Inspiration and advice for your building project
Jenny and Colin Creese’s beautiful new oak frame home – built with the aid of son, Peter – has become a natural addition to their orchard plot. The traditional self build in Worcestershire is inspired by Arts & Crafts architecture, with a heavy roof, complete with catslide and steep pitch, being the focus of the design.
After raising four children and managing three businesses, we were thinking of winding down,” says Jenny, who, in fact, did the very opposite — by self building an oak frame home with husband Colin in Worcestershire. The couple’s initial plans changed when an architect friend, commenting on their free land, “expressed surprise that we hadn’t pursued planning,” says Colin. “He offered to submit plans for a retirement bungalow which, to our amazement and delight, was passed within eight weeks!”
For reasons they can no longer recall, the Creeses put the plot up for sale and the buyer successfully resubmitted plans for a much larger house. The sale fell through however, and it was around this time that the couple’s youngest son, Peter, suggested a self build.
"Peter is a partner in a successful build and design company” explains Jenny, and it was under their son’s guidance that Colin and Jenny began to think of a more ambitious project. The couple were interested in the architecture of the Arts & Crafts movement, which paid close attention to vernacular detail and celebrated organic profiles and elevations - principles particularly appropriate for their site.
Peter introduced his parents to John Greene, director at Border Oak. Colin and Jenny later met Border Oak’s chief designer on site and provided him with their initial brief. The designer shortly returned with a bespoke scheme combining these needs with the virtues of the plot. “We were blown away by the design,” says Jenny.
The plans showed a front elevation defined by contrasting eaves heights, projections, catslides and gabled features. A simple oak frame system would help create the spaces internally and would be paired with a stressed-skin softwood exterior frame, faced in lime render over a brick plinth.
Tribulations with the groundworks delayed the build considerably and the family were relieved when the frame could finally be erected.
The oak frame gave the building a sense of solidity and was quickly followed by partition walls, the roof and the formation of the internal spaces. Since moving in the couple have found their home to be practical and warm, with surprisingly low utility bills. Whilst not achingly obvious, this traditional looking home benefits from superlative insulation and passive solar design.
Overall it’s been quite an experience,” says Colin. “Thankfully the house is much admired and most importantly does justice to the site,” Jenny adds. “We’re delighted with the house and immensely proud of our youngest son’s vision and talent.”