and we really felt they were super passionate about achieving the very best end product possible.”

 

 

INSIDE AND OUTSIDE

 

Externally the house has been clad in oak, with sections of render and a stone dwarf wall that extends up into the main chimney stack. The oak frame is hidden externally apart from in the glazed gables with WrightWall Natural encapsulation. This encapsulation system is designed specifically to achieve outstanding levels of insulation and airtightness, Wrightwall Natural uses 100% recyclable materials, lowering the energy consumption of the house and reducing heating costs. Darren reveals “at 0.9 air changes per hour, we’re almost at the Passivhaus standard of 0.6.”

 

Internally, the house is entered via an oversized pivot door into a large dining hall. From the entrance the doorways lead to the open plan kitchen living space and a separate living room to the other side of the house. The contemporary staircase made from glazed balustrades and oak treads rises through a double-height space to the landing above.

 

The first floor features a central landing and living space which makes the most of the views through full-height glazing, opening out on one side to a decked balcony. A ‘bridge’ running over the stairwell leads to the master bedroom suite which includes a walk-in dressing room and luxurious en suite.

 

The master bedroom is filled with an abundance of light from the large run of bifold doors, opening out to a half covered balcony with striking views out over the open countryside. There’s also a large triangular window that runs at the same angle as the roofline, which only encourages the appreciation of the surrounding landscape.

oak frame hallway

WHAT WOULD THEY CHANGE?

 

“There is nothing we would change — this house has exceeded all our expectations” says Darren. “Because it is our home for the rest of our lives, the spec inevitably went up, and with it the budget.” Rachel and Darren admit that at times the build was demanding and that they could never have predicted the amount of mess and mud that they would have to endure on site. “We did wonder if it would ever be tidy again,” says Rachel. This was due to the challenging weather, the amount of excavation and the delivery of 2,000 tonnes of stone for the house and sinking driveway. “But you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs and it has been so worth it. I wake up and have to pinch myself— I can’t believe the house is ours! We are so very proud of our achievement.”

sunlit oak frame

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