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Meet our oak frame self-builder homeowners

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Charlie supporting the installation of their cottage's WrightWall encapsulation

Crafting timeless oak frame homes 

From initial client discussions which transform into approved oak frame designs, through to our workshops, on-site construction and all the vital departments in-between; here at Oakwrights our teams work together, sharing their specialist expertise, to ensure every oak frame home, extension and outbuilding meets our clients’ exact needs and will last a lifetime.

In fact, members of our teams are so passionate about oak as a natural construction material and the amazing benefits a frame provides, they have self-built their homes with oak too!

So, if you have a vision in mind for your future oak frame project and/or you are researching the best self-build route for you, we would like to introduce you to our three-part Q&A series, where you will read first-hand experiences from the following oak frame homeowners: Charlie Mills – our Managing Director, Rupert Osborn – one of our Business Development Managers and Iain Hendry – our Scottish Project Manager.

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Turning vision into reality

Having purchased a plot on a rural development site in Herefordshire, Charlie and his Fiancé Helen’s home was inspired by Church cottage; one of six design templates that make up our country-style Cottage range. 

In Part 1 below, Charlie is first to answer a handful of key self-build questions based on their journey to creating their oak frame home…

Key self-build questions

Q: Which self-build route did you choose, and why was this route right for you?

A: We chose to self-manage our project and we got stuck in with donkey work where possible. From clearing our site and laying out bricks and blocks, to tidying up; we took on all the jobs you don’t really want to be paying a skilled tradesperson to be doing…

Neither of us were skilled tradespeople, so we did let the professionals take over as time was of the essence. We could have given a few things a go, but we decided to make the money back by being in sooner: not paying as much on our self-build mortgage and by spending time getting the best prices for materials.

Q: Why did you choose to frame your home with oak?

A: We love the oak for what it brings to our oak frame cottage; it’s tactile, has character and it’s beautiful. There aren’t many new build oak frame properties a young couple can buy!

Q: How did you finance your build?

A: Through a self-build mortgage from The Melton, via a broker who helped us prepare the paperwork for this. 

The build must be properly priced out and proposed to the bank who then ask a Quality Surveyor to evaluate the numbers and ensure they could build it out for the same cost. The payments are split over four/five stages, so the total loan must be balanced out into the stages such as groundworks, dry shell, first fix etc. 

This means they can lend you the next stage of money as you get to different milestones.

Q: Did you face any challenges during your home building journey? If so, how did you overcome them?

A: Bringing together the stairs was probably our most complicated element, as there was a lot to get right. We worked hard to ensure the finished floor height was correct, the stairs were positioned at the perfect angle and we complied with Building Regulations etc. Just thinking about it makes us feel tired!

We were given a lot of assistance overall by all the various trades involved and others who had built before. This helped us avoid major challenges but if you are self-managing, you have to think of the knock on to all the other trades, and where one trade finishes and another starts. There may be an overlap in some way or a “I don’t do that, they does that” situation, so just ensure clarity of the next steps and anything that may need covering.

Connecting the gas and electric was an interesting one too; you need your end supplier to provide you with a meter so the local provider can link it up!

Q: What three pieces of advice would you offer to someone planning a self-build project?

A: 1) If you have the opportunity to build your own home then stick at it, as it will all be worth it in the end! It is a long journey but an extremely rewarding one!

2) Know your numbers and use a mortgage adviser. The self-build mortgage application is a lengthy tick box process which an adviser/broker can assist you with. Having the project costed out gives you a target to meet and beat, while filling you with the confidence that you can build your oak frame home to your budget; the bank will also need this confidence!

3) Plan and understand the timescales of everything. If you can be working or planning two months in advance when you’re on-site, it will help avoid any potential delays. Some items have long lead times, for example, frames, windows, bricks and kitchens, so I recommend asking how long the current lead in is and then order in good time.