Planning consent for an idyllic barn-style holiday home

Written by Helen Needham – a Chartered Architect and our Architectural Department Manager


In early 2019, Oakwrights were approached to design a new oak framed holiday home in a stunning location. David Coleman, one of our Business Development Managers, and I initially met our clients to discuss their plot and new home design, while talking about the currently approved drawings they had for their site.


Recognising the potential of the plot

Our clients’ plot already had outline planning consent for a T-shaped holiday home in plan form. However, their vision was to revise the design and layout to suit their lifestyle, and to create the appearance of an American-style barn using a U-shaped plan form. We knew the site was sensitive as it was guided by a design code, and so we had to be in tune with that.

The setting looked amazing, with our clients’ future oak frame house potentially overlooking two lakes. I began sketching a new flow for the building and suggested a new orientation on the site to better capture the sunlight. Our clients wanted to create a central, two storey form with two single storey wings, and so with this in mind, I recommended for the west wing to be longer than the east for more light to catch the courtyard. They also had a strong vision to use vertical external weatherboarding, crittal-style windows, and a wood shingle roof. We thought overhanging eaves would enhance the appearance of their oak frame holiday home and furthermore, create solar shade. A stone plinth was suggested with stone buttresses to break up the long elevations.


The architectural design and planning application processes

Back in the office, our Architectural Design team talked-through the brief further, and Mariyana Hartland, a Chartered Architectural Technologist here at Oakwrights, created some initial 3D sketches.

David, Mariyana and I returned to our clients’ site to refine the placement and orientation of their holiday home, especially with regards to the neighbouring properties and importantly, their beautiful views.

Having met our clients and seen their site, Mariyana developed the 3D model even further. The single storey element was oriented to have views to the largest lake and the kitchen/dining/family areas to the most private side of the property, while the other single storey ‘wing’ of their oak frame house accommodates the guest bedrooms and en-suites. As our clients love symmetry, they decided each wing should be the same length.

Here is the initial site plan drawing which shows the position of our clients' holiday home

Our clients also like contemporary design, so Mariyana introduced an inset porch within their highly-insulated WrightWall encapsulation system that was wide enough to provide shelter. In addition, Mariyana and I thought barn doors would split up the front elevation proportion and create a secure external feature, and from here, we worked on the flow of the plans and the elevation proportions together.

As you step inside the floorplan, which can be viewed below, you are immediately welcomed by a generously-sized entrance hall and a lovely staircase with seating at the back, to make the most of the views to the courtyard. The front elevation shows a symmetrically balanced fenestration around the entrance. We considered some beautiful ‘scissor trusses’ to suit the low-slung appearance of their design, but indeed as the frame design evolved, even more suitable frame choices developed.

Our clients’ oak frame home boasts generous amounts of glazing on both floors to maximise light and views. The master bedroom can be found on the first floor and en-suite to the east, overlooking the smaller lake. At this level, to the west are two en-suite bedrooms.

While our Architectural Design team often prepare, submit and handle planning applications, in this case, we issued our drawings to independent planning consultants who carried out the previous planning application for the whole site, as this had a complex planning history. The planning process took longer than expected but was indeed truly worthwhile, creating a stunning oak framed design that our clients were excited to build.

A drawing to show the front elevation, designed by Helen Needham and Mariyana Hartland

Building Regulations, details and drawings

Following a successful design and planning approval, it was time to move on to the ‘detailed design stage.’ This is a service offered within our home design process, and includes preparing the Building Regulations drawings. For this project, these were managed by Craig Alexander; a Chartered Architect within our in-house Architectural Design team. A package of information sufficiently detailed for builders to quote accurately, so they can undertake the whole project in conjunction with the supply of the bespoke frame and WrightWall encapsulation package, was also prepared. This process is called a ‘construction tender,’ where typically three (or more) companies prepare a bid for the project based on the same drawings and information; ensuring ‘apples are compared with apples.’ I.e. everyone is quoting for the same level of finish and specification, so costs can compare fairly.

The first stage of this tender was to develop the planning drawings into more detailed drawings for Building Control submission. In this case, the work was undertaken in conjunction with Alex Knowles, an in-house Frame and Encapsulation Designer, who focused on the detailed designs for both aspects.

We ensured coordination at every stage; from setting out the building around the crisp vertical larch cladding (to ensure that all joins and gaps were even and no unsightly cut boards were required), to coordinating the internal layout and Mechanical and Electrical (M&E) features, such as the routes for the Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR) system. Both Alex and Craig worked closely with our Turnkey Project Manager, James Buchanan, to ensure coordination of the various other suppliers, including windows and doors, the layouts of bathrooms, and the kitchen and internal finishes.

A lot of time and effort was invested into setting the building out, with reference to the chosen vertical larch cladding board size. What initially appeared a trivial detail ensured the cladding was crisp and consistent around our clients’ entire oak frame home, with no uneven boards or cut ‘slivers’ of timber to make up an unconsidered gap. All windows and doors were sized to align with full board dimensions for added impact.

This drawing captures the vision for the rear elevation

Large scale drawings of the external finishes were prepared (1:5 and 1:10 scale), clearly showing how all aspects of the fit, finish, fixings and appearance of our clients’ future oak framed home had been considered from the inside and out. This provided information for the builders to quote and then construct the house from. Coordination of finishes, surfaces and construction details were considered at a large and small scale in plan, section and elevation, and coordinated with our Frame Design and Turnkey teams.

In conjunction with the detailed drawing package, we held a number of meetings with our clients and prepared a full National Building Specification (NBS) to support the tender and construction phases. Our Architectural Design team can quote for and offer this service in conjunction with our Building Regulations package. In this instance, the document read to over 140 pages and included agreed internal finishes, such as flooring and internal fittings.

We then passed all this information over to James Buchanan to manage the tender and construction stages, driving our clients’ aspirations for their dream oak frame holiday home forwards!


The team behind the design of this oak frame project:

  • Business Development Manager: David Coleman
  • Architectural design: Helen Needham and Mariyana Hartland
  • Planning: independent planning consultants
  • Building Regulations: Craig Alexander
  • Frame and encapsulation design: Alex Knowles
  • Estimating: Anna Davies-Wood
  • Project Manager: Chris Mullis
  • Turnkey Project Manager: James Buchanan
  • CGIs: Jack Feighan


Please note: the above planning consent story was written when this oak frame home was under construction on-site.

Planning consent for an idyllic barn-style holiday home

Download floorplans