Posted on: 26th February 2019

If you are looking to self build with an oak frame, there are various steps that you will encounter in the process.  Take a look at our 8 steps to get you started.

1. Finance

A self build home is built and paid for in stages.  A self build mortgage reflects this process, releasing funds at various stages of the project.  The chart below (taken from Buildstore Mortgage Services) demonstrates the typical stages in a traditional brick and block construction and a timber frame construction.  Your project could be a combination of these methods.

For expert advice on how to fund your self build, click here to enquire or call BuildStore on 0345 223 4888.

Carpenter Oak can work with you to achieve stages 3 through to 6.  We offer structural framing (stage 3), frame and wrap stage (4) or complete build (stage 6) services.  To discuss your project and request an estimate, contact us.


2. Finding a plot

Purchasing a plot can often be a frustrating sticking point but persevere, and you will succeed.  Choose your preferred area, have an explore, chat with the locals and approach the council.

Register with Plotsearch and Rightmove, local estate and land agents and property auctions such as Allsop and Savills.  

Register with the Right to Build Scheme.  Since October 2016, councils must grant planning permission for sufficient serviced plots to meet demands.  Contact your Local Authority to register.

Consider a custom build plot.  Carpenter Oak currently have five prime plots, with outline planning permission for sale in the Teign Estuary. With planning permission already in place you can work with us to build your bespoke oak framed house.

3. Selecting your design team

A design team usually consists of you, an architect, frame designer and a structural engineer.  The building’s overall design will be dependent on the structural timber frame. Both the building and the frame need to be designed together as their design is a tightly connected process.

A skilled and experienced architect, with an understanding of oak framing, is essential to your project.  We can work with your chosen architect or collaborate with a recommended associate architect.

Structural timber frame design is a specialist area carried out by our frame designers. Our 30 years of experience informs our frame design. Every single frame and building evolves differently, and we ensure that each Carpenter Oak frame design adds exactly the required style and structure.  We can input our frame design service at various stages of your project, but to make the most of your design, contact us early on in your process.

Read more about our architectural design service

Read more about our structural timber frame design service


4. Concept Design

A strong and clear brief can determine the success of your project.  Concept design starts with you. The brief describes your expectations around budget, design, finish and level of service.  Engage with us early on in your project to make the most of your design requirements.

Once we have your brief we will provide you with a sketch scheme – computer generated drawings that portray the overall look and feel of your frame. It is the first step to visualising your project in greater depth. The sketch scheme also informs the estimate of your project.

Typically, the timber frame is the primary structural element of your build.  We can help design your frame, whatever your ambitions are. After 30 years of timber framing, we particularly enjoy a challenge.

It is important to remember that you and not your design team will be living in your building. Communicate your intentions clearly and stick to the ideas that are important to you.

Make an appointment to visit our show barn or show home and tour our workshops.

Follow us on Pinterest to help with ideas and inspiration.



5. Encapsulation

There are several options when it comes to encapsulating your frame.  Each comes with their own strengths. Their suitability will ultimately depend on your individual project.  The encapsulation process of your project has the potential to take you to stage 4 of your self build mortgage.

Types of encapsulation to consider include; Structural Insulated Panels (SIP’s), timber frame panel (offsite construction), timber frame panel (onsite construction), I Beam panels, Warmcell panels, Block cavity, Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) and Cross Laminated timber (CLT)

Encapsulation systems are produced in both open and closed systems.  Closed systems are built in factory conditions and arrive on site complete and ready to put in position.  Open systems arrive constructed but without the internal panel in place. Open systems allow for the fitting of plumbing and electrical services before the internal panel is fitted.

Your design team can offer advice as to which encapsulation system would be suitable for your project.

6. Frame crafting

We handcraft all of our frames in our workshops.  Our highly skilled carpenters are versatile with their craft, resulting in almost limitless design opportunities.  We work with traditional pegged mortise and tenon jointing techniques. Our specialist knowledge enables timber to be combined with steelwork and glass with exceptional results.  

Following medieval principles of framing, the carpentry team apply their experience and skill to scribe each timber, creating an accurate record throughout the building. Some clients choose to retain all of these markings which tell the story of their frame.  The Duchy of Cornwall Nursery is an excellent example of this and is open to the public.

Handcrafted frames offer a wider range of design options than machine cut frames. The added benefit is that we can to maintain a unique craft that has shaped our history.  We welcome all of our clients to view the crafting process of their frame.

We work with a variety of timbers.  Oak is our signature timber but doesn’t suit everyone’s taste or project needs.  We also work with Douglas fir, larch and glulaminated timbers.

7. Frame raising

On completion of your timber frame in our workshops, our team of carpenters who crafted your frame erect the frame on site.  Possibly the most exciting part of the process is where your project goes from slab to something that represents your house. Typically, this happens in less than a week, exceptionally large frames can take longer, small frames could be erected in a couple of days.

The structural timber frame forms the skeleton of your building. Once complete, the frame is ready for whichever form of encapsulation system and roofing method you choose.  

Depending on your project, this point of the process could take you to stage 3 of your self build mortgage. With the frame in place, it has the potential to be watertight within days.  Studwork and first fix can be carried out inside whilst protected from the elements. Once your timber frame is wind and watertight you will have reached stage 4 of your self build mortgage.


8. Frame finishes

Once your frame is raised and your project is nearing completion it is likely that the frame will need cleaning or finishing to your requirements.  The timber will pick up marks along the journey from sawmill to your site. These can be blue stains from the sawmill process, markings from our carpenters and dirt picked up on site.   Much of these marks are removable with oxalic acid. Localised water staining can be steam cleaned.

Most of our clients choose to have their oak frame sandblasted.  

Douglas fir can also be cleaned using oxalic acid but sandblasting is not recommended on Douglas fir.  A lime wash or oil wax can be applied to reduce the visibility of moulds which may occur on the sappier margins.

Particular care needs to be taken with glulam frames.  Special care is required to avoid marking the timber. It arrives on site wrapped in plastic film for protection.  Protection must remain in place for the rest of the build process.

Whatever timber you choose, your design team will advise you on suitable finishes in more detail.

Contact us to discuss your project ideas and requirements.

Carpenter oak offer a Complete Build Service which takes your project from the initial brief to moving in.