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In 2010 The Duchy of Cornwall approached Carpenter Oak Ltd for a timber frame design for a new Horticultural Nursery building in Lostwithiel. They were keen to ensure that the timber frame company they worked with would utilise sustainable local materials and value traditional craftsmanship in order to stand the tests of time and to reflect the Duke of Cornwall’s own ‘vision’ of architecture and sustainability. It would also provide a landmark building to showcase the Duchy of Cornwall, both as a retail Nursery and to represent the wider principles of the Estate.
They opted for a handcrafted Douglas fir frame with external colonnades in oak and curved cob walls to complete the structure. The Douglas fir and oak were sourced and cut at the local Duchy estate and sawmills whilst the six metre ties (too large to be cut at Duchy) were cut across the border in Devon at South Brent. The roof is shingled with Weston Red Cedar and the gutters and downpipes are copper. Building the frame took a team of five carpenters six weeks to build and on site it took five carpenters eight days to erect.
Are you considering a commercial timber frame building project? You can contact us at any stage of your plans, in fact the earlier the better! We’re happy to go through design and structural details at any stage, by involving our frame designers early on we can ensure your design is coherent with timber framing principles.
"This project was a joy to work on with the interesting roof structure and the fact that it isn't broken up by internal walls. It is gratifying to know that so many people will get to enjoy our work and yes, during the opening ceremony Prince Charles did call me a genius"
“This job is one of my favourites and one of the frames I am most proud of. I was very much involved with pre-site visits with the builder and the architects, this gave me a very broad understanding of what we were trying to achieve. The roof on this building is massive – it has three half-hips and a very long valley – it was a challenge to build, but once finished and up, it was a very satisfying job. Three years on and the building still looks amazing. The shingles have weathered and the copper has dulled, so now it sits in its surroundings, flanked by beautiful stone walls and twisted wooden fences, overlooking a deep valley with castle ruins on the other side. Most of our other frames get cleaned or sand blasted but this frame has been left with a natural rustic look. I love sitting in the café with a scone and a cuppa tea looking at the frame, all the pencil marks and lines that we put on the timber are still there and this gives the whole building a very honest straight-forward look and feel. I am so proud of this build that I always urge people to go and have tea and a cake and have a look.”
Devon (UK) based award winning specialists in the design, construction and raising of oak timber framed buildings. We have a dedicated team of Project Managers, Frame designers and Carpenters who work closely with clients and architects to deliver a wide variety of bespoke oak frame projects across the UK, Europe and beyond.
We celebrate the beauty and joy of timber frames in many different styles and raise over 60 frames a year for inclusion within schemes ranging from oak sunroom extensions to extensive high-end architectural oak houses.
We love wood, we love design and we love a challenge.
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.
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.
Just to clear it up from the start Green refers to the amount of moisture in the timber rather than the colour!
Large section ('heavy') timber framing has a style and rawness of its very own which is everything to do with the material. Its style, rhythm and methods have developed hand in hand with the use of timber in its unseasoned state. Any potential problems that the shrinkage and movement of the timber could create are designed out at the detailing stage, creating modern buildings which retain all of the beauty and stature of their historic predecessors whilst meeting and exceeding our stringent modern standards of weathertightness, airtightness and insulation.
Oak has always been used by timber framers in its 'green' state for a variety of very good reasons:
Worried about movement, cracking, treatment? See our oak page to find out more.
Usually this kind of work requires a site visit, advice and a report before the work is agreed in discussion with the engineer, architect and conservation officer. We regularly work on a consultancy basis during that phase and if there is a frame to build at the end then we can take that on too.
Adam Milton (Managing Director) was one of the carpenters involved in the roof repair after the Great Fire at Windsor Castle.
Contact us to discuss your project.
We regularly build oak frames for inclusion in renovations and barn conversions. A timber oak frame structure is ideal if the existing building is in structurally poor condition. The oak frame can slot into the fabric of the building to then carry the new roof etc.
You will need to find a builder to undertake the project as a whole but we are happy to design and build a frame for you or to give your builder dimensions. We can deliver this to site either as a kit or with the carpenters who made the frame, dependent on the size.
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.