Wednesday, 28 October 2009

you can't beat a bit of old oak

Border Oak used to do lots of barn conversions - in fact the very first Border Oak house, 30 years ago, was part conversion, part extension, part relocation ( and my mum and dad still live there) - but nowadays we tend to steer clear of these gorgeous old barns. Not because we don't love them, we really do, but because they were becoming fraught with issues. Bats, Voles, Newts all needed rehousing at the right time of year, the planning powers wanted 'live work units' and multiple occupancy, and the costs are notoriously unpredictable (and who can afford the proverbial bottomless pit?)

But every now and then a barn has stumbled into our path that has either been too beautiful, or dare I say it, too easy to pass by. And because we used to do lots of conversions we have all the necessary skills to renovate and restore even the mankyiest (is that a word? oh dear!) chicken shed, as long as we can go at our own pace and with our own solutions (i.e. we can't do conversions for clients only 'in house').

This barn wasn't really that manky, but it wasn't that beautiful either. What it did have was a huge plot, great views, no onerous planning issues and a straight forward conversion (there wasn't much old oak remaining so we could rebuild from the bottom up). One of the Border Oak  senior designers bought it after the conversion work was completed - and I think it turned out to be quite lovely.
the outside is a mix of oak weatherboard, glass and stone, with old Welsh Slates on the roof and copper guttering - in other words top end specification  - aka expensive. Internally we saved all teh old oak, even retaining the angled walls and dubious slopes. New oak framing was added in an obvious fashion as were new contemporary  fittings such as lights and free standing kitchen units which leave the old fabric of the structure to be seen.

Luckily we had no neighbours to consider so there are lots of floor to ceiling windows - and lots more new windows than you would normally be allowed under planning legislation.

The floor plan is very well suited to modern living - big rooms, high ceilings, no wasted space There is a smaller connected barn sitting at an angle which created the perfect snug/office/ playroom/studio or annex - with more floor to ceiling glass.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

a bit on the side

It's not uncommon for Border Oak to go back to past clients homes to add extensions. The owners may want to create more space as a family have grown but often it is to build a sunroom or simply because the money tree has been generous. Luckily oak frames are pretty easy to extend both in a practical sense and also aesthetically. Here are some recent extensions Border Oak have added. 

 I will try to be back to my blogging best (as bad as that!) next week as the one brochure goes to print on Monday and the other is coming together. Stress free times ahead.......... (touch wood, oak of course)!

The left hand of this building is the original bungalow - transformed with a new roof, windows, porch and rendered facade - and the two storey green oak extension sits quite happily against it.
The original brick house was already pretty, but quite narrow and tall for the beautiful site and so the extension needed to match the height (so the internal spaces would work) but also provide a great width and balance. The weathered boarded barn was added to the other side to give a graduated roof line and soften the profile of the greatly enlarged property.

Border Oak added this sunroom to a cottage we had built a few years ago  - we have also built some further outbuildings and oak garden structures at the same property - and, according to Ed the project manager, it is all immaculate and very impressive indeed.

You can see that we have added both an oak framed garden room and two storey extension (including double jetty and attic rooms) here - we built the original farmhouse as phase one, the sunroom with interesting roof configuration as phase two and the large extension to the left as phase three. I think it is a hugely successful overall project - see below for a before shot. 
It really looks as if the three parts are a unified whole and I hear from Mark, another of the Border Oak project managers, that the completed house is really wonderful (do you sense an element of competition from the PM's?)

p.s Thankyou to mark, the aforementioned PM, for the fabulous photo I have used in my blog banner - a lovely scene over the River Wye.

Friday, 16 October 2009

the first border oak seminar - and some photos.......

Last Friday we held the very first Border Oak seminar where all of the office staff - including the elusive Project Managers, met up to discuss how we see Border Oak growing over the next 5 years or so. It was really interesting and energising and thankfully we managed to avoid too many seminar cliches such as 'thinking out of the box' and 'failing to plan is planning to fail' (although the last one was mentioned............) When we spotted the bouncy castles being inflated we all worried that some 'team building' activities were afoot but luckily they were for the under 8's rugby training . Bacon sandwiches started the day with a buffet lunch to conclude - what's not to love about seminars eh?!

Anyway back to some eye candy (not the project mangers I promise)...........This is the beautiful oak framed house house that will feature in the next issue of Homebuilding & Renovation - out in about 10 days I think - I'm  really looking forward to seeing it in print!

The internal chimney becomes a feature in the maser bedroom with a vaulted ceiling to show off the oak frame

A beautiful and informal kitchen is open to the fabulous garden room with a wall of glazing and a woodburner to capture the best of all seasons

The external elevations are faced in brick rather than lime render but in essence this house is based on the infamous 'Pearmain Cottage' as seen on Grand Designs.