Carpenter Oak - The Professional Timber Framing Company
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A Funky Luxury Timber Framed Tree House

Amazing luxury tree house structure constructed using a Douglas Fir frame

This exciting, remarkable, contemporary structure is described as a ‘tree house’ although it is not strictly so, as it is accessible from the ground and is entirely self supporting.  The client’s brief was to create a structure which felt like a tree house and allowed them to be at tree canopy height to enjoy the wildlife from the balcony; the effect that the client wished for was achieved by cantilevering the whole building, creating a free standing tree house.

Timber had to be selected that was very high grade to withstand the pressure placed upon it.  At the prow like end of the build the large sliding doors face out towards the tree canopy giving an uninterrupted view from a perspective usually only seen by the plentiful wildlife.

At Carpenter Oak we thrive on challenging new designs – have you got some ideas but not sure what’s possible? With us anything’s achievable, give us a call to discuss your plans and we’ll make them a reality.

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Meet The Team

Lead Carpenter:
Architect:
Frame Design:
carpenter-oak-quality-timber-frame

Paul Kirkup, Frame Designer

"The unique design of this neat structure elevates the clients into the tree canopy on the same level as the abundant wildlife."

This was a very challenging site to work on.  A steep slope strewn with large granite boulders often found in this part of the world really tested the team of carpenters at Carpenter Oak. Ordinarily the posts supporting the frame would be constructed in concrete, as some were in this build, but some utilised the granite boulders. This involved surveying the site and then cutting each of the eight posts to ensure it was the right length. It was not possible to bring a crane to the site due to the many trees, so timbers were hand trolleyed to the upper platform and then dropped down through the platform to the ground below.

319 Oak Saplings

Planted For This Project

Oak Saplings planted - Carpenter Oak We arrange for 10 oak saplings to be planted for every tree used to build your frame. Read More

The frame was constructed from Douglas Fir and braced with a complex web of steel cables which strengthen the frame without adding bulk, the bright open plan living space above would not have been possible without this type of construction.

The frame was constructed at the yard and much of the steel framework was fitted there too which aided a smooth and problem free frame erection on site. The cladding on the outside of the frame was Western Red Cedar - read more about cladding here.

Douglas Fir
The tree house was constructed using Douglas Fir, find out more about the versatile material...
The Marriage of Steel and Timber
Stainless Steel Shoe on Contemporary Douglas Fir Timber Framed Tree House on Dartmoor
The entire building rests on a Douglas Fir frame with steel bracing - find out more about this combination...
Do you need an architect?
We enjoy working with any architect of your choice, we can also recommend a range of trusted award-winning practices to suit you. Find out more
Map - where we have worked
See where we've worked near you
View our fantastic new interactive map that showcases our work around the country. Check out our new interactive map
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Your questions answered...

  • How much does a Carpenter Oak frame cost?

    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.

    The cost of building a New Build Oak Frame House or Timber Framed Extension

    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:-

    • Oak Framed Boathouse, Lake Windermere

      Oak Framed Boathouse

      Access:- Difficult access effects the whole build not just the timber frame aspect, but don't panic if your site is tricky as there is usually a solution for the most extreme cases. We love a challenge at Carpenter Oak Ltd.
    • Size - smaller doesn't necessarily mean cheaper!
    • Ground conditions
    • Specification ie Kitchens alone can vary from £1,000 to £100,000.
    • Design and shape. A house designed with a timber frame in mind from the outset will be more efficient to build. Consider this at the planning stage.
    • Complexity of the building and its shape. A 'H' shaped will be more expensive to build than a rectangle.
    • Good information and knowledge from the architect, builder, timber framer and the rest of the team you employ.

    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'.

    • A timber frame can be a simple primary structure or a partial one in a certain area of your house. It can incorporate fully raftered vaulted roof spaces, mezzanine floors, balconies and fully joisted areas, all of which will affect the price of the frame. Areas such as the roof structure can be done in revealed oak frame or can be entirely hidden and done by your builder in softwood. This will affect your overall cost to some extent but will vary the value of our work significantly.
    • The timber frame is just one element of your overall build cost and can typically range from 15% - 30% of the overall figure.
    • All of our frames are unique and so there are no standard price or designs. We do show a variety of designs in our pack however with corresponding frame prices and overall build prices which will help you to get a good sense of the cost. The cost of a frame often ranges from £300 - £500 per square metre.
    • As soon as you have architects drawings, we can offer you an estimate for the manufacture and raising of the frame. We generally offer clients a fixed price.
  • When should I approach you?

    The Carpenter Oak Show Barn in DevonWe 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.

  • When can I talk to you about my ideas?

    We encourage you to talk to us at an early stage. We welcome hearing about your ideas and plans and can offer you advice along the way. Obviously we hope to be able to build you an oak frame when your new build or extension comes to fruition and if you include us in discussions about design and site particulars at an early stage it will enable your architect to understand the requirements of the timber frame and incorporate them into the overall design early on. This is likely to save you money, time and hassle in the long run.
  • How affordable is a Carpenter Oak timber frame?

    We are proud of our product, service and materials, and provide great value for money.

    kitchen-interior-oak-framed-extension-inglisIt would be understandable to assume that being a sizeable company we are therefore more expensive but this would be a mistake - we put a great deal of effort into ensuring we are competitive without compromise! We build and raise in excess of 60 frames a year. We are experts in timber framing and can offer you the assurance of a fully insured highly skilled team, with the economies offered by our size.
    Crucially by choosing Carpenter Oak Ltd, you are choosing a whole team – a client manager to facilitate the initial stages of your enquiry and and ensure your requirements are fully understood, the Frame Designer who works intensively with you and your architect to interpret your brief and develop a detailed design which fits into your overall building, the Project Management team who oversee the making and raising of your frame and a team of skilled Timber Framers who undertake the workshop carpentry and raising. Each step is crucial and we have a vey committed, skilled and experienced team. Meet the team here. 
     As in most walks of life,  if it looks too good to be true then it probably is.
    You get what you pay for and if price is the only factor which drives you then you will always find someone who is willing to cut corners and do things cheaper. We are confident in our competitiveness and can say with some experience that there will be a reason for a substantially lower price even if it is not obvious to you. This can mean that things have been left out of the price (a common tactic) or it can mean that the service you would receive in terms of project management and design support and guidance is not as complete which can simply increase your costs elsewhere. It can mean a lesser grade of materials, less time spent on the craftsmanship or cheaper less skilled labour.
    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.
    We highly value our reputation and this can only be built on getting things right with you, our client.
    We could save thousands of £'s by compromising on the quality of our materials but we never would. See our materials page.

  • Are Carpenter Oak’s frames made by hand?

    tools-and-tea2 We only use handheld tools and power tools (such as chain morticers, circular saws and drill) to cut and shape the timber. We are adaptable – we design and build bespoke frames (not repeat designs), often incorporate large beautiful curves within them and utilise a huge variety of structural framing techniques. Skilled carpenters adept in all the techniques and who can use their judgement in the selection of every timber and the cutting of every joint are therefore critical. The same carpentry team carries their understanding of the frame right through to seeing it raised on site. We do not use large automated 'Hundegger' CNC machines to cut whole frames. We don’t believe in this way of doing things for a number of reasons: Hundeggers reduce your options – they only handle planed timber and give the finished frames a homogenised look (check the curved braces), they can't cope with large curved timbers such as slings and curved ties and, since the programming of the machines is so time consuming in relation to the cutting time, they are ideally suited to repeat designs.
  • Where does your oak come from?

    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.

    Read more about our Materials

  • Do you offer a ‘Turnkey’ (complete build) solution ?

    Cabin with Lake View constructed from Douglas Fir Timber with Western Red Shingles by Carpenter Oak Ltd Devon

    Image courtesy of Michael Harris

    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.

    Find out more about Carpenter Oak's Complete Build solution
    Click here to visit our 'What We Do' page.