Friday, 24 February 2012

Pictures from the yard and workshop this week

It has been a manic week at home and at work - and I thought you might like to see a few pics taken of various projects on the go.

This is the final truss for our two bedroom barn frame that we are erecting at the Homebuilding & Renovating show at the NEC at the end of March. We will have a cruck framed barn and also a porch and a garden studio.
Sometimes I wonder if these shows are really worth the stress and effort (I can basically wipe March off the calendar as the whole month is occupied with show stuff - not to mention February and January) but it is lovely to meet people and demonstrate what we do - and if we weren't there people might forget about us?! I just wish there was a way to make it less labour intensive for all of us.........a 'virtual' show has been suggested.
Anyway-  moan over -  the show building is being made by Joe, Chris and Joe in our smaller workshop (which is very sunny) and all those wooden things you can see in the background are the ply templates for braces and awkward beams. I love the atmosphere of the workshops - with all the traditional tools, the rustic industrial trolley and trestles, the old fashioned workbenches and vices, the smell and the sawdust.........reminds me of my childhood!

And this monster frame is just a small part of a lovely project we are building in the South. Each house is 'framed up' in the yard to check and tag - and luckily the clients timed a meeting to coincide with seeing their frame laid out in all its glory. The whole house occupied the yard and the workshops for three days just for tagging. HUGE!

It's a complicated frame with lots of unusual joints and a great deal of love and passion has gone into it. The carpenters were really pleased to see the owners as it makes everything so much more personal - and it is great for them to hear how pleased the clients are too. I think the clients were relieved to see where the money has gone, but also to finally get an idea of what their home will look like. It is a very exciting time and will get more exhilarating once the frame starts to rise on their plot. Doug - the workshop manager - did say he thinks it might take a bit of head scratching on site though - it is very intricate!

This is just one side of the roof - which took the entire length of the 'long workshop' It was a bit like an optical illusion.

One of my favourite elements of our oak frames, and quite distinctive to Border Oak ( a true sign of quality  - I would say that wouldn't I?) are the rounded, champfered jetty/purlin feet. And this pic also shows the boxed heart perfection of our 'Restoration Grade' , FSC and PEFC approved oak - a wood sniffers dream!

Have a great weekend

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Survey Questions

Would you like to help me with a bit of research? It would be very useful for a couple of my projects if you could answer these three questions.....

1. Where did you first hear of Border Oak?

2. If we had a 'demonstration' home would you like to visit it?

3. Would you be interested in attending seminars/workshops/courses in subjects such as sustainability, architectural design, interior/landscape design, construction, heritage skills etc?

You can either leave a comment here or email me at

I really appreciate your feedback and will use the information to help us put together some exciting projects for 2012.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

holiday home heaven

I am stuck at home today with a throat and eye infection medley.  Although in theory a day of rest and solitude sounds good, I find it so hard not to do stuff (by which I mean house/border oak stuff) so whilst looking through some old files (which is surely the same as 'putting your feet up'?) I came across this lovely little home.
We built it to the customers own design, based on the Pearmain construction system, way back in 2004 (I think). The owners replaced a run down brick barn building, but sticking to the same footprint and profile, and re jigging the interior to provide a three bedroom holiday cottage.
You wouldn't know it was a new build, or in fact that it was a Border Oak/Pearmain cottage, but that I guess is the beauty of self building - everything is different.

I think this limestone fire surround and brick detail is great - it reminds me of Belgian styling which I love.

The external was governed by the building they replaced - they reused the pantiles on the roof

 Lovely brick detailing

The front elevation also has some reclaimed stone incorporated - the window openings had to follow the previous building so are small and asymmetrical.

An open plan hallway and seating area

plus a sitting room with French doors and side glazing - making the room light and open to the garden

Why not come and meet us at the NEC National Homebuilding and Renovating Show to see how diverse our portfolio is? We are taking a two bedroom barn frame and the new Artisan Pod so there will be lots to see. If only I had our new interior and home products ready to show you..................(tease tease tease!)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Some people are good at lots of things

It's true - some lucky people have a 'multi skill' set, turning their very capable hands to a variety of different disciplines. I, however fall into the 'Averagely- Able - At- Most - Things, Excellent -At - None' category. I like to think I cover my shortcomings with dedication, enthusiasm and effort. But I dream of effortless............
Which is a very rambling way of starting a post, but I promise it is relevant. You see, at Border Oak we have quite a few of the blessed 'Multi skilled' including a very good, international standard rally navigator, a World Champion Marble player (I am not even joking - and the fact that he is also an amazing artist and a  all round nice person makes him a tad unlikeable), a life saving fireman and several incredibly good sportsmen. But as of tomorrow we can officially add 'Published Author' to our list, when our Chief Designer - Ewart Hutton -  has his first novel published.

Can you believe that? Not just a vanity press publication but a 'bone fide, has a publisher and agent, is available on Amazon' writer! Amazing, exciting and quite quite brilliant, if you ask me. But hey, what do I know?

Here's a review from someone who does though............(and I can't wait to read it and will be endlessly, shamelessly bragging about the fact that I know a famous author).


'GOOD PEOPLE's corkscrew plot skewers small-town hypocrisy with a wry smile and a sniff of disgust. An entertaining debut with more stings in the tail than a bag of scorpions.' VAL McDERMID
‘Glyn Capaldi makes a hugely impressive first appearance in GOOD PEOPLE … teasingly elusive, and convincing, set in dark woodlands and small towns that conceal more than the reader can possibly suspect.’ CAMPBELL ARMSTRONG

Product Description

Introducing D.S. Glyn Capaldi, maverick cop.
Fallen from grace in Cardiff and exiled to be the catch-all detective in the big bit in the middle that God gave to the sheep. A place where nothing of any significance is meant to happen, a place where supposedly he can do little harm.
But trouble has a way of catching-up with Capaldi. Six men and a young woman disappear into the night. They don’t all reappear. The ones that do are good people with a good explanation. Only Capaldi remains unconvinced.
In the face of opposition from the locals, he delves deeper and starts to uncover a network of conflicts, betrayals and depravity that resonates below the outwardly calm surface of rural respectability. Capaldi is back in the saddle.