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John and Ann Sterry have spent the past 40 years living in Bristol and were looking to relocate. Nearing retirement, they wanted a Worcestershire based plot that offered a leafy suburb. Having previously lived in a 300-year-old home, they were looking to build something modern and light but with similar finishes. Their solution, an oak house of light that provided a modern country home.
With some tricky times at the planning stage John and Ann would recommend being on good terms with the planning office. They also found it beneficial to speak to neighbours to establish any concerns to enable them to reassure or adapt plans accordingly. Hiring a local planning consultant, who had a fuller understanding of the planning guidelines, helped them to finally secure their planning consent.
The couples son, Robert, was appointed as architect for the project. Roberts ideas were inspired by John and Ann's love of timber framed buildings.
The project was managed, in the most part, by local contractor Chris Washbourne and architect Robert Sterry (Paul Archer Design). This worked well for John and Ann as Chris employed his own team that he knew would perform well.
The fundamental idea was to build an oak frame house that could integrate new technology and make use of sustainable energy resources.
Spending most of their time in the main living area, John and Ann wanted to open it up to the roof. They were happy to compromise on bedroom sizes in exchange for the beautiful, natural, light filled environment.
“We wanted a lighter environment than our previous house, while retaining similar finishes such as the use of oak and stone flooring.”John Sterry, Build It Magazine, January 2017
John and Ann came to visit the team at Carpenter Oak, Devon, to discuss their ideas at the early stages.
“The team at Carpenter Oak worked with Robert to produce a frame that matched up to our hopes. They understood what we were trying to build from the beginning and maintained good communication throughout the manufacture and erection of the structure. The oak frame is integral to the house design and gives it real character by displaying traditional shapes and materials in a modern setting, which is what we wanted.”John Sterry, Build It Magazine, January 2017
The frame was unusual in that it didn’t have tie beams at eaves level, but instead had very high collars in the roof spaces.
“The span and truss arrangement required the central floor beams to be 350mm deep in order to withstand the the loads. The straight bracing, rather than curved, creates a contemporary feel but it still features traditional joints.”Paul Slemmings, Frame Designer, Carpenter Oak
The plain white interior works as a canvas to display the composition of oak, stone, brick and glass. If the oak frame is the heart of the property then the other natural components and use of light provide the soul.
The frame took 2 ½ days to raise and was a straightforward process. This was aided by John and Ann sending pictures of the site and access details to ensure that the lorry and crane could get through.
The Oak frame was then wrapped in SIP’s creating a fully weathertight space in a relatively short amount of time. John and Ann chose the SIP’s wraparound system to give a high level of insulation and airtightness.
Achieving good energy efficiency was important in every aspect of the building, several systems were put in place in attempt to be as self sufficient as possible and minimise utilities.
“The house is warmed with underfloor heating, fuelled by a Valiant ecoTec boiler connected to a Megaflow pressurised water system and tank…….A Vent Axia mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system (MVHR) captures warmth from stale air and redistributes it thought the house as part of a fresh supply.”Richard Webber, Build It Magazine
Solar thermal panels supply hot water during most of the summer months. In Hindsight John and Ann would have chosen solar photovoltaic panels as their systems use a substantial amount of electricity.
John and Ann also installed a 3,000L underground rainwater tank which is filled from the roof’s downpipes. This water is filtered and used for flushing toilets and the washing machine.
Further details and costings can be found in Build It, January 2017.
2012 Oak Frame Cost - £29,890 Project Cost (excluding plot) -£446,056.Contact us to discuss your own project and ideas.
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