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Nigel and Annie Laing, inspired by many episodes of Grand Designs, decided to commit to the challenge of building their own self-sufficient home. Nigel found a plot with an existing bungalow on a 10 acre site suitable for their smallholding. They were initially granted outlining planning for a 1 ½ story, 3 bedroom replacement build.
At the time, Nigel and Annie were living in an old property that had been stripped, by previous owners, of its period features and were looking for a characterful home. They realised that the best and most cost effective way to achieve this, was to build their own property which would also encompass their desire for self-sufficiency and sustainability.
They managed to secure planning for a 4 bedroom property to be built next to the existing property. This meant that they were able to live in the existing bungalow before it was later demolished.
The property was self-designed by the couple with the help of an architectural technician. Having met Carpenter Oak at the Self Build and Design Show in Exeter they decided that they wanted an Oak Frame married with block construction that offered longevity.
Wanting to reflect the surroundings, natural materials were chosen both in and outside the property. The ground floor is largely open plan with kitchen, living and dining room, there is a separate utility, larder and snug room. The floors are of slate in the kitchen and dining area. The kitchen is fitted with solid wood units handcrafted by a friend. The dining area was planned around a large reclaimed dining table of Annie’s. The table sits centrally in the room, surrounded by full height, floor to ceiling glazing that reaches the gable end. Exposed beams frame the stunning view out onto the small holding. The lounge area has engineered oak flooring and underfloor heating. The walls are a mixture of plaster and timber boarding, painted in a neutral tone.
"Watching the oak frame go up was incredible, and within three days it was fully erected. I almost didn't want them to build anything around it because it was so beautiful...."Annie Laing, Owner
Self Build and Design Magazine, December 2016
Upstairs the flooring is of reclaimed pine and rooms are furnished with further reclaimed items. The master bedroom takes advantage of the vaulted ceilings with floor to ceiling glazing in the gable end. The view over the smallholding and countryside beyond, once again framed by the exposed oak beams.
Every room of Nigel and Annie’s home features exposed post and beams with a sandblasted finish.
Externally the property has rendered blockwork on the ground floor, the first floor is clad in Siberian larch and the roof is of slate. The windows are a mixture of fixed glazing and grey timber windows.
16 solar thermal panels, a ground source heat pump and a 60m borehole allow Nigel and Annie to be self-sufficient.
Annie acted as project manager on the build, baking cakes daily to keep everyone sweet.
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.