Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some commonly asked questions which we receive about oak framed buildings – and our specialist answers. If you do not see the question you want to ask then please call us. We look forward to talking to you.
What areas do you cover?
We are based in the West Midlands, but the like our name suggests we design, supply & build oak frames throughout the UK. It really depends on the size and nature of your oak framed project, as to whether it lends itself to a full build package or a supply only option. It’s always best to get in touch and discuss this with us at an early stage, as we can advise which build route to take.
What are the advantages of having one of your oak specialists visit me on site?
Our oak specialists come with a wealth of knowledge and experience, once on site they can asses and advise you on your project. Based on your needs, your budget and the practicality of your proposed design they can direct you accordingly. Being on site enables our specialists to identify potential build problems such as access or existing buildings/pipework/wiring. They then work to resolve these issues.
How long does an Oak frame building take to erect?
Obviously, the time it takes relates to the size of your proposed project. However, all of our frames are manufactured and assembled in the workshop beforehand. They are then taken apart and delivered to site where our expert fitters will erect them and secure them with fixings and oak peg dowels. Erecting our frames on site is the quickest part of the process and we are able to construct large oak frame structures in a matter of days.
What type of buildings can you provide?
We have extensive experience in designing and building a wide variety of oak framed buildings. The buildings we have made range from gazebos, garages and garden rooms to houses, pool enclosures and complexes. Most types of buildings are possible for us as well as a wide range of oak accessories and we are happy to advise you on any situation.
Do I need planning permission?
We would recommend talking to your local Planning authority for initial advice. The Factors that are taken into consideration are the size and location of the existing building and if your property is listed, in a Conservation Area, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Park or the Broads. Further information on this can be obtained from the Planning Portal:
Will I need to arrange an electrician or grounds men separately?
Nationwide Home & Leisure cover managing the whole process from planning through to completion, or simply just supplying you with an oak frame kit. So yes, we can undertake all the other build elements such as, foundations, brickwork, carpentry & roofing or supply you with an oak frame kit with detailed plans and instructions to follow yourself. We believe in giving our customers the choice but we are here to help you decide.
Oak cladding or softwood?
Oak cladding is a much more durable timber than softwood. It has the advantage that no further maintenance will usually be required for anywhere between 25–100 years. Typically, oak will have a service life in excess of 2-3 times longer than treated softwood.
Is building with Oak expensive?
Because each project is different and the cost of each build depends on so many different factors, this is not a question with a simple answer! The good news is that we are able to give you an idea of budgetary costs quickly once we know approximately what it is you are looking for. The best thing to do is to give us a call and chat with us on the phone. Even if you are just researching ideas, we will still be able to provide guidance and a ballpark figure for the cost.
Will I need to treat my oak frame?
Most hardwoods such as oak are naturally weather resistant. Left untreated your oak frame will weather to a nice silver colour in around a year, it is not necessary to treat oak and it will not affect its lifespan. If however you want to change the appearance or colour of the oak there are varnishes and oils available to achieve your desired result.
Can I pay with a credit card?
Yes – we accept all major credit cards giving you peace of mind knowing all payments are insured by your credit card provider.
How do you ensure that the oak frame building is watertight and wind tight, when oak can shrink?
Shrinkage in oak simply has to be planned for and managed – there are oak buildings which are hundreds of years old, showing that this can be achieved without a problem. In many respects, timber is no different from any other building material: all building materials expand and contract to some degree. In fact, with a change of heat, timber expands and contracts less than steel. So, the fact that oak can shrink doesn’t matter, as long as you know how it is going to shrink and that you accommodate this – it’s all in the detailing (whether that’s in the interface detailing or the joints). It’s not a problem to accommodate shrinkage so that the structure and aesthetics of the frame is maintained over time.
How long will the oak frame building last?
This is a question which no one can answer, any more than they could with other building materials. What we do know is that oak frames houses have a proven history of lasting, in very good condition, for hundreds of years. If an oak frame is looked after, there is no reason why this shouldn’t be the case – the only reason an oak frame can be compromised is if it gets damp and is allowed to remain so.
How ecologically friendly is my building?
Very. A green oak frame (and frames made from other wood) takes less ‘embodied energy’ (the amount of energy used to extract, process, fabricate and build something) than most other building materials, so using oak is a very sound ecological choice. Of course, there is the concern that we are using a finite resource – but, at Nationwide Home & Leisure, we plant up to ten trees for every one used. The typical age of the trees we fell is around forty to fifty years – since trees make their largest contribution to the environment in their first twenty years, there is no environmental advantage to felling older trees. All of our oak comes from sustainable sources.
What about the fire risk?
Oak frames perform extraordinarily well during a fire and don’t represent a specific fire risk. The reason for this is that once large section timber chars, the rate at which it can burn reduces massively. Even if an oak framed building has been burned significantly, it is usually the oak frame which survives! Also, oak retains much of its structural strength during a fire, whereas materials such as steel twist and buckle. After a fire, it’s not unusual for an oak framed building to be restored, where a steel-framed building may have to be scrapped. Unlike steel, large section timber does not need to be fire-engineered or fire-protected to survive a fire. For these reasons, timber is often the building material of choice in areas of the world where there is a greater fire risk.