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

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Welcome to our new Self Build Diary – following the construction of a three bedroom cottage, in Herefordshire

We thought it might be interesting to share in detail how a Border Oak house is built  – following the entire process, from the finding the plot, securing planning approval, the design and construction stages through to the final interior finishes.

And this project seemed the ideal candidate to document ‘step by step’ as the plot is just a mile from Border Oak HQ.  We have taken the unusual decision to build this house for ourselves – enabling us to continue our research and development investment on an actual ‘test’ building and creating a home we can eventually share with potential clients.

We will bring you regular updates of progress; with behind the scenes commentary and detailed photography to help illustrate the self build process and explain how we tackle the issues and hurdles that arise.

Project History

We bought the initial plot almost 10 years ago.  It’s tucked away in a fabulous position in a wonderful village, just a few minutes from the Border Oak offices and workshop. A client had asked us to secure approval for a contemporary barn on land behind their home, which would replace a disused steel barn on a small brownfield site.

A modern timber boarding and glass design was approved, (drawings) but the clients eventually decided that they wanted to stay in their existing home and offered the plot to Border Oak. We were delighted as, although it was small, awkward and had some parking restrictions, it was also a rare opportunity and definitely had potential.

We knew the site was physically restricted, so asked the planning officer if we could reduce the approved house size, whilst maintaining the sharp, contemporary feel.  We also wanted the house to be super sustainable and a positive contribution to the village architecture, using local vernacular features and natural materials in a 21st Century manner.

However, the planning officer, whilst keen to see the house size and height reduced, was no longer supportive of the modern style and asked for a more traditional design; in keeping with the style of houses nearby. 

We felt strongly that the contemporary approach could work well so we resubmitted for a smaller house; retaining the modern ambience - with a simple, streamlined internal oak frame with lots of glass, vertical timber boarding and steel detailing externally. (drawing)

Sadly, the contemporary design was quickly refused.

Although we had spent a lot of time and money producing the contemporary style concept, we knew the planning officer wouldn’t change his mind. Border Oak usually prefer to avoid an appeal, opting to work with the planning officer collaboratively where possible; especially as taking Herefordshire Council to appeal is ultimately a ‘lose lose’ proposition for a Herefordshire business and Herefordshire Taxpayers.

We genuinely appreciate our close working relationship with Herefordshire Planning Dept, which spans more than 30 years, and we always hope compromises can always be found along the way. If we had been working for a client we probably would have endeavored to persuade the officer that a contemporary design would work in a traditional setting, but we were desperate to move forward after such a protracted and costly pre app and planning stage. We agreed to redraw the scheme to include the planning officers recommendations, and finally submitted a third application; including the new bespoke design based upon our highly popular Pearmain Cottage.

view the drawings here..
Follow our Border Oak build diary twitter account @selfbuilddiary_ for further updates on the build.

Next time….. the design explained and planning is approved.