A highly anticipated dream oak frame family home in Surrey

Oak Frame Building Costs

Area: Surrey
House Type: Oak frame and WrightWall encapsulation
House Size: 390m² + 141m2
Build Route: Oakwrights and self-managed
Build Time: 01 Nov 2016 – 01 Dec 2018

For nearly 25 years, the Rooks (David, Deirdre, and their daughter Jennifer) had created lasting memories at their family home, Lea Farm. The property was an established equestrian centre, nestled in 35 acres in Farnham, Surrey. Having made the decision to leave her banking role working in Central London, Deirdre successfully took on the management of the whole property, including learning on the job when it came to the equestrian business.

In late 2006, David was considering semi-retirement, so the couple wanted to be less constrained by the business and began exploring possible planning options at Lea Farm. They enjoyed living there but it was an expensive property to maintain, and so they had to determine how they could remain at Lea Farm with fewer upkeep demands of such a large property.

“I appointed a well-known planning consultancy and between us we had a vision to build four large dwellings on our land,” explains Deirdre. “We styled them to mirror a farmstead cluster of properties: the main house was to replicate a traditional, twin-gabled farmhouse which led to a courtyard housing three oak framed converted barns.”

Supported by their Architect, they received planning approval, and Deirdre then secured a developer who completed the development and built the farmhouse for them. Unfortunately, Deirdre’s oak framing plans was not truly brought to fruition, as the developer did not build the barn style homes she had envisaged.

Disheartened but undeterred, Deirdre held onto her dream of building a warm and welcoming oak frame family home

Choosing to build with oak

In late 2009, David and Deirdre were presented with the opportunity to buy Longlees Farm, which sat just to the south of what was then Lea Farm. They recognised the long-term potential of this six-acre plot and thought maybe one day this could be the site for their future home.

‘’We purchased Longlees, grew some vegetables, kept some chickens and then a few years later, Jennifer expressed her desire to return to competitive horse riding,” says Deirdre. “So, we bought an event horse, Paddy.”

At the time, Deirdre had to focus on the current development and oversee the build of their farmhouse, which they moved into in 2012. Once settled, Deirdre then started the long planning process, keeping in mind their dream of building an oak framed house at Longlees Farm. She began by upgrading the existing stables in an oak frame style and built a large ménage and horse walker.

“I never lost my vision to build an oak framed home,” says Deirdre. “The countryside views at Longlees Farm are truly breath-taking and I wanted my equestrian facilities to be styled to complement the house that I prayed one day would be granted.”

The equestrian facilities were completed by the time the planning officer came to the Rook’s site to assess the proposed footprint where a redundant barn stood.

“Fortunately, the planning officer shared my vision noting the newly built stable complex and expressed how the proposed house and the stable yard would complement one another,” explains Deirdre. “In June 2016 we received a unanimous vote of approval, and it is a day that will remain with me for a long time.”

In 2015, Deirdre attended a Homebuilding & Renovating show at Sandown Park Racecourse, where she met David Grey (our Sales Director).

“I then returned to the same show 12 months later and went straight back to Oakwrights’ stand,” says Deirdre. “I met with David again and Darren Blackwell (one of our Regional Architectural Designers) and made an appointment for them to visit me two days later.”

The architectural design works in harmony with the property’s natural surroundings

Key design decisions

Deirdre began working with Darren Blackwell and Sara Edwards, a Senior Frame Designer here at Oakwrights.

“Drawing on the recent experience of our newly built farmhouse, I learnt you do not always see everything at the early design stage and so you must make revisions even if they cause slight delays to construction,” says Deirdre. “If it does not feel right, you must be brave and make the changes. I had very strong ideas about not altering the initial layout of the house which did create some structural challenges for Sara. However now, what is immediately apparent is the thought that has gone into the design and layout of our home.”

As you travel up the 120m private gravelled driveway and through a set of electric oak gates, the Rook’s four bedroom home sits centrally to their stable complex which is positioned on the right-hand side, and a large outbuilding on the left that has accommodation above, providing the property with a fifth bedroom.

“I’m very much a symmetrical person and wanted everything to look and feel completely balanced,” explains Deirdre. “Naturally, the house required a decent double garage, a storage area for agricultural equipment and gardening materials, and an open-fronted parking bay. We submitted a second planning application to allow the room above our outbuilding to gain permission for residential use and it is where Jennifer and her fiancé, Tom, have been living. We returned to Oakwrights and appointed them to design and install the oak frame.”

The exterior design of the Rook’s home, comprising two dormer windows which are positioned symmetrically either side of a large dormer above the front door, immediately grasps your attention. The lime render and cladding material palette creates a clear visual divide between the storeys, while the timber blends seamlessly into the woodland backdrop. The frame design was governed by the half-hipped roof and the central flat roof which features a lantern. Though this is not externally visible, from inside, an abundance of natural light floods onto the landing, where the Rook’s sweeping staircase leads up to.

I never lost my vision to build an oak frame home…

Deirdre Rook

Stepping into the entrance hall, the oak frame carefully carves out the family’s open-plan living spaces.

“I used an aisle frame to support the roof, which required corner posts under the hips, inbound of the external walls,” explains Sara. “I also used hammer beam and post elements to minimise the number of posts inbound of the external frame lines.”

A key addition to David and Deirdre’s home are the oak pocket doors, which they chose specifically to tie in with their frame design.

“We incorporated a lot of pocket doors and they always receive positive comments,” says Deirdre. “As you enter the front door there’s a central staircase; we sleeved away the doors either side to allow the woodland to be visible from the minute you step in, bringing the outside into the house.”

There were two areas Deirdre and Sara discussed at length when designing the frame for this home.

“The Rook’s master bedroom was given the wow factor with the introduction of a pair of sling braces,” says Sara.

“The other area was in the dining room, where we incorporated lots of face glazing and stepping out onto the back of the property where the woodland area can be enjoyed,” explains Deirdre.

A pair of sling braces in the master bedroom add intrigue, drawing your eye outside and beyond

A future-thinking home design celebrates an unforgettable journey

“Our flat roof is an element that’s unique to this property,” says Deirdre. “Located in this hidden roof space are 12 solar panels. The surplus electricity generated by these panels is sold back to the grid.”

Additionally, the family’s home is run on an underfloor heating system powered by an air source heat pump which receives a Government subsidy. The Rooks also opted to prefabricate their oak frame with our WrightWall and WrightRoof encapsulation system, so their home stays cool in the summer and is insulated to feel cosy and warm in the winter.

 

The family moved into Longlees Farm in 2018, renaming it Oakview House, and have loved every moment of their time there. Due to an exciting change in family circumstances, Jennifer and Tom are now moving on, so David and Deirdre brought the property to the market and unsurprisingly within an incredibly short space of time, it has been snapped up.

“We have achieved a huge amount as a family during the past 10 years,” concludes Deirdre. “It has been extremely rewarding.”