Jane Stott has built a charming new cottage-style home that mixes an internal oak frame with a characterful brick exterior.
A sleepy village in rural Herefordshire was never likely to be the bastion of neighbour-wincing, planner-upsetting radical residential design, and Jane Stott’s new home – designed and built by oak frame package company Border Oak – adds rather than takes away from the charm of houses in this beautiful, undiscovered part of the country.
To the uninitiated, there must not only be reasonable doubts that Jane’s house is built using an oak frame but rather that it is new at all. “It was very important to me that the house fitted in with the village,” explains Jane. “I had lived in older properties – some dating back to the 17th century – before and really loved the way that older houses looked. But I also didn’t want to have to deal with the maintenance issues and higher heating costs of living in the real thing.
“I had heard of Border Oak, and when it became time for me to move on from my previous house, they seemed like an option worth exploring. They had this plot of land on their books, I liked the area and the proposed design, so I decided to bite the bullet and go for it.”
Jane worked with the Border Oak designers to make some changes to the existing plan — in particular opening up the traditional cottage-style three-bay design so that the sitting room would effectively be more open onto the hallway. Jane also insisted on a larger en suite to the rear of the master bedroom, which resulted in an ‘extension’ with a sunroom below.
With planning permission a formality, the project was handled by one of Border Oak’s project managers, Mike Bound. Mike organised not just the supply and erection of the oak frame itself but the remainder of the build, including co-ordinating tradesmen and aiding in the sourcing of suppliers.
“I knew that the choice of bricks and roof tiles would be particularly important,” says Jane. “Border Oak offered me a choice of three suitable options in each case, and even built me mini brick walls to make it easier for me to visualise the end results. I’m glad I went with my choice (Border Oak supply it as their ‘Farmhouse’ brick) — everyone agrees it looks fabulous, down to fine dogtooth course that just adds a lot more interest than if the whole thing was plain facing.”
This being rural Herefordshire, mains gas was never an option and, despite investigating eco alternatives, Jane opted for an LPG solution. “The house is warm and cosy and, as you’d imagine in a new home built with plenty of insulation, underfloor heating and a woodburning stove, relatively cheap to run.”
Jane is modest about her achievements but the simple truth is that this is a very well executed house — built to a high design and a high standard without much fuss at all, it seems. It’s refreshing in that rather than fetishising the oak frame build system, Jane has seen it much more as a means to an end. Inside, the oak frame is far from the centre of attention that it can become in houses built using the same route. Instead, it is an exceptionally pleasant country cottage and suits Jane, and her neighbours, perfectly.