Quirky and unusual bespoke oak building by Prime Oak, featuring appealing oval, semi-circle and French-style windows, and horizontal boarding; prices are on application
Make valuable use of your outdoor space with a garden building. With a mixture of cabins, huts, summer houses and sheds on offer this stylish selection of oak-framed designs are available to bring additional space to your home, with options in different sizes and to suit all budgets.
Generally built as permanent structures to create extra living space, or a functional room, such as a home office or garage, oak frame buildings are hugely desirable and valuable. Their appeal lies in the rustic, natural charm of the materials used, especially where they are placed in a rural setting. Oak frame buildings can be expensive, but many would argue that their handmade appearance and the knowledge that they are constructed using traditional methods (even though there may be many sophisticated systems and tools involved), make them a worthwhile investment.
Left: Bespoke building by The Oak Glasshouse Company, about £1,000 per sq m (07522 544158; theoakglasshouse.co.uk. Right: Summer house by Cheshire Oak, from about £25,000 01829 250919; cheshireoakstructures.co.uk
Building the structure
Homeowners often use a ‘design to completion’ company, which can involve the architect of the whole build working in partnership with the oak frame manufacturer or company, or they may commission specialist oak frame constructors for individual parts of the project.
Whatever the size and concept, traditional oak frame buildings have changed very little in style over the centuries; it is the scale and erection methods that have changed, with the basic structural frame built in four sections comprising wall, floor, roof and cross.
Left: Oak summer house with plenty of glazing to create a light and airy room, alongside planked walls for a cosy feel, from about £40,000, The Oak Design Company 01273 400411; oakdesigns.org Right: Oak garden room in superior quality QPA grade oak, with bespoke design and specification; from about £30,000, by Arboreta 0800 288 8333; arboreta-oak.com
Many of the oak frame buildings seen today are built with a particular eye on their ecological credentials, with many homeowners interested not just in the appeal of natural materials and user-friendly construction methods, but also in the environmental impact of oak construction timbers as carbon neutral building materials.
The environmental advantage of wood is its natural absorption of CO2. When wood is burned, it releases the amount of CO2 that it absorbed during its lifetime. However, if timber is used for long-term structural purposes, such as house building, the carbon is removed from the atmosphere, and the wood can be of use for hundreds of years, with the result that timber can be considered carbon neutral.
Left: Four Seasons pavilion from Oakwrights Country Buildings, prices are from £6,099 01432 353353; countrybuildings.co.uk Right: Cedar Ambleside log cabin with a shingle roof and 3.8 sq m floor space, from about £11,000, from Tunstall Garden Buildings 01782 832166;tgbuildings.co.uk
Green oak needs no chemical treatments or preservatives and using local suppliers can lessen the environmental impact of transportation. Most suppliers of oak framed buildings are keen to promote the idea of individually designed, bespoke buildings. There are few cost advantages in buying an off-the-shelf oak framed building, as homeowners are keen to have individually designed, unique buildings that are designed, built and adjusted to fit their own particular needs and plans. Meet with at least a couple of suppliers to compare the services which are offered. All reputable companies will offer facilities that can encompass preparation of plans, submission of planning applications, and liaison with the local authority planning departments.
Remember to consider groundworks, landscaping and other associated upheavals; designing and installing or building an oak framed building is a rather larger project than adding a summer house or gazebo to your back garden.
Left: Bespoke gazebo by English Heritage, from £11,160 01424 838643; ehbp.com Middle: Shed and logstore for practical outdoor space and storage; £4,200 for a self-assembly model, by Border Oak 01568 708752; borderoak.com Right: Open-sided summer house with raised surrounds by Julius Bahn; prices are on application 08444 171400; juliusbahn.co.uk