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An interview with Tim Crump | part 1

How did your background as a carpenter give you an insight into the possibilities of oak?

As a young carpenter in Herefordshire I spent my time repairing historic oak frames from which I developed a full understanding of how oak frames work and what the opportunities this wonderful material offers. Over time I moved from repairing oak framed buildings to designing and creating new green oak buildings and from their Oakwrights was born. 

Why do many of your clients choose to build with Oak?

Our clients have varying reasons for choosing to build with oak, but we regularly find the choice is because as well as being aesthetically pleasing, oak frames provide strength and security. An oak frame gives longevity to a home. We would expect one of our oak frames to stand for at least three hundred years – and it just gains more character as it gets older.

By combining centuries-old techniques with cutting edge technology, along with investment in training new generations of craftspeople, we can work with our clients to build a new home or extend their existing home.

What role does Oakwrights play in a client’s self-build project?

Customers commission us to design houses that meet the exact requirements of their families. With our team of more than 100 architects, designers and carpenters on hand, we can oversee every stage of a client’s the building process, from beginning to end.

This gives our clients a seamless experience, from initial design concepts all the way through to manufacture and installation on site. Our encapsulation systems that surround our frames are another important part of what makes our buildings stand out.

We strive to manufacture all elements of a client’s build within a controlled environment in our workshops helping increase quality while helping our clients save time and money on site.

What is the process involved in designing and building a client’s oak frame building?

Most of our customers will start the oak frame journey after seeing a picture of one of our houses in a magazine or after visiting a friend’s home.

When our clients approach us, they either have a plot or are in the process of looking for their perfect plot. We can offer building plots that we have on sale in different areas of the country or we can carry out an appraisal on their personal plot or house that they would wish to replace.

Alternatively, we may be looking at an addition to an existing house such as a garden room, garden barn or garage. Whatever our clients are looking for, our in-house architectural team can carry out the design and planning application on their behalf.

Once planning has been gained, one of our experienced oak frame designers will produce the oak frame design for the client’s project. Once this process is complete, we order the oak beams for our client’s frame.

Once the oak arrives, our workshop team use a combination of cutting-edge CNC machinery along with good old-fashioned carpentry skills to turn oak beams into our client’s beautiful oak frames.

We still use the carpentry marks that our forefathers used hundreds of years ago to mark each individual oak beam. It is these carpenters’ marks that tell the carpenter on site where each timber should go within the frame. Then comes the most fun part of the project and this is being out on site erecting the oak frame. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your home rise from the foundations to be a full oak frame structure within a few days on.

To stand back as a carpenter and see a frame standing on a site within our beautiful countryside that will be a home to families for generations, is a feeling that deep down gives true satisfaction and value to what we do as oak frame carpenters.

Once the oak frame has been erected, we proceed to complete the build of the home, garage, garden room or other addition.

Can you tell us more about Passivhaus and what this energy efficient standard is?

Passivhaus Certification is the highest level thermally efficient house you can build. Certification for this standard is complex and very challenging to gain and only houses built to the highest standard of thermal efficiency and airtightness pass. We are incredibly proud having achieved this standard on the UK first Oak Framed Passivhaus.

This house, located near the North Sea, combined a post and beam oak frame fully visible internally, with our WrightWall Natural wall/roof encapsulation system. This system wrapped around the oak frame giving a highly insulated and virtually air-tight 4-bedroom home costing only £126 for electric and gas to run a year.  A Passivhaus needs 90% less fuel for heating than an average four bedroomed house.