The Art of Design – Tools of the Trade

As the first port of call for design inspiration for the majority of clients, an architectural department is always daydreaming about it’s next ground breaking idea.

It’s the common belief of most other structural professionals and contractors in the industry that any architectural designer is constantly developing new systems to build cloud castles suspended on sky hooks, drawn by green unicorns…details to be confirmed by others.

Charged with this very task myself as designer for Oakworth Homes, it falls to me to ensure our Selfbuild homes represent forward thinking homes which are both highly sustainable and of a superior aesthetic quality for our increasingly carbon-conscious clientele working with both self builders and developers.

Say…wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a tool which Oakworth could use to show their client’s how to maximise their homes eventual running cost savings and green credibility before they had even submitted for Planning?

A portfolio that demonstrated in a client-friendly format, what benefits there are to the fabric first approach – designing in next level insulations, glazing, heating systems and sanitary fittings right from the off, with the aim of living better and much more economically on occupancy.

That way, our Self build clients could make informed decisions on the level to which they incorporate such elements to not only support them on ethical grounds, but also to suit a fixed budget both before and after construction.

Just a thought…

We are very busy helping self build clients design and build their dream home, if you would like more information contact me on 0114 2611150.

Please note, green unicorns are an optional extra and will be charged separately ;)

(Blog written by Emma Forrest – Oakworth Homes Ltd)


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My Role At Oakworth Homes – Lisa Sheppard

I have been working as a receptionist at Oakworth Homes for over 3 years. Here I meet and greet customers, prospective self builders and developers, and suppliers. On each visit we always receive comments on how the company has a family feel and how friendly everyone is.

I also produce all the quotations, contracts and letters for Oakworth Homes alongside other administration duties. I really enjoy being involved in helping people make their dream home real and seeing their excitement and ideas. Whilst I’ve been working here I have met a variety of different people such as project managers, self builders, developers , clients, architects and suppliers which have grown into great friendships.

I have recently finished my NVQ Level 3 with the support of my fantastic work colleagues. I am now fully qualified in my role, which has made me very happy that I have achieved this qualification whilst at work. I hope to progress into other areas of the company and look forward to Oakworth’s future projects.

If you would like to create your dream home, why not give one of our sale representatives a call to discuss further on 0114 2611150.

(Blog written by Lisa Sheppard – Oakworth Homes Ltd)


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Wantage – Laying the Foundations

One of the most worrying times in any construction project is whilst breaking ground to construct the foundations or under building as it is sometimes known. At Wantage it was no different. A ground survey was carried out and our structural engineer designed a foundation to meet the requirements needed to resist the loads that were going to be imposed from the new building timber frame building above and distribute these evenly and fully on the ground below. The machines moved in and the foundation construction began. Thankfully we quickly found that the ground conditions were better than we had anticipated and we were able to redesign the foundations slightly and install a more rationally designed structure.

Over the space of a week, the strip foundation trenches were dug, concreted and the block work laid to bring the structure out of the ground.  This was a very exciting time for the band members as they had been waiting and saving for years to get to this point! Shortly after the foundation block work was built the ground inside was prepared and the damp proof membrane was installed followed by the reinforced steel and concrete for the ground bearing slab. The concrete was poured and finished with a tamp finish (scrapped off with a straight edge) and left for a few days before the building work could be progressed.  Three days later, the plinth blocks were installed, these plinth blocks finish the foundation masonry construction and bring this under structure to the finish floor level where the timber frame structure starts.

During this time whilst the (timber frame) foundations are being constructed, the timber frame structure is being manufactured off site in our Sheffield factory in readiness for delivery and erection. The whole foundation process takes only a few weeks (3-4) and is a vital part as to change this at a later date would be very expensive if it was possible, it just isn’t worth trying to cut corners throughout a build project…

For more information please contact us on 0114 2611150

Follow our next blog about Wantage where we will be describing the period whilst the offsite manufactured, timber frame structure is erected…



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A Continuing Problem in the Self Build Market – The Availability of Suitable Plots

The local and national Estate Agents seem to have ignored the Self Build market. As a company, Oakworth Homes are trying to encourage local Estate Agents to look to their land buying departments, to see if, by dividing down their smaller parcels of land and advertising them to the Self Build market. They could stimulate a stagnant housing climate. We all accept the main reason for a slow market is the lack of lending by the banks but when a Self build scheme is done correctly, the inbuilt equity is more than enough to give the cautious lenders the LTV (Loan to value) they need to be comfortable.

I have approached WH Browns in South Yorkshire. One manager in particular was very enthusiastic and spoke to the powers that be. The local director allowed me to put our case across to a meeting of 30 of their branch managers at their next quarterly sales meeting

All of the branch managers agreed with us and saw value in my point. The majority have said they will consider this approach to achieve new area of sales.

This is new to established systems and will take time to filter through, to the more enthusiastic of the managers, but hey, it’s a start!

We need to keep ringing and visiting agents to make them aware of us and that there is a vast untapped market.

People new to self build concepts are more then welcome to contact us for guidance in approaching this and other problems. In the meantime look for old bungalows to knock down, houses that are insurance right offs and decommissioned public houses. All these are a good source of plots in places that are normally ignored by people “house hunting”. Keep ringing the Agents and they will eventually realise the value of the size of market. I will continue working to remind my contacts in the Estate agents sector that they hold the key to un- tapping this vast area

We would welcome your enquiry and encourage you to visit to our factory. A member of our team is always ready to assist you to discuss Finance, plots, design and planning issues.

Happy Hunting!!!!

For more information contact our team on 0114 2611150.

(Blog written by Jeff Franks- Oakworth Homes Ltd)

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Oakworth Production Team

Oakworth Home’s production team are trained to an expert level, manufacturing timber frame homes to a very high standard. We feel that we have set a benchmark for our competitors to look up to, and are very proud to have increased our workforce over the last 6 months. Our aim is to produce your dream home meeting your set target and budget.

We are forever improving facilities in our factory, over the last 6 month we have given the place a complete makeover which has given a much brighter feel to the place. The installation of racks enabled is to free up space and to enable a smoother, safer operation. Safety of our team and visitors is very important to us, and the appointment of an external health and safety consultant ensures we remain efficient, productive and safe.

We are very happy to be recycling 90% of our waste, and are always looking for better ways to increase this.Over 90% of our waste is recycled, and are always looking for ways to improve this.

We have proudly provided a selection of photographs below to give you a better understanding of our manufacturing factory. If you are considering building, why not call us to see how we can help. Thank you for taking the time to read my update.
(Blog written by Lee Wild – Factory Manager – Oakworth Homes Ltd)


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My New Role – Scott Moore

I have recently joined Oakworth homes and have been here just over 4 months. I must say this company is a breath of fresh air in comparison to previous jobs. I have come to Oakworth and I am already flourishing. I like the everyone muck in and help attitude and the atmosphere around the company.  I think this comes from Oakworth having a family run feel to it. You feel a valued member of the team rather than just been a cog in a big wheel with larger more corporate companies. I am very close to completing my first year at college on day release and my skill base at Oakworth is growing all the time. I feel Oakworth is destined for big things, I hope to be here for a long time to come and grow with the company.

(Blog written by Scott Moore-Oakworth Homes Ltd)

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Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) for Self-Builders – To Be Demolished! (Hopefully)

Let’s be honest, when the last government conceived the CIL policy and included self-build schemes within it, it was ill-conceived to say the least ….. I can think of another word for it, but we’ll stick with ill-conceived for now!

Raising finances for local authorities, by taxing and financially penalising those people with the drive and ‘get up and go’ spirit to want to build their own home ….. hmmm ….. not my idea of an incentive strategy!

In fact, it’s reported that 1 in 8 self-builders were put off starting their projects because of the CIL ‘tax’, which could add 10-15% or more to their overall build cost.

Surely a better way to introduce money to the local authority, local community and government coffers, is to actively encourage self-builders.

After all:

  • when the new house is built, the self-builders will be paying £1,000’s p.a. in Council Tax
  • they will be employing local companies and labour to carry out the build elements
  • they will be buying materials from local and national companies
  • etc., etc.

Over simplifying it? …. very probably, but anyway, thanks to campaigning and lobbying by the likes of Homebuilding & Renovating and National Self build Association (NaSBA), the CIL is currently under review ….. and it is thought it will hopefully be abolished for self-build schemes by summer 2013.

Fingers crossed for good news on this soon!

(Blog by Graham Hughes, Oakworth Homes Ltd)


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Wantage Silver Band Hall – Executive Summary

It’s always a challenge to find a good builder, When the team at Oakworth started speaking with the Wantage Silver Band about their new band hall it soon became apparent that they were having the same difficulties. Oakworth decided we could help and submitted a quotation and specification of what we could achieve. Soon after our quotation was accepted and we entered in to a JCT contract with the band. The start on site date continued to slip back due to delays in dealing whilst planning conditions were discharged and approval was sort for the type of drainage system were confirmed.

Eventually the start date came and we were able to clear the ground and install the foundations. Iain Council the Vale of White Horse Building Control Officer has been very helpful throughout the project and his advice in the early days saved the band money. The contract was a fixed price contract with the only area that the price could change being in the foundations in the event of unforeseen complications or our clients changed the specification as the project progressed. I’m pleased to write the project has gone well and to plan with the only delays being the ice and cold which stopped the bricklayers and roofers from completing their works.
The project is now nearing completion and the band are looking forward to take over their new hall in March 2013.
More pictures to follow over coming weeks where we’ll post pictures of the build progressing from start to formal hand over…

(Blog by John Capper – Managing Director at Oakworth Homes Ltd)

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Christmas in the Timber Frame World…

A busy time completing frames prior to Christmas, both on site and in the factory making ready for January 2013 deliveries.

Anyone expecting to start a project in Spring 2013 needs to be contracting for their timber frame through January 2013, to provide the necessary lead time for design and engineering.

With more lead time being provided, the design and engineering stage of the project will progress smoothly giving ample time to review proposals and for you to consider adjustment to the detail of layout and design.

Plan early for your frame to get the most support from your provider

(Blog by John Warrington Oakworth Homes)


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Build during the Summer months …… when it’s nice and dry!

Ask our self-build clients when they would ideally start their project on site and most would understandably reply, during the Spring / Summer months, to allow them to get out of the ground and the frame erected and water-tight during the ‘dry period’.

Well, this year more than most, the ‘unpredictable’ British weather has shown that we simply don’t have that choice in the UK.

However, it really doesn’t matter, as building a timber frame house is not weather dependant, due to the fact that all of the timbers are kiln-dried to a stable moisture content. Whilst it’s raining on site and during construction, this moisture content will only increase slightly and will quickly dry and revert back to this level, even after external masonry and roofing elements have been constructed, as the overall building design allows the frame to ‘breath’.

So if your Planning Approval is granted in Autumn or Winter, don’t be put off starting on site until Spring, get started and get the house built ………… so you’ll have somewhere dry and warm to be ………… during the Summer!

(Blog by Graham Hughes, Oakworth Homes Ltd)


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