Raising the frame was the two-day culmination of a fascinating and most enjoyable six weeks of manufacture and preparation. But then, why would one get involved in such a large and time-consuming – never mind expensive project – if one didn’t plan to enjoy the whole process.

I’ve known Rob since he was recommended to me for the construction of some oak decking (also designed by John Williams) on the side of my existing house, which is next-door and a little way further up the hill. He came to install it in December 2013, and of course it snowed. It was this job that led me towards an oak frame for the new cottage — with John designing it and Rob building it. Oh yes, Les and his boys also did the footings for the decking as part of the landscaping for my house.

One of the marvels of the frame is the way Rob and his small team of Jacob and Remy have turned 16 tonnes of sawn oak into a complex and beautiful structure in just a few weeks. I had suggested to Rob that he shouldn’t hold back on the “fancy bits” and the end result, with its beautiful curved frames and wind braces, is just right. Standing inside the bare frame is like standing inside a wood, surrounded by trunks with branches everywhere.

The two-day climax of raising the frame was just a wonderful experience and I found I couldn’t keep away from it for long, in spite of having other things to do! Rob was in complete control of the tricky process of lifting heavy beams from stacks around the site to their intended locations on the frame, and instructing and guiding his team to assemble the complex joints. The crane driver, Russell, was inch perfect and Rob alone communicated with him with a suite of hand signals, but never a word.

I’ve worked extensively with small, skilled teams in motorsport and this team was right up there with the best: few words (as with any small, skilled group, those they used were the jargon of timber framing) and coordinated actions. It was a delight to watch. The work was very physical and it was a weary team that completed each day.

Now the frame has been up for two weeks while we await the delayed SIPs (structural insulated panels). Many people have come to view it, often just dropping in as they pass by. It always seems to have an affect on those that come and view close-up, especially when they step inside the frame.

“Wow, it’s like a church!”

“How do they work out those joints?”

“Will you still see the pegs? They are beautiful!”

I can’t wait now to find out how it will look once the SIPs are up. From the outside it will become a monopoly house, but the inside will retain the magnificence of the frame.

Great job Castle Ring!

Next week: Will the SIPs arrive?

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