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Border Oak - oak framed houses, oak framed garages and structures.

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So, the scaffold has come down, the internal fit out is chugging away, and we are now at the stage where all the details come together.

With any self build the amount of preparation and research you undertake before you build is crucial - I've probably said this before, sorry. Although it seems like an eternity since we sat down at Border Oak HQ and had a 'specification' meeting* with the Border Oak Project Manager and Head of Procurement (the man who is in charge of buying and finding the very best stuff), it is very exciting to see those paper decisions come to life on site. 

*This is the meeting where all the finer detail is chosen - it's fundamental to the smooth running of the project and also the final finish.

At the spec meeting we selected (amongst a million other things):

Roof tiles


Mortar colours

Render colour

Skirting boards, architraves, beading and linings

Door types and the way they open

Floor Coverings

Door and window fixtures

Wall finishes

Kitchen layouts

Bathroom layouts

Lighting layouts

Underfloor heating systems

Rainwater goods

Location of sockets

Etc., etc., etc.

Some of these decisions have to be made at a very early stage because of the long lead in times (i.e. you need to order early to get the product made on time - very important when you are ordering bespoke items or those that are specialist and therefore more difficult to source). Other choices have to be made because they have an impact upon the construction detail and the drawings need to be amended (bear in mind that some of these design changes may well attract additional costs as design labour will be required). Meanwhile, some selections are useful in order to arrange third party quotes (electrics and plumbing for example). Basically, the more notice you can give the better.

In an ideal world it really is best if the decisions can be made before work starts on site; the drawings can be altered to include all the specifications and then…….NO FURTHER CHANGES PLEASE! However, we all know life isn't always perfect and so it is inevitable that some changes will occur during the process. Although I really did try to avoid making any alterations I thought I would give you a few examples of changes that were made and the implications of each one.

Change No. 1 - Omitting a door between the kitchen and utility.

Once I could see the space built I decided that I didn't need a door between the two rooms and that it would actually be a obstacle to the function of the space and would stop the long 'view through' (see previous post).

However, the beautiful oak door and the linings, architraves etc. had already been made and the opening had been created. The solution was relatively easy as the dry lining hadn't been completed so we could board around the opening and produce a nice finish. It would have been worse if the door had been fitted and then we asked to take it out. However, we do now have a spare door that we have to pay for but don't need.

Bothersome Factor 4/10

Change No. 2 - The feature wall in the bedroom.

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We thought it would be fun to add a bit of timber to one of the walls to provide some texture and do something a little different. Horizontal timber planks were fitted across the wall rather than plasterboard. This meant adding some extra battening and a dark membrane (so when the boards shrink you can't see the airtightness barrier). We reduced the plasterboard/dry lining work, but increased the carpentry element. It meant a last minute order to the timber merchant, but caused no major delay as it arrived the next day. If there had been a delay it would have been a big problem and costly too. 

Bothersome Factor 3/10

Change No. 3 - Repositioning of bathroom fittings and creating a dummy wall to hide the plumbing. 

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The main bathroom had always been a problem for me - I just couldn't work it out until it was built. Once I saw the space I realised I needed a major restyling, but this was after the main infrastructure had been installed. I had to work around the soil pipe and the required fall, but also needed to rejig the door way and access from the landing. I wanted to hide the pipe work in a dummy wall and we had to alter the wall beneath too; all of this had to be done without breaking the airtightness membrane. Yes, it all looks very streamlined now and I am pleased with the result, but it would be a lie to say that it was easy.

Bothersome Factor 8/10

There were a few other smaller changes (such as swapping the new flagstones in the fireplace for reclaimed flagstones) that have organically occurred, but nothing that would cause a tantrum. There have also been some tiny amendments that are more to do with refinement, problem solving and my own personal vision (such as the extra bit of beading on the staircase string which I think just elevates the profile - and which no one else has even noticed or commented on!) Overall I have really tried to stick to the original drawings and only change things that were absolutely fundamental. Although sometimes the sheer number of decisions and sense of responsibility have weighed heavy on my shoulders, especially the choice of fittings and visual elements, I can honestly say that the finished house is pretty much as we envisaged all those months ago.

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Next time

We can share the complete house and all the interior furnishings.