Carpenter Oak - The Professional Timber Framing Company
call for a chat
+44 (0)1803 732900
Images Only
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background

Nancarrow Wedding Barn

Steve Chamberlain on his new oak framed wedding venue in the UK.

Lead Carpenter:
Frame Design:

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.”

Read more about the creation of this wedding barn in Cornwall Today‘s March 2015 issue…

Featured in Cornwall Today
Read more about the creation of this wedding barn in Cornwall Today's March 2015 issue...

“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.”

Steve Chamberlain

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.

680 Oak Saplings

Planted For This Project

Oak Saplings planted - Carpenter Oak We arrange for 10 oak saplings to be planted for every tree used to build your frame. Read More

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.

Project Details
Frame Drawing
Click to see enlarged image...
Floor Plan
Click to see enlarged image...
Cross Section
Click to see enlarged image...
Do you need an architect?
We enjoy working with any architect of your choice, we can also recommend a range of trusted award-winning practices to suit you. Find out more
Map - where we have worked
See where we've worked near you
View our fantastic new interactive map that showcases our work around the country. Check out our new interactive map
Back to top

Your questions answered...

  • What is Carpenter Oak Ltd?


    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.

  • How much does a Carpenter Oak frame cost?

    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.

    The cost of building a New Build Oak Frame House or Timber Framed Extension

    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:-

    • Oak Framed Boathouse, Lake Windermere

      Oak Framed Boathouse

      Access:- Difficult access effects the whole build not just the timber frame aspect, but don't panic if your site is tricky as there is usually a solution for the most extreme cases. We love a challenge at Carpenter Oak Ltd.
    • Size - smaller doesn't necessarily mean cheaper!
    • Ground conditions
    • Specification ie Kitchens alone can vary from £1,000 to £100,000.
    • Design and shape. A house designed with a timber frame in mind from the outset will be more efficient to build. Consider this at the planning stage.
    • Complexity of the building and its shape. A 'H' shaped will be more expensive to build than a rectangle.
    • Good information and knowledge from the architect, builder, timber framer and the rest of the team you employ.

    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'.

    • A timber frame can be a simple primary structure or a partial one in a certain area of your house. It can incorporate fully raftered vaulted roof spaces, mezzanine floors, balconies and fully joisted areas, all of which will affect the price of the frame. Areas such as the roof structure can be done in revealed oak frame or can be entirely hidden and done by your builder in softwood. This will affect your overall cost to some extent but will vary the value of our work significantly.
    • The timber frame is just one element of your overall build cost and can typically range from 15% - 30% of the overall figure.
    • All of our frames are unique and so there are no standard price or designs. We do show a variety of designs in our pack however with corresponding frame prices and overall build prices which will help you to get a good sense of the cost. The cost of a frame often ranges from £300 - £500 per square metre.
    • As soon as you have architects drawings, we can offer you an estimate for the manufacture and raising of the frame. We generally offer clients a fixed price.
  • Why should I choose Carpenter Oak Ltd?

    Here at Carpenter Oak we live and breathe timber framed buildings, large and small, and we love a challenge. We create truly unique frames that respond to your brief giving you a bespoke 'made to measure' and personalised solution to your brief and budget. Carpenter Oak is the most established and experienced timber framer with a yard in Cornwall, Devon and Scotland - we are well placed to supply design and timber framing services across the UK and beyond.   Carpenter Oak holds dear several important factors:-  

    Our People

      • Our team of 25 long serving and highly trained timber frame carpenters who build and raise the frames are widely regarded as being the best in the business.
      • The carpenters who cut the frame will take it to site - project ownership throughout. This maintains high standards where it matters most while giving variety to the working week.
      • We have 4 full time frame designers. 3 office based, 1 Cornwall based. This gives us the time to get involved in each project and help spot and solve potential problems early on while working with your architect.

    Our Craft and Materials

    • We do not use large 'soulless' CNC machines, but favour a hand crafted approach which enables us to work in a variety of styles and with the most challenging designs – we work in Oak, Douglas Fir, Larch, Chestnut Glu-Lam, in contemporary, quirky and cutting-edge styles as well as in more established traditional designs.
    • We have spent 20+years developing a relationship with our preferred sawmill. They know our exacting standards for all our timber. Other sawmills cannot match this service.
    • We really care about where our materials come from and invest in their sustainable management through our saplings programme in the UK.
    • We do not compromise on timber quality, why should we? This can mean that we are a little more expensive than some BUT not every time!
    • Air dried brace stock. Bought in at least 12 months before we need it to minimise the shrinkage of timber on critical (aesthetic and structural) elements.

    Our service

    • We are able to make it easy for you by being approachable, knowledgeable and professional. Whether it is a oak frame and glazing service, complete build or an oak and SIPS wrap service you need we can help get you there easily.
    • We are large enough to have capacity yet small enough to be versatile and flexible which is important when your timescale is quite tight!
    • We have a experienced team of designers, carpenters and office staff. Everybody in senior roles has been a carpenter with vast experience of timber framing on the workshop floor. It would seem obvious for a carpentry firm but this is rare.
    • We thrive on the differences between each and every one of our projects, overcoming the challenges of the build (access, design and budget constraints) while developing a strong rapport with our customers.
    • We carry out approximately 60 projects a year ensuring a personal service - whatever the size of the build.
    • Most of all without exception throughout the team of people that work here, we love what we do!

    Call us to talk through your ideas or project:- 01803 732900

    What our customers say about us:-
  • Where do you work?

    We take on oak frame house or extension projects in all corners of the UK, Ireland & the Channel islands as well as Europe and beyond (in the last 5 years we have sent frames and raising teams to France, Germany, Cyprus, Holland & Russia.) See our case studies pages for examples of our work and check out the international projects page too! We would love to hear from you wherever you are. See where we have worked near you - click here
  • When should I approach you?

    The Carpenter Oak Show Barn in DevonWe 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.

  • Can you put up your frames anywhere?

    We have raised frames in Russia, Cyprus, remote Scottish islands, City Centres, flat sites, in flood plains, by rivers  and sloping sites. We have transported the timber by boat, sited cranes on river beds and carried entire house frames onto site by hand. We have lifted frames over houses, squeezed down Cornwall lanes and build frames on site rather than in the workshop. We always welcome a challenge and would be happy to hear from you whatever your brief.
  • Do Carpenter Oak Ltd supply architects or architectural services?

    Yes. We can recommend specialists timber framing architects across the UK and abroad. See which architects we've worked with in the past or contact us to find out more information.
  • Are Carpenter Oak’s frames made by hand?

    tools-and-tea2 We only use handheld tools and power tools (such as chain morticers, circular saws and drill) to cut and shape the timber. We are adaptable – we design and build bespoke frames (not repeat designs), often incorporate large beautiful curves within them and utilise a huge variety of structural framing techniques. Skilled carpenters adept in all the techniques and who can use their judgement in the selection of every timber and the cutting of every joint are therefore critical. The same carpentry team carries their understanding of the frame right through to seeing it raised on site. We do not use large automated 'Hundegger' CNC machines to cut whole frames. We don’t believe in this way of doing things for a number of reasons: Hundeggers reduce your options – they only handle planed timber and give the finished frames a homogenised look (check the curved braces), they can't cope with large curved timbers such as slings and curved ties and, since the programming of the machines is so time consuming in relation to the cutting time, they are ideally suited to repeat designs.
  • Where does your oak come from?

    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.

    Read more about our Materials

  • What is ‘green oak’?

    'Green Oak' is a term used to describe the unseasoned, freshly sawn oak which is used for timber framing. It is not a reference to the colour of the Oak, but rather to the fact that it is recently cut. It implies a moisture content of between 30%-80%
  • Why use ‘green oak’?

    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:

    • pencil-marking-on-timber-in-yardIt is far easier to cut and shape.
    • Seasoned beams deform significantly and develop splits, shakes and checks. This makes it far more difficult and time consuming to mark out and frame accurately.
    • Storing timber is very expensive and time consuming and the resultant seasoned material can be anything from 2 to 5 times the price.
    • Oak in fact takes several years to get anywhere near being dry and so after a year when it is cut, it is still wet to the touch. Even large section beams which are sold as seasoned or 'air-dry' are very far from being dry inside and will still undergo significant movement and shaking afterwards.

    Worried about movement, cracking, treatment? See our oak page to find out more.

  • Do you do oak conservation or timber frame repair work?

    The majority of our work are new builds, re-builds and extensions but our company roots lie partly in conservation & repair work and we have all the necessary knowledge and experience needed.

    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.

  • Do you do renovations or conversions?

    Oak Framed Stone Barn Conversion with River View in DevonWe 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.

  • Do you offer a ‘Turnkey’ (complete build) solution ?

    Cabin with Lake View constructed from Douglas Fir Timber with Western Red Shingles by Carpenter Oak Ltd Devon

    Image courtesy of Michael Harris

    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.

    Find out more about Carpenter Oak's Complete Build solution
    Click here to visit our 'What We Do' page.