October 10, 2017

A characterful Hampshire home has been presented with one of the housing industry’s top accolades at the 2017 Build It Awards

A charming barn-style house has been awarded one of the top prizes in housebuilding at the 2017 Build It Awards. Welsh Oak Frame’s Walnut Tree Cottage, in Hampshire, picked up the Best Oak Frame title thanks to its innovative design, use of materials and artisan creation process. Welsh Oak Frame, often recognised as one of the best bespoke home companies in the UK, has over 20 years of experience in crafting quality homes for self builders nationwide – this is the second time the company has received this prize since the Build It Awards launched in 2013.

For Walnut Tree Cottage, Welsh Oak Frame’s skilled craftsmen combined a heritage handcrafted oak frame with modern engineering techniques to create a truly bespoke and personal home for the Reeves family. Owner Jo Reeves said: “Welsh Oak Frame was excellent in offering ideas and advice throughout the project and went ‘above and beyond’.”

The home was built on site of a previously rundown property – replacing it with a stylish new house that mixes traditional character with modern interior design and state-of-the-art sustainable technology. The barn-style abode was created to nestle into the hillside, giving the owners spectacular views of the countryside. And, while it is a spacious three-storey home, the clever design means it is hidden from view – only a single storey can be seen from the road – meaning it has minimal impact on the rural environment.

Rather uniquely, the home has twinned oak framing methods with modern insulated concrete formwork (ICF) to get the very best from the property. As the house is partly recessed into the hillside, ICF was utilised to give strength and stability to the structure’s lower ground floor. This concrete element not only provides a retaining wall that protects the house from the hillside, but acts as a thermal store – providing an extra layer of energy efficiency.

Discussing the project, judge Chris Bates (editor of Build It Magazine) said: “The winning house is a quintessential example of how oak frame homes can fit into their surroundings, cleverly combining this characterful structural material with modern techniques such as ICF to overcome the challenges posed by a sloping plot.”

The home’s interiors are simply stunning, making the most of the exposed oak beams and reflecting the owners needs and personality. The frame is used to dramatic effect, especially on the first floor. The single height-ceiling in the kitchen zone contrasts with the steeply pitched vaulted ceilings in the hall and living areas – offering the opportunity for the impressive oak frame to really shine. In fact, the architect (Bonnington Architects) designed the ceiling heights to move up and down in accordance with each zone’s functionality. These are spaces that the whole family and visitors can enjoy – if a traditional layout had been followed this outstanding design feature would have been tucked away in bedrooms and bathrooms.



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