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Finding the perfect wedding venue is hard enough for any bride and groom, but creating the perfect wedding venue for others to use is even more challenging.
For Steve Chamberlain, owner of Nancarrow Farm near Truro in Cornwall, the brief was based on his experience of his own wedding and the aim was to create a space that would easily accommodate about 130 people to provide the perfect backdrop to a country wedding.
He hadn’t originally planned for an oak framed building but designer Matt Robinson had worked with Carpenter Oak before, and knew they could meet the stringent requirements for European funding while coming up with a style that would work for weddings and enhance the older buildings already on site at this family farm.
“Building in oak was for us a shot in the dark – it was a huge leap of faith. I’d never had any experience of timber buildings before. We leant heavily on Matt Robinson and worked with him to ensure the space would work,” said Steve.
“We were inspired by our own wedding – we took the best points from the marquee experience and overlaid the massive upgrade that a wooden structure can provide over the canvas of a marquee.”
We were inspired by our own wedding – we took the best points from the marquee experience and overlaid the massive upgrade that a wooden structure can provide over the canvas of a marquee.
The resulting building is a large half-hipped aisled barn based on a medieval tithe barn – a design that works particularly well for weddings as it lends itself to a central aisle. The roof mimics that of the old barns which this building replaced, and an open bay at one end provides a covered porch area.
At 10 metres wide and 20 metres long, the frame took three carpenters five weeks and was raised on site in less than a week. Designer Matt Robinson added some quirky details such as concave braces and made a feature of the post feet in their large steel buckets.
As in most great buildings it is the attention to detail that gives this building such a ‘wow’ factor.The glazed front at the West end of the barn means the setting sun can be seen through it in the afternoon.
The barn overlooks a lovely mill pond on one side. Care has been taken so that wherever people are in the space the backdrop is beautiful: “We wanted it to work so that if people are having a conversation and someone else takes a photo of them, the backdrop of that captured moment is always going to look good,” said Steve.
The lighting is another master stroke. Rebated purlins were hollowed out to conceal the up-lighting, keeping the wiring hidden and tidy, while suspended glass demijon lights soften the look and add a soft glow.
As well as concentrating on the atmosphere and look of the interior of the building, Steve was very keen to ensure that a big new barn wouldn’t dominate the farm and that there should be a cohesive feel to all the buildings. He says this has been successfully achieved and the new barn already looks like it’s been there for years.
“It has slotted in among the old buildings and already looks very much at home, everyone thinks it’s been there for donkey’s years.
“When we took down the old breeze block building that was on that site before, it opened up the lovely old stone barn that was behind it. The new barn really doesn’t dominate, if anything it has transformed the site. And despite the size of it, people feel comfortable in the space, it’s unpretentious, which allows people to let their hair down and enjoy themselves.
“We are absolutely delighted. We have already got plans to build with oak again, as we’re planning to build a bridal suite later this year. I have always warmed towards old buildings and our challenge was to create something that had enough style to measure up against places that have 500 year old timber frames.”
They key, he says, to a successful build is on surrounding yourself with people who excel in their specialities, from the architect to the frame design to the builders.
The result of that teamwork is a breathtaking building that will not provide lifelong memories for the people who hire, but also a building that for Steve and his family had the right balance of beautiful aesthetics, affordable cost and the ability to meet all the necessary building regulations.
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.