A dream family home

Build information

Area: Derbyshire
House Type: Oak frame
House Size: 929m2
Build Route: Self-build
Build Cost: £ 1,444,100.00

The oak frame gives a peaceful air to the adjoining pool and gym Photo credit: Mark Welsh

When Tracey and Anthony Smith made the decision to self-build their dream family home, they envisaged they’d wait years to find their dream plot however, a chance conversation at the school gates led to a perfect find.

“We’d read magazine articles about people who waited years to find a piece of land, so we were amazed to discover such a perfect plot so quickly. It was all down to the network of parents chatting at the school gates. I happened to mention we were hoping to build a house in the area and heard from one of the mums that her father-in-law was selling his bungalow.”

At the time Tracey and Anthony had already sold their house and were renting a property so that they could move quickly if they found somewhere to buy. After viewing the rural plot of land they fell in love with the 360 degree views and peaceful location. The 1970s bungalow that sat on one-and-a-half acres of land was dilapidated and the garden was overgrown but Tracey and Anthony knew it was the perfect place for their family home.

 

Something imaginative

Initial talks with the local planners indicated that they would be able to build a much larger replacement dwelling which triggered the couples search for an Architect. Even though Tracey and Anthony had always dreamt of one day building their own home, they were still unsure as to what style of home they wanted. Meetings were organised with local architects and the couple hoped this would help them determine what they wanted aesthetically however, this proved a lengthy process and none of the Architects came up with ideas that captured Tracey and Anthony’s dream.

“The designs were all for the type of boxy ‘executive homes’ that you often see on estates – nobody seemed to get what we wanted,” says Anthony. “We just couldn’t understand it, because we’d assumed that architects would be really keen to produce something imaginative and show us what they could do.”

However, after a visit to a self-build show, and a chance meeting with our Founder, Tim Crump, the couple fell in love with the idea of an oak frame house. “The company owner Tim Crump’s knowledge of his product made us confident,” says Anthony. “He’s absolutely passionate about oak framing.”

The couple worked with our Regional Architectural Designer, John Williams who spent time with the couple to truly understand what they wanted to achieve both aesthetically and functionally. After a visit to the site, meetings with the couple to understand their requirements and drives around other houses they liked, John came up with a traditional looking manor house that complimented the rural site.

The design created the impression of a house that has changed and evolved over time – including fake blocked up windows, decorative stonework and feature chimneys – while the interior layout and finishes were to be far more contemporary.

“The design process took almost a year because we’d wanted to build a house for so long that we were determined to get every detail just right,” says Tracey. “It was important to think about the room proportions and we also had to consider the structure of the oak frame and how that would affect the overall look of the house inside.”

The living room retains a cosy feel Photo credit: Mark Welsh

Designed with family in mind

“Like most families we tend to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so this was always going to be the hub of the house,” says Tracey. This is why the layout of the ground floor centres around a vaulted dining hall and an open-plan kitchen/dining/ day-room, with a separate sitting room, study and a utility.

A contemporary staircase rises up from the dining hall to the landing above, where you find the sun beaming through double-height glazing with far-reaching countryside views.  A vaulted section above the dining table allows views from the ground floor up to the high beamed roof structure above, creating a dramatic focal point.

On the first floor you will find four well-proportioned family bedrooms, a bathroom and two en-suites, with two additional guest bedrooms and a bathroom located at the top of the house. Creating a spacious six-bedroom property over four storeys meant that fire-rated windows, doors and other precautions were required to meet Part B of the Building Regulations.

We had wanted to build a house for so long that we were determined to get every detail just right.

Tracey Smith

More than just a house

Tracey and Anthony were in the fortunate position after the sale of their previous property that they could compliment their home with various outbuildings including a garage with room over for an office, a pool house and a gym. All designed with an oak frame to seamlessly fit into the landscape.

The build

The couple were looking enough to have a friend who was a builder who took on site management and another friend who took on project management of the build which began in May 2009. The couple were on-site most days taking photos to record their build progress.

Once the basement excavation and groundworks had been completed, the oak frame was delivered to site by our site crew and erected. “It took about four weeks for the frame to go up and everything went very smoothly,” says Anthony. “The pool building was the last one to be built.”

“There were an enormous number of decisions to be made – and then we had some really bad weather which meant that everything stopped,” says Anthony. “The hope was that we were going to be moved in by Christmas 2010, but by the middle of November I had to tell Tracey that it wasn’t going to happen. In the end we moved in during January 2011, before the house was completed, and lived here while the workmen finished off for another four or five months.”  

One of the challenges Tracey and Anthony faced, building such a large house was ensuring that it still felt like a home despite its grand proportions. “It’s at least three times the size of our previous house, but everything has been specifically designed for us as a family, which means that we do use all of the space,” says Tracey. “We love features such as the zoned lighting and being able to play music in every room. For us this is the ultimate house.”

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