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We hear a lot about barn conversions, but what happens when an old building is beyond repair? Jim and Susie Duffy were faced with exactly this conundrum when they bought a farmhouse and barn in Surrey. The barn was in very poor condition and had been subject to various extensions and alterations which had confused the interior layout, this lead the Duffy’s to consider a self build project in place of extensive repairs. Jim is co-Director at Add Architects and so took up the challenge of designing a new modern home that reflects the heritage of the barn.
“Some of the best architecture of today has a strong sense of materiality and craft as an integral part of otherwise completely contemporary spaces.”
Jim Duffy, Owner and Architect
The award winning Hart House takes the traditional simple, scalable and repeatable form of the English black oak barn and transforms it into a pleasing contemporary design that’s able to embrace the best of twenty-first century technology. Through the use of an oak glulam frame Hart House combines traditional craft with interspersed sections of timber and tight inline detailing, giving it a crisp contemporary feel. Framed buildings are essentially volumetric rather than cellular which allows huge scope for voids, floating staircases, bridges and vaulted spaces, all of which can be found within this home.
The Duffys' opted for an oak glue laminated (glulam) timber frame in place of the traditional green oak frame. The stability of the engineered oak glulam frame used alongside Structurally Insulated Panels (S.I.P's), supplied by Glosfords, created a structure that took out all the racking forces of the frame. Using this combination meant that large spans of glass could be incorporated into the building, whilst maintaining a frame that uses small sections of timber. Green oak frames can also be glazed with large spans of glass, find out more here.
The combination of an oak glulam frame with a S.I.P's structure meant that traditional dovetail connections and mortice and tenon joints could be used without the use of steel work and bolts. This gives the frame both a contemporary and traditional feel, which reflects the tradition of timber frame barns, whilst firmly being part of the twenty-first century.
"We were lucky to find the combination of Carpenter Oak, Simon Ballantine ( the engineers) and Glosfords, who were able to make the whole thing work together very efficiently , allowing it all to be erected on site in about three weeks."Jim Duffy, Owner and Architect
The Duffys' wanted a home that used technology and design to create an energy efficient space. High levels of insulation and air-tightness are achieved through the use of S.I.P's, and they have a heat recovery system installed in the home. Photovoltaic is used along the ridge of the rear pitched roof and evacuated-tube solar panels are in a concealed slot between the sloping roofs of the house.
Maximum penetration of daylight to all rooms is aided by a central roof-light in the house. Solar gain is taken into consideration as lower-angled winter sun heats up the exposed internal masonry walls and floors, whilst balcony shading over the tall ground floor windows prevents solar gain in the summer.
See more eco timber frame homes here.
Budget considerations are of course one of the primary factors for anyone undertaking an oak frame self build project whether it's a new build oak frame or a timber frame extension. 'How much will it cost?' is therefore a question which will be asked over and over and will almost certainly form a central thread of your project.
Overall build costs for a complete new build oak house typically vary from £1,500 to £2,000+ per square metre (referring to the useable area of the lower and upper floors added together) i.e. for a two storey property times the area by 2. We would suggest that you budget from £1,200- £1,800 per sqm (or £120-£180 per sqft).
For extensions we would suggest budgeting from £2,000 per square metre - don't forget to add VAT (for UK customers). It is worth noting that guide price is for a complete build based on a contractor doing the work with the timber frame is usually a 20-30% proportion.
If you intend to self build then expect to budget toward the lower end of the scale (although of course it may take longer!). There are several caveats with this guide price including the following key considerations:-
At every stage your decisions will affect the overall costs, from the complexity of the design to the level of finish. Engaging an architect will almost certainly save you money in the long run. Getting advice from us on the timber frame concept prior to going in for planning will minimise the risk of sending your architect 'back to the drawing board'.
We are happy to discuss your ideas with you at an early stage and can offer you advice along the way. It is helpful for you to build a scrapbook (you could use Pinterest) of your ideas and wishes – this makes your brief to us and your architect much clearer. Once you have a plot in mind we would encourage you to come and see us in the show barn at our yard to discuss your ideas in more depth and help you establish a concept design and rough costs.
You can meet with one of our frame designers and an architect if required (Roderick James Architects offer a free initial consultation). We can offer you an estimate for your budget costings at that stage based on a timber frame sketch scheme. You will then be in a position to draw up a planning application, knowing that you will be able to achieve what you want with the frame. We can offer you an accurate estimate based on a timber frame sketch scheme once you have architects drawings. Once your planning application has been approved we can get going on a detailed frame design for you.
Yes! We are happy for you to visit and look around. You can book in here to see the Show Barn or Show House. Or, pick up the phone and talk to us. Generally, our advice would be to wait until you have a plot and an idea of what you are wanting to build but we are very willing to talk through plans for a plot at any time.
At that stage you can meet with one of our frame designers, and a free consultation with one of the architects if you would like. You will get far more from your visit if you do this – it is a chance to really talk through the design, layout, style, costs, materials, options with everyone in one place. We look forward to meeting you!
We have two show houses for you to visit - read more about the different options.
As in most walks of life, if it looks too good to be true then it probably is.
We are different and instead pursue excellence – we look to be the best at what we do whilst maintaining affordability, accurate and realistic pricing – we seek the trust and loyalty of our clients as this is the basis of positive working relationships which last beyond the raising of the frame.
All of our Oak is from sustainably managed woodlands located around a single sawmill in Normandy, France (PEFC certifified). When this mill is unable to fulfil our order we divert to an alternative mill in Germany. The mills have access to a plentiful supply of exceptionally well managed and very high quality timber.
Why not use UK sourced oak, I hear you ask? Sadly, the lack of investment and good timber management for hardwoods in this country over many years means our domestic supplies are generally of a lower quality, inconsistent supply and can be more expensive. Although the situation will gradually change, it means that currently continental Oak is the best option for our framing. Carpenter Oak Ltd are investing in the future of UK woodlands.
For every tree used in a project we will donate 10 Oak saplings to an organised planting scheme in the UK
Douglas Fir and Larch all comes from sustainably managed UK forests.
Yes. If you are looking for a complete build or ‘Turnkey’ service, we can offer a solution to include each stage of the process, from the feasibility assessment, design, management and construction, right through to completion. We pride ourselves on being adaptable as every client is different. We can offer a number of routes for you and your project, depending on how involved you want to get. We aim to understand your particular situation and respond to deliver what you need. For many people that means us working as a contractor alongside your architect and builder, for others, involvement at each stage or a self build project. Get in touch to find out which route would suit your project best and we can deliver a range of options from a finished frame to a finished house, ready for you to move into.