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Oak Framed Roof Interior Under Construction

What to consider when designing an oak frame house

What to consider when planning a construction project involving oak timber frames, the first and most crucial decision concerns the choice of your architect and engineer. It is imperative to select professionals who have specific experience with oak timber structures. This advice may seem straightforward, yet many architects and designers lack a deep understanding of the unique strengths and potential challenges associated with timber framing.

Our recent experience with a barn conversion project illustrates this point vividly. The initial drawings were developed without the inclusion of traditional mortice and tenon joints—hallmarks of classic timber framing. Instead, they featured modern steel plates and brackets. This approach, while perhaps simpler, fails to capture the authentic look and feel of traditional oak timber framing, thereby depriving the structure of both its aesthetic charm and structural benefits.

Additionally, the engineer overseeing the project did not specify the use of stainless steel hardware. This oversight can lead to serious issues in oak constructions, as the natural tannins in oak wood can react with ordinary steel, causing corrosion that compromises the integrity of the structure. Understanding and planning for such material interactions is crucial when designing timber frames.

What to consider when faced with these initial shortcomings, we engaged in comprehensive discussions with both the builders and architects involved to address and rectify these issues. Our goal was to realign the project with traditional framing techniques, which not only enhance the structure’s durability and visual appeal but also can significantly reduce construction costs. By foregoing the use of standard steel in favor of approaches better suited to oak, potential savings for clients can be substantial.

For those considering similar projects, it is vital to choose architects and engineers who are well-versed in the nuances of oak timber framing. Although we can recommend professionals with the requisite expertise, we strongly advise conducting thorough research to ensure your chosen experts align with your project’s needs and aesthetic goals.