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Designed by architect Roderick James for himself and his family, this house is an excellent example of what can be achieved by extending, remodelling and ‘hiding’ the existing run-down 1950’s concrete house. It includes an oak frame barn with arch-braced collar trusses, a painted Douglas Fir studio, and a bolted Douglas fir conservatory overlooking Old Mill Creek. Verandahs, balconies and timber cladding complete the exterior. Down on the creek is an oak framed workshop and boathouse roofed with oak shingles.
What can you say about Seagull House that hasn’t been said already in countless magazine and press articles over the years, and on TV programmes such as Grand Designs?
The word iconic can be overused, but in the context of thinking about 25 plus years of Carpenter Oak Ltd making timber frame houses, this particular build by Roderick James himself (an original founder of the company) marked the beginning of something quite special.
"Seagull house was the turning point for me in the reinvention of timber framing. It was pioneering, unique and inspiring for so many. Without it and what it achieved we wouldn't be here as we are today"
As well as being Roderick’s family home, it was also the show room/barn/design space that clients could meet with Roderick, to inspire and start the process of their own personal build adventure.
Seagull House was literally the template for what must be now at least several hundred successful oak frame house projects, and the beginning of a resurgence in traditional timber frame buildings (brought bang up to date using contemporary design) led by Roderick, his architectural practice and the skilled carpenters of Carpenter Oak Ltd.
For me personally, coming across Seagull House in a ‘self build’ magazine in 1994 was a WOW! moment. Then in 1996 meeting Roderick set in motion a career change to eventually work for Carpenter Oak Ltd in March 1999. So, many years on even though we have other show houses for you to view (Roderick sold Seagull in 2011) I have fond memories of Seagull House. And furthermore I still have that 1994 magazine!
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! Just pick up the phone and talk to us. We are happy for you to visit and look around. 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.
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 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 cant 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.
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 we do. In fact we can offer a number of routes for you and your project depending on how involved you want to get. We pride ourselves on being adaptable as every client, every project, is different. 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 to design and build a timber oak frame.
For others we can put together a team to offer a package of frame, SIPS, oak frame glazing and joinery which essentially leaves you a watertight structure on site to be finished off by you or your builder.
On smaller projects like cabins and outbuildings, or on local projects, we are happy to explore taking on the management of a whole build and can arrange for Planning permission and Building Regulations approval. This means you just have one company to deal with making the whole experience much more enjoyable.