How, Who and Why!
I had known for some time before I started to search for a plot I wanted to construct an oak framed house. This was yet another factor to consider in the search for a plot. There are so many options when it comes to house building and I spent a lot of time looking at a variety of different systems but my personal taste kept bringing me back to an oak framed property.
It was always pictures of an oak framed building old or new that drew my attention. I would always gravitate towards their displays at the home building and renovating shows and I’d never miss a television programme that included an oak frame project.
Before I started my search for a plot I spent a lot of time looking in detail at what the different oak frame companies offered. Interestingly they all offer something very different and like everything else with self-build it can take a lot of research and thought to be able to decide the best path for your project. Some of the differences I discovered were:
1) Turnkey versus a smaller package (ie oak frame alone or oak frame +walls and roof etc)
2) Hand made versus automated machine cut frame
3) Bespoke design versus adaptations of a from plans design portfolio
4) Different styles of oak frame
5) Traditional, modern or fusion frame designs
6) In house architects versus associated or independent architects
7) Different business or customer approach styles (none bad just different)
8) Different geographical locations
Carpenter Oak was my final choice for a number of reasons. There was no one house the same in their portfolio they were all very different. I liked the fact there was no brochure to pick a style from and that the frames were all hand made in Devon. Most of all their frame designs were fantastic they were exactly what I was looking for. I would later confirm on a visit to their yard and one of their recent builds that the frames were beautifully engineered. (see above photo of the framing yard courtesy of carpenter oak) Their oak frames were crafted and erected to the highest standards. Also they have been extremely supportive and helpful for my project to date despite not yet being formally commissioned to design and manufacture the frame. This has not stopped them from guiding me in the right direction and supplying information and help whenever it was needed.
Roderick James Architects LLP is closely associated with Carpenter Oak. Many of the house designs I liked were by this architectural firm. I particularly liked the way their buildings seemed to combine traditional styles with modern light filled spaces. Their portfolio was very broad covering modest to very large designs and everything inbetween. The range of different materials and finishes impressed also.
I had made a decision early on that I wanted to invest in an architects designed house I felt the design was the most important aspect of the build and if this was right everything else would follow.
After finding the first plot in 2012 the purchase of which eventually fell though I arranged to travel to Devon to meet Carpenter Oak and to visit the framing yard. I was also able to meet with an architect from Roderick James Architects LLP at the same time. It was a very good day indeed and as well as giving me the foundations to guide my future self-build quest it was a real pleasure to tour the framing yard and learn more about green oak construction. The architect was very good at understanding my goals and design ideas. Indeed in time he became the lead project architect along with his design team.
There are a lot of great ways to build a house no one way is the best it all depends on what you want to achieve and your personal preferences. Whatever you decide do take time and care to choose carefully and plan your build route and those who will help you on your journey.