Client: Peter Williams
Style: Modern style with traditional character
A mixture of modern style and traditional character, Peter Williams’ oak frame home has been finished to perfection. It’s a home that has been expertly crafted to suit the requirements of himself and his wife Pauline; the couple couldn’t be more proud of what they have achieved.
The front of the home is fairly traditional in shape, although with a few contemporary touches (such as the dark weatherboarding and render mix) that set it apart from many of the homes in the area. But it is the rear of the property where the real drama happens – the full height glazing set within oak frame windows is simply stunning – offering the house an abundance of natural light, and giving the owners glorious views of the garden and countryside beyond.
Inside, the property has been decorated with an expert eye. Paint and wallpaper has been selected to enhance and complement the exposed oak beams, and each room and zone has been given its own theme and character. This is all down to Pauline, who has a flair for interior design – although is very humble about how talented she is. But how did the project come about? And how did the couple achieve their dream home?
The couple had lived in a property they had renovated in 2007 – a project that Peter had organised and thoroughly enjoyed. “It was an older property that we completely gutted and then extended,” explains Peter. “I really enjoyed it and I wanted to find a plot to self-build on so that I could work with the people who had helped me on the renovation.”
However, after years and years of searching for land, Peter gave up hope. Nothing suitable had come up, and he was itching to take on another project. Instead, he decided he would do another renovation, and so started looking for another major refurbishment opportunity. “I found this house and I immediately loved the position. The minute I came here, I thought ‘this is it.’ However, Pauline wouldn’t even get out of the car! She hated how the house looked.”
The home was not up to modern standards; it had been configured in an awkward and clunky way. Additions over the years hadn’t been done to their best and overall, the property was in need of some TLC. The original house dated back to the 1960s – it had a flat roof and numerous later additions dating back to the 1980s – the layout was terrible – the kitchen was in the middle of the house, and the kitchen window didn’t even open out to the garden – it opened into a sunroom. Thankfully, Peter had an abundance of creative ideas of how he would transform the house and managed to win Pauline over.
The one thing on Peter’s wish list was having a home with vaulted ceilings that incorporated oak frame. “I got in touch with Welsh Oak Frame – I had seen them in a magazine. Paul Edmunds from the company came out to see me and the property. I wanted his ideas on how we might renovate the house – he just said to me ‘I would knock it down’ which is what some of my builder friends had said, too.” The property was a warren of add-ons and annexes, and Paul recognised the effort and cost that would take to remedy this was not worth the outcome, something that Peter was in agreement with.
“We knew that if we renovated, everything would have been a compromise. We wanted high tech and all the mod cons – that would be hard in a renovation. Also, Paul made a great point: If I self-built it would be better with VAT, as I could claim it back at the end. It just made sense.”
Once the couple had decided that a self-build was the best way forward, they went to Welsh Oak with a wish list of the style and design elements that they wanted to be incorporated into the house plans. “They took the brief and created what I couldn’t,” says Peter. “It was perfect. Everything I had asked was there. I had described that I wanted lots of glass at the back, a full-height atrium and at the front I wanted it to me more enclosed – I wanted a ‘glazed-style’ roof – and I wanted this incorporated with a cottage-like feel. Sounds impossible – but they came up with the perfect plans!”
From there, Welsh Oak took on all the planning. “I was working away, and they made it easy for me. It went through in about four weeks – there were no problems. The officer came out, she looked at it and agreed it would be much better than what was there. I had approval at the beginning of January, by the 8th of that month my friend was here with his diggers to start demolition.”
Peter’s friend – who had helped him on his last renovation project – acted as the builder and project manager, and organised all the trades for him. But still let Peter get as hands on as he wanted in the development. After the groundwork’s and foundations had been laid, the oak frame was erected and finished in just three weeks. “Once the frame was up, the scaffolding went up and work on the rest of the house could take place. It was a really good, organised process.”
The interior works took longer to complete than getting the structure of the house up – which the Williams are happy to keep tweaking, and Pauline is still finding furnishings that she knows will look great in the various rooms.
The kitchen and atrium are the couple’s favourite aspect of the house. The sun shines in and it’s bright and spacious – exactly what they wanted, and perfect for entertaining their family and friends. “I would recommend that anyone planning to self-build should work with people that they get on with. It made a real difference to us. Because we were at ease with Welsh Oak, they were happy to translate my ideas and work hard to make them work! Our builder also knew us, so was happy to let me be part of the project, and I was at ease to ask questions whenever I didn’t quite understand something. We really have got a house that we are proud of.”