I love wood and I’m a bit of a designer, maker and fixer of things. When we returned from overseas (the first time) in 1989 and moved to the Rugby area we were faced with the option of buying a house or building one. We were fortunate to find a plot of land and so did the latter.
The love of wood pointed us towards doing something in green oak. A leading green oak company at the time was Border Oak so we made an enquiry. They didn’t get back to us. They probably knew that they were out of our league. In the end we went for a Potton kit – a Gransden C. The Potton company specialised in volumetric construction. In other words the building of structures – room by room – in a factory, complete with plumbing, electrics, tiling and so on. They then take these rooms to the site, lower them in place, connect them all up and then go in and hang the curtains. They built most of the Travelodges in the UK in this way.
The Gransden range, and some of the other ranges they do, are of a post and beam structure with the posts and beams made from sand-blasted Douglas Fir. The posts extend into the first floor and support the softwood rafters.
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I never thought I’d leave this house but things change. We started ColaLife and went off to Zambia and rented the house out. When we came back all the reasons for living in Rugby – except for a small group of friends – had gone. We had no reason to be there for work, the children had left home and didn’t live nearby. So we sold up and moved into a house in London with our daughter, her partner and soon to arrive granddaughter while we decided what to do next.
In late 2018 we were ready to put down roots somewhere else and found a small cottage in West Sussex with planning permission for an extension. This was our green oak opportunity! We submitted alternative plans for a green oak extension which were accepted.
Anyway, this experience has left me with the desire to have a go at building a green oak structure myself and I’m being encouraged to do so by my neighbour, Ben, who knows about green oak structures. So the two of us are going to have a go at building a green oak barn and I’m going to document our progress here.