Home-making made simple with an oak frame

Oakwrights’ Charlie Mills and his wife Helen are starting married life in the dream oak-frame home they created in Herefordshire.

What attracted you to the idea of creating your own family home?

Building a home felt like something you do much later in life, but when we realised it was perfectly achievable, we knew we had to do it. The opportunity to create a home unique to us and our lifestyle was very exciting. When we look at other ‘off-the-peg’ properties, we know they would not fit our lifestyle as much as a house we have designed and built ourselves.

What do you see as the attractions of building in green oak?

When you build in oak, you are embracing a traditional building method that adds significant character to a home. The ‘wow’ factor the oak frame brings, both inside and out, has meant that our décor can be simple and understated, as the oak does all the work for us. The frame adds a dimension you can never achieve with any other form of building material. I don’t think its unique and distinctive character ever loses its appeal.

Helen and Charlie Mills find that nothing compares to their oak-frame home.

Did you consider sustainability during your house design and build?

Yes, our ambition was to make it as energy-efficient and low-cost as possible to run. The house is made up of highly insulated panels that encapsulate the oak frame and are fitted to make the house air-tight, a requirement of building regulations. We installed an MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery) system which brings freshly filtered air into the house, extracting the stale air from inside, yet retaining its warmth.

How closely involved were you in designing the house?

When we purchased our plot, it came with a house design that we really liked, which was inspired by the Cottage range at Oakwrights and which already had planning permission. This is called a custom-build plot and only required a tweak to the internal layout to make sure it suited our needs and how we wanted to use the space. We also worked with the Oakwrights design team to change some subtle aspects of the external appearance.

The oak frame gives the house a distinctive character that has timeless appeal.

What were the benefits of using the construction method you did?

We moved into our home within eight months of starting the groundworks. The biggest benefit of choosing an oak frame and pre-fabricated encapsulation system was that the dry shell process was completed within 11 days, from laying the base to fitting internal studwork and roof covering. The joinery and external cladding were already pre-installed to the insulated panels in the Oakwrights workshops, reducing building time significantly. In addition, because there was only one contractor looking after the oak frame and encapsulation system, all the teams, from architecture and frame design through to production could work together, so there was less opportunity for any confusion.

Would you do it again?

Yes! We were about to embark on another project within 12 months of moving in, but realised we hadn’t had time to enjoy the home we had only moved into. We do keep an eye on the property market, but once you have designed and built your own home, nothing comes close.

For 25 years, Oakwrights has been designing and building beautifully bespoke oak-frame homes, extensions and outbuildings. To discover more, telephone 01432 353353 or visit www.oakwrights.co.uk.