Oak framed houses are fast becoming the preferred choice for budding self builders looking for that traditional or modern “exposed beam” look for their homes, yet at an achievable price. Self builders choosing the more traditional style design often find them favoured by the planners as being “within keeping” in rural areas, as well as being a sustainable timber resource from those companies who use timber supplied from FSC registered sources.
Established companies who specialize in oak framing will be geared to provide the full service from design through to erection on site and will often advise the client with many variations for their design and layout. These structures are often crafted in a timber framing factory then constructed on site within days, resulting in a natural high quality finish which stands the test of time.
Oak framed houses
When it comes to self-building your dream house, there are two main options for the construction of the shell - brick and block or timber frame. In the case of timber, Douglas-fir and sitka spruce are the most commonly used woods, but if you want a top-of-the-range house that will last and last, oak frame houses are the way to go.
Oak, though more expensive than other woods, is a fantastic building material that has been used in the construction industry for well over 1000 years. That so many wooden medieval buildings remain intact is testament to oak`s longevity.
In oak houses built around a timber frame, the frame itself supports the weight of the entire structure. Unlike a brick and block house in which some of the internal walls are also load bearing, a oak frame house allows for far larger interior spaces and a lighter, more airy feel.
Once you have chosen your design - which can either be off the peg or bespoke - the oak timbers are cut to size in a factory, often along with other components like wall and floor panels. Relatively quick to assemble, an oak frame house can be delivered to your plot, roofed and completely weatherproof in the space of just a few days. By contrast, a brick and block house can take many months to reach that stage and requires longer periods of good weather before it can be completed.
A timber frame also allows you to make a feature of the natural beauty of the wood, both inside and out. Freshly cut oak is golden yellow in colour and slowly becomes paler over time. If exposed to the outside elements, oak turns a silver-grey colour which many owners find particularly appealing.
Oak frames are not nailed or glued together, instead they use a series of mortise and tenon joints which are held in place by oak pegs to stop them coming apart when the frame is raised. Depending on where you get your oak frame from, these joints may be cut in an automated factory or cut by hand using saws, chisels and drills.
As it ages and dries out, oak shrinks a little. This has the overall effect of making the joints tighter but some allowance for shrinkage has to be made in advance. Joints should also be checked periodically to ensure they remain air and watertight.
Because an oak frame has to be cut to size before it is erected, there is little scope for making modifications to the design once building is underway. This can also lead to difficulties if defects or obstructions are encountered on the plot during building. In such situations, brick and block houses are far more adaptable.
Ensuring that you do the right amount of pre-planning before assembling oak-framed houses usually allows for smooth sailing later on, but build can encounter unforeseen difficulties. Whether it`s a sudden requirement for Black & Decker spare parts
or the discovery of an unwelcome tree root when excavating the foundations it is best to make sure you allow for the unexpected when planning your schedule to give you and your team a little wiggle room.