We recently advised members of the Listed Property Owners' Club on the issues around constructing an oak frame within the curtilage of a listed building.
In an article published in their monthly magazine, various topics were covered, including how to approach the planning stages and liasing with conservation offices. The article can be read in full below.
As you will all be aware any development to, or around, a Listed Building can be a tricky, bureaucratic process. Adding an oak framed building to such a property - whether it be an extension, garage or garden room - is no exception.
In addition to any standard planning permission that may be required, which can prove tricky enough, Listed Property Consent must be sought simultaneously. This generally necessitates the involvement of a number parties including, of course, a conservation officer and architect.
To facilitate this process, your selected Oak Framing Company would ideally be involved from a very early stage. As every Listed Property owner knows, the status of their building and its surroundings provides the context against which any development decision must be made, so their input into what can and can’t be achieved is often crucial.
Round Wood of Mayfield, an established national supplier of Oak Framed Buildings, have been involved in a number of such projects. Whilst they are happy to come on board to work on plans already drawn up by the conservation architect, they have often been called in at the concept stage.
“If a customer still only has a rough idea of what they are looking to achieve, we will carry out an initial consultation with them,” explains Will Sheffield, Head Site Surveyor at Round Wood of Mayfield.
“This involves visiting the property and getting as much information as possible on their requirements and the existing vernacular. Whilst the architecture of the buildings within the curtilage of the Listed Property is crucial, it is also important to consider those within the more general neighbourhood.”
Extensive discussion would also take place at this point on the style of development that would most likely get approval.
“Whilst the key is to maintain the appearance and integrity of the listed building, this does not always mean that the oak frame must be designed to match,” Will Sheffield adds.
“We have been involved with extensions, for instance, that have needed to be distinct from the existing building so they were given a modern feel. The conservation officer was keen for the original to stand out by itself and not be seamlessly integrated into a new structure.
“Generally, however, and almost always in the instance of outbuildings such as garages, garden rooms and home offices, remaining in keeping is the major objective.”
Following this initial visit, sketches of the possible development are drawn up. These are provided to the customer for feedback and any required revisions are made. This process is repeated as often as is required until the desired building is achieved.
At this stage, the Technical Design team gets involved. A CAD technician will work closely with the surveyor to translate sketches to detailed plans. Once signed off, these can be formally submitted for the required permissions.
If Round Wood of Mayfield have not been involved from the concept stage, they are generally brought in on a consultation basis before plans are submitted. Involvement after this point allows for the possibility of plans being approved, but then being unachievable or unnecessarily expensive from an oak framing perspective. Any subsequent modification would then have been sent back into the planning and Listed Property consent process.
Even at this stage, advice is often sought on a range of issues to ensure that applications have the best chance of being approved.
“There are a lot of factors that can be taken into consideration by the authorities,” Matthew Lyward, Sales Director at Round Wood, points out. “These can range from major issues such as which roof profiles are permissible, right down to minor details, such as which tiles are used. All of these can determine whether the appearance of a building is significantly altered.
“Generally speaking, working to the highest standards possible are desirable with Listed Properties. So opting for oak weatherboard and rafters over cheaper softwood equivalents may well save money in the long run as the building is more likely to be approved first time around.”
Once the development is approved, the frame is finally made. Round Wood of Mayfield use traditional crafting techniques - including curved braces and mortise and tenon joints - and dry fit every component in their workshop to ensure ease and speed of fit on site.
Whilst Round Wood of Mayfield’s own installation team erect the vast majority of frames they supply, homeowners can use their own fitters. This can prove more cost effective if skilled carpenters are on site working on other projects or are readily available locally.