11 Jun 2019

Traditional craftsmanship, engineered with precision


For one family, a bespoke-designed oak frame from The Oak Designs Company ticked all the boxes in their quest to find a robust, elegant and spacious outhouse for an elderly family member.


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The brief was to design and build a spacious one-bedroom ground level property on the site where there was an old dilapidated garage within the gardens of the existing house. Within the design, it needed to incorporate front and rear gardens with separate areas that would allow the building’s occupants to sit outside or entertain with an undercover area to provide shade in the summer.

Utilising available space

To do this on a very small plot size an L-shaped design approach was used to maximise the available space. This allowed the design team to create a well-proportioned living space internally that had a great flow through the house and an open living kitchen diner and living room.

The first step involved the demolition of the pre-existing garage and slab. From there, new foundations where put in with brick courses above and below slab level.

The second step involved getting the oak frame on site and erected. A Hiab lorry was used by the expert assembly team from The Oak Designs Company who also ended up doing the groundworks, roofing, design work and erection of the building. The site was set out and measured again prior to getting the posts put into position.

Slotting into place

The manually-controlled crane on the lorry really helped with the assembly time as massive lengths of oak beams were hoisted into position whereby, with almost German like precision, the assembly team put to work getting the structure secure.

The third step was to get the other aspects of the frame together, so all the handmade oak trusses and softwood rafters were fixed into place. From here the aim was to get the building watertight.In order to get the building watertight, firstly the assembly team had to get all the glazing and joinery as well as the studwork and weatherboard all fitted. From this point on, the building was ready for the felt, battening and roofing.

Finishing touches

After the assembly, it came to fitting out the shell of the building so all the electrics, plumbing, insulation and decorating, including a new kitchen, bathroom and gas fire could be put in. After all of this the final step was applying the finishing touches to the outside such as painting all the weatherboard, putting paving slabs around the property, fixing all the external lights and landscaping the front and rear garden.

This build wasn’t just an ordinary outhouse or guest house project. It was undertaken to provide a home for an elderly family member so they could have a lovely quality of life and maintain their own independence yet also be on the same plot of land as the wider family and be cared for instead of having to be put into a nursing home.

According to a report by healthcare specialist Laing & Buisson, care homes can cost up to £55,000 per year. From a financial point of view, this project made perfect sense. It would pay for itself in a matter of years and would also add value onto the existing property. It may have been a slightly larger cost short term but long term it was a no brainer.

Increased sense of space

The plot size was quite small and tight for a one-bed detached property however the construction and beauty of the oak framed building allowed lofted ceilings to make the space feel a lot bigger than it actually was.

The beautiful locally-handmade joinery with all its full height French doors and cottage-style windows were supplied by The Oak Designs Company which helped to open up the space and allow lots of light into the building. This was extenuated by the use of large Velux window roof lights in the ceilings of the barn hip roof.

Planning wise, the issues encountered were that it was very close to the boundary and also next to a main road. What’s more, obtaining planning permission for a habitable dwelling when there is already a main house on the plot already is not always easy.

However, the planning process ended up being quite straightforward due to the use of eco-friendly materials with the oak frame and cladding. The style of the building also helped to bring the ridge height down whilst still having an open vaulted roof and an internal spacious layout helped vastly to attain planning permission.

Other factors such as the fact it was a low impact building and the use it was intended for again really helped in planning permission for this beautiful building being granted.

Speaking of their experience and the end result, the family comments: “It was a wonderful experience doing this project and a pleasure to work with The Oak Designs Company who were key throughout all the major stages of the build including design, planning groundworks, roofing and assembly. We would certainly do it again and are now looking at doing an oak framed outdoor entertainment area.”

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