Oak framed structures have been traditionally built all around Europe but, especially here in England, as far back as the 13th century, and they are as popular now as ever. The trick is to use green oak which is a very fresh timber which has high water content. The frame dries and seasons as the years pass and as it shrinks it pulls the joints together ever-tighter, giving the building its unique character.
The joints are fixed with pre-seasoned oak pegs, which are drilled and hammered in tightly, and are held secure by at least two curved braces per post. These braces are one of the most readily identifiable features of oak-framed buildings. Roof rafters are usually made from locally-sourced soft wood but oak rafters are also commonly used.
With the frame complete, feather-edged boarding is used to clad the frame. Matching bricks and windows can be incorporated as an additional feature to help adapt your structure to fit in with its surroundings. This method of construction is no different from the buildings carpenters built 700 years ago, albeit with different tools!
Oak is an exceptional material, naturally durable, tough, strong and beautiful. Used for hundreds of years as a principal construction material, it can be seen in the many remaining beautiful tithe barns and outbuildings dotted around the countryside, as well as churches, cathedrals, castles, schools, royal and parliamentary buildings. The pioneers of oak building clearly had a very good understanding of how oak behaves, both in terms of how the timber reacts once it is converted from a log, how it is best orientated in terms of durability, spring and bow, and how it is best joined together using the tools and techniques of the day. It is from this wealth of surviving evidence that this craft has been revived and lives on today as strong as ever.
So, having fallen in love with the idea of an oak structure, the question is: what to build?
The ideas are endless. Cart Lodges are an old favourite of mine, providing not only vehicle storage, but studio space above which has no end of uses from living to working and beyond.
A typical 2 bay cart lodge can cost between £6.5K for a kit and £16.5K, built, including foundations, architects fees, frame, cladding and a beautiful clay tile roof, leaving you a free space and a blank canvas upstairs for whatever you might desire.
In recent years, oak garden rooms have become more and more popular. They can be built off the main dwelling, or stand alone at the end of the garden, and don’t always need planning permission due to the roof pitch being below 4 metres. With double glazing all round, oak plank flooring, a log burner and a reclaimed tile roof to match the existing dwelling, you really can add that wow factor and create a space in which you will spend more time than any other in the house.
So if you are looking for a sustainably built structure to compliment your home, on a budget, that will be standing for centuries to come, I think it’s fair to say that you need look no further than oak.
To arrange a free survey and design consultation in Norfolk, Suffolk or East Anglia, you can call Darren on
01508 470 490