Content supplied by Oakwrights

As with any self build, you need to be realistic about your budget before putting your project to a designer or package company. Fortunately, since oak frame homes are pre-fabricated, you are likely to experience more cost control than with other construction systems. David Grey, sales director at Oakwrights, explains how to build an oak frame home on a budget.

What are the key factors that influence the price of an oak frame build?

The overall build price of a timber frame home is influenced in the same way as all builds. Your chosen build route (DIY, project managed, turnkey), any complications with the site and levels of fixture and fitting will all have an impact on cost.

With a bespoke oak frame package of structural oak frame and insulated wall and roofing encapsulation system, the price is also influenced by the complexity of the design — the more complex the design the higher the price. However it is worth noting that utilising a structural oak frame in a build does not dramatically increase the overall build cost, generally an increase of 5-10%.

How do you design an oak frame home to a budget?

For any build, a simple design will keep the costs down. Remember that a standard rectangle or square is the most cost-effective shape to build and don’t overcomplicate features such as the roof or windows. The beauty of an oak frame is that by nature of the product, you are guaranteed a characterful home, even if you build something very basic.

Oak frame companies offer in-house architectural and quantity surveyor services to help you build to your budget, so always be clear what this figure is from the off. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of land, and non-material fees such as planning applications, warranties and insurance.

Would you recommend self builders opt for just a ‘supply and erect’ package and manage the rest of the project themselves?

This depends on a client’s skills and availability. A supplied and erected oak frame and insulated wall and roofing encapsulation system gives our clients a watertight shell to work with. Our clients can then choose whether they complete the work from there (perhaps appointing their own subcontractors), or go for our full turnkey package to take the project to completion.

Most people who choose to finish the work themselves have some prior experience of the industry, but it isn’t essential. If clients do not have the time and skills to dedicate to the project they are better to go down the turnkey or main contractor route, to prevent the project dragging on which could cost more in scaffold hire, plant hire and site services such as storage, security and even portaloos.

What’s the most cost-effective way to incorporate glazing?

Building Regulations demand reasonable levels of energy efficiency and airtightness, but most of our clients want to achieve much higher levels. Glazing and external joinery, windows and doors, are key components in creating an energy efficient and airtight home. Depending on the architectural style of the building there are different ways of incorporating glazing.

Modern oak framed homes often feature large areas of glass and glazed gables. The most robust way of incorporating lots of glazing into structural oak framing is by the ‘face glazing’ method; this is best done by a specialist contractor and again is an in house service provided by oak frame suppliers. Other windows and doors can be standard joinery and fitted into the walling system,

Why might a hybrid approach (incorporating some softwood framing) be a good way to save money?

Sometimes there are areas such as utility rooms, boot rooms and WCs where clients may not deem it necessary to see an oak frame. In these cases the wall and roofing system will become structural allowing for the removal of the oak frame.

The character and beauty of the oak frame is still apparent where you want it to make the most impact in the main areas of the home, and there are cost savings in the other informal rooms. Some designs lend themselves to this approach, therefore it is crucial that this should form part of your architectural brief in order that the savings can be achieved in the build process.

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