Sussex couple build a large bespoke oak framed garage to use as carport and storage space, as well as guest accommodation.
Robert and Janine’s lovely grade 2 listed oak barn in Sussex is spacious and comfortable, but the couple felt the house would really benefit from additional car, storage and guest accommodation space. Family life in the countryside is busy with a lot of driving and guests staying overnight, so the decision was made in early 2014 to self-build an additional building. Their main requirement was to build a four-bay oak framed garage with accommodation above and ample storage space for garden equipment and the general stuff one accumulates over the years.
The couple identified an area of the existing grounds of the property, with minimum impact on the neighbours and the main house. They did a lot of research into what would be the best way to proceed in order to apply for planning successfully, bearing in mind the new structure was adjacent to a 300-year old oak barn. The recommendation from their local planning authority was to try and keep the design as close to the style of the main barn structure as possible. This meant that the couple needed to find an oak frame supplier that would be very flexible in terms of the detail of their design. They wanted a couple of closed bays to house garden tools, machinery, bicycles and general man-stuff, two open bays for cars, a closed half bay for an internal staircase and a log store.
They approached several oak frame manufacturers, including Oakmasters, to obtain an idea of the cost for full design and supply of the garage. Robert says, ‘We spoke to several suppliers but found that many had pre-defined designs and obtaining exactly what we wanted was quite tricky. Our specific requirements included matching the roof pitch, the shape and size of the windows and doors, as well as external wall cladding exactly to that of the main house. We also wanted deeper bays and a chunkier oak frame, something that would be more residential quality, rather than just a car shelter. The ultimate decision came down to the fact that Oakmasters were able to provide completely bespoke solution of a higher standard.’
Oakmasters designed the garage from scratch and applied for planning on the couple’s behalf. ‘The design team were very flexible and accommodating of our requirements and the those of the planning department, making adjustments to the design until we were happy, and the planning went through.’ After 10 weeks, the planning consent was finally granted, and the couple were able to start on the build.
Building work started in rainy April 2014. The first stumbling block the couple encountered were ground works. The area they chose was in close proximity of large trees, with spreading roots. It soon became apparent that the footings would be a much bigger job than originally anticipated. ‘The foundations had to go two metres deep and work around the tree roots. It was a slow and boring process to watch, it completely blew our budget, but it had to be done.’, says Robert.
Whilst the ground works were in progress, Oakmasters got on with the frame manufacture off site. The couple decided to manage the project themselves, using recommended contractors for the building work. ‘Once the frame was delivered and the assembly started, things got exciting. You could suddenly see the progress and the scale of the structure.’, Robert reminisces.
The couple decided to add additional insulation to boost the heat efficiency of the upstairs loft by adding extra insulation, and also include a nice kitchen and bathroom in the downstairs part of the garage, which they sourced themselves and contracted separate installers. Both these additions had an impact on their original budget, but this was a conscious decision on their behalf. ‘The project went reasonably smoothly, apart from little disagreements between different contractors, passing the responsibility baton from one to another, but everything was resolved in the end.’
After 8 months, the project was finally complete, and the couple were able to furnish the upstairs loft.
‘We’re so happy with the garage, but mostly the space upstairs. We used the space as accommodation for the au-pair and now the children are slightly bigger, we often put it up on AirBnb. Guests are very complimentary, love the bright feel of the space and love staying here because of the rural location. We get families and couples looking to spend the weekend in the countryside.
The frame craftsmanship and the materials were top quality. We went for rather chunky, 8-inch post sections, so it is a more premium spec than other suppliers that may have been cheaper, but that’s the look we were going for. And funnily, people ask if the garage was built at the same time as the main barn, originally built about 300 years ago. The fact people can’t tell the difference between a 5-year old and a 300-year old building really means we have achieved what we set out to do: to make the two buildings in keeping with each other.’
See the all the pictures from this project.
Oakmasters design, manufacture and assemble bespoke oak and glulam timber frame structures. For more images of similar projects, see our website gallery. For a no obligation chat or a quotation, please call us on 01444455455 or email [email protected]