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Featured in the Self Build & Design magazine December 2012.
Victoria Stael von Holstein and her partner Darren found the perfect plot of land in Cornwall on which to build their dream eco timber frame house. The plot came with a dilapidated stone farmhouse, which Victoria originally hoped to renovate. After consulting Roderick James Architects, whose magazine features Victoria had often admired, it soon became apparent that the existing house was beyond a state of repair. Amanda had always loved oak framed houses, and soon discovered the long-standing professional partnership between Carpenter Oak Ltd and Roderick James Architects, which would provide the dream team for a self build timber framed home project.
Victoria was very keen to keep the house cosy, while maximising the glazing aspect to let as much light flood in as possible. The layout takes full advantage of the country views, particularly the two large balconies leading off upstairs bedrooms. The practical layout downstairs creates large open plan spaces, with cosy spaces leading off – a snug, an office/bedroom and large boot room. A single storey green oak barn room extension gives additional living space. This very energy efficient eco timber frame house uses solar hot water and air source heat pumps. The triangular windows in the oak framed mezzanine level provided a contemporary twist to traditional features, with double glazing fixed directly to the green oak frame.
I love the challenge of building a large oak frame house like this one. Each frame I make has its own quirks whether it is the access to the site or the beautiful surroundings but then that is why I love this Job!
“Watching the oak frame going up was fascinating… everyone communicated and worked well together, so there were very few problems and the whole process ran extremely smoothly… watching the beautiful oak frame going up so quickly was probably the high point. Someone commented that it feels as though the house is hugging you because of the frame, which I thought was a really good way of describing just how comfortable and warm it is.”
Planning permission was approved with ease, but Victoria also had to commission a survey for the mass of bats which were using the existing farm house as their home! The outcome meant that a roosting space was integrated into the build, along with gaps in the cedar cladding. The demolition and subsequent build had to take place between October and spring, to ensure the bats always had a habitat.
The frame raising took our team of skilled carpenters just 4.5 days on site, which Victoria described as the "high point" of the project. The frame was then filled using Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), and the exterior was cladded using cedar panelling.
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.