Graham and Philla were planning to build a family house on a large plot on the outskirts of Bedford and dropped by our stand at the NEC Homebuilding and Renovating Show in the spring of 2019 to show us the plans and discuss ideas. There was talk of a full oak frame with encapsulation, along with ICF (insulated concrete formwork) walls with an oak framed roof, and quite possibly various other options too including, as memory serves, lego bricks, breadsticks, and car tyres, although I may have made up the last bit…
With so many ideas, we wondered whether this particular enquiry would ever come to anything, especially since Graham was busy managing his thriving sound design and audio company in London. It seems we made a suitable impression with our “we’ll have a go at anything” attitude, despite competition from the big beasts of the timber framing world. There then followed a period of six months or so as Graham refined his build route choices while we quoted accordingly. The breadsticks and lego were ditched (wisely) in favour of traditional cavity wall construction with a large vaulted oak-framed roof.
As is the way with most projects, it took a while for things to get going, and we didn’t start making the frame until Graham had begun work on the masonry walls back in September.
Graham was concerned about the final truss spacings, and so we held off framing the purlins and ridge beams until the very last minute. Indeed so last minute that I remember calling Graham from the workshop to ask him if he’d made his mind up yet?
We spent three weeks fabricating the eight trusses and roof frames.
Eventually, we were ready to ship the timbers to the site and trundle across country to Bedford, wherever that was.
Turns out Bedford is quite a long way East and a little bit South, but Jake and Rory and I found it last Wednesday and readied ourselves for a busy day on site. The forecast was clear but with the likelihood of a strong breeze – not what you want to hear when you’re using a crane with a 37m boom… A wind speed of more than 9.8m/s will shut the lifting operation down straight away so we had our fingers crossed.
Not all of the eight trusses were the same, and some had raised collars that needed reinforcing with stainless steel threaded rods to mitigate the outward thrust at the wall plate.
Thankfully Chris the builder and Graham had got their measurements correct, and we made speedy progress assembling each truss individually, and working our way along the roof.
Thanks to crane operator (also a Graham) and NMT crane hire for providing safe and steady lifting.
Some of the truss tie beams inserted into pockets in the masonry.
The gable truss has two external “legs” and forms an overhang over a picture window. Graham was keen for this to feature two large curved braces.
The wind was picking up, and for a while, it looked as if the raising might be thwarted, but mercifully the windspeed hovered at the allowable limit and we were able to pack the crane off ahead of schedule at 3pm.
Graham receives a Special Award for providing the best, safest, and most secure scaffolding we have ever had the pleasure to work on at Castle Ring Oak Frame. Feeling safe is something to be cherished when you’re putting up a monster frame!
And if that wasn’t enough, he also receives a Bonus Award for popping out to the local farm shop at lunchtime and bringing back the best oven-warmed, home-made pies we have ever savoured.
If you're considering an oak framed building (or larch, or douglas fir), let's talk. We'll gladly put together an outline quote (completely free, with no strings attached). And we need very little information from you to do so.
Equally, we're always here, at the end of the phone, to talk through your ideas.