Posted on: 23rd September 2017

An Oak Frame is a perfect accompaniment to an eco-home, wood being one of the most sustainable building materials. Carpenter Oak has worked with several clients with eco and sustainable living in mind, from those who want to include eco elements in their projects to those who have opted for a fully off grid lifestyle.

Eco living on a budget

Petrea and Rick wanted to build a home that blended seamlessly with their rural plot. They chose to build a 1 ½ story traditional style oak frame Cornish retreat, wrapped in SIP’s to give superior insulation and reduce their energy needs.

Wanting to use renewable technology where possible and as their budget allowed, Petrea and Rick opted for Thermal Hot water Panels to fulfil all their domestic hot water needs. In winter the water temperature is topped up by their wood burner which has a back burner linked to a thermal store and underfloor heating.  This allows them to heat their house and water simultaneously.

Petrea found that having a tight budget and an eco-conscious collaborated well when choosing the various aspects of their home.  Instead of familiar painted, gypsum plaster walls, Petrea chose lime render which remains unpainted, showcasing the natural cream colour and texture.

The flooring is softwood throughout, painted with ecological paints.

“Leaving these raw materials on show saves money, reduces environmental impact and is in keeping with the rural, almost agricultural feel of the oak framed building”

Pertrea, Build It April 2014

Externally the building is clad with cedar with a roof of reclaimed Delabole slate. The reclaimed Delabore was 1/3rd cheaper than new and offered a more environmentally conscious alternative.

Sustainable lifestyle.


Annie and Nigel wanted to build a sustainable home that reflected their natural surroundings by use of natural materials.  Their oak frame home is married with block to provide longevity and is clad in Siberian larch with a slate roof.

The house is powered by 16 solar panels and a ground source heat pump. A borehole in the garden provides them with water and all their food is produced on their smallholding comprising of sheep, chickens, horses and a vegetable garden.

Natural materials are used throughout the house; slate and oak flooring, solid wood kitchen units and walls that are a mixture of plaster and timber boarding.  Even reclaimed furniture helps the Laings in their goal to achieve sustainability.

“We knew that if we were going to build, we wanted to make sure that we didn’t impact any more on this planet, if we could help it,”

Annie Laing, Devon Life August 2016

Completely off grid.


Vickie and Mike fully committed to an off grid lifestyle when they purchased their 9 acre smallholding with off grid house.  They replaced the original house but dedicated themselves to staying off grid by use of solar panels, batteries, a generator (which they use only for 1 ½ months), an existing well and wood fired heating and cooking systems.

They started with a small eco cabin which they lived in whilst constructing the main house, the cabin then became part of the main house at a later stage.

“Self builders living in micro cabins, well insulated, beautiful, sustainable construction, and this becomes part of the final house. Plus we get to try out lighting, heating, electricity and cooking off grid and see what works and what doesn’t before we commit to the whole house. A microcosm of our future lifestyle.”

Vickie Ward

Much of their build materials are natural, high quality, sustainable and recycled.  Chris Brookman from Back to Earth provided Vickie with a wealth of expertise and confidence.  Vickie and Mike were very much hands on in their build process and enjoyed working with the materials Chris had recommended, finding them easy to handle and fit. Vicki has created her own blog that details the entire project and all the practical elements.

Due to the nature of their off grid living the house is full of products that enable this. My personal favourite is their Klover Smart 120 pellet burner, boiler and cooking stove.  Completely programmable in much the same way as a gas boiler so you won’t get caught out by any cold spells and won’t have to wait before cooking.

Vickie has reached the point where she no longer thinks about her off grid living, she attributes this to fully committing and investing in the off grid concept.  The professional knowledge of Roderick James Architects was also significant to their success.

Wood can be used for innovative design, is sustainable and can be beneficial to your health and well-being.  Wood for Good promotes the use of wood and provides a wealth of information for anyone thinking of building with wood.

As well as supporting sustainable European forests, Carpenter Oak work closely with the Woodland Trust charity in the UK, who campaign for, support, replenish and establish forests across the UK.

If you are thinking of your own project, eco or otherwise, please contact us.