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Oak Frame Design

Bespoke Oak Frame Design

We produce beautiful bespoke timber and oak frame designs that enable timber structural skeletons – simple or complex – to provide a secure and visually satisfying foundation for an amazing array of buildings.

We can input frame design services at various project stages, directly working with an established team, architect or project manager. We provide:

  • Full technical oak frame design or wrap-around architectural services
  • Architecturally approved Standard Details
  • Plans and design statements required for planning applications
  • Engineering certification of structural integrity needed for Building Control

Our frame design is informed by 30 years of experience. Every single frame and building evolves differently and we ensure that each Carpenter Oak frame design adds exactly the required style and structure.

Our Timber Frame Design Service

Our timber frame designers are here to interpret your ideas and your architect’s provisional scheme. We will establish a well thought out, structurally sound oak frame design in preparation for ordering materials and constructing the frame in the workshops.

Our frame designers can offer advice and ideas to you and your architect in the early stages of your project. Ensuring you start on the right foot and get what you want in the long run.

The timber frame designer will serve as your main point of contact.   They work closely with you and your architect from the early stages of the project right through until the frame raising.  They offer guidance and support where needed.

We have an in-house team of oak frame designers using the latest 3D architectural modelling software.

Standard Details

As part of our service, we supply you and your architect with all relevant ‘Standard Details’ which are advisory details showing the recommended detailing for the timber frame and applied glazing and how they interact with the surrounding build.

These details are architect approved and have been developed over many years to be robust and reliable.


We establish our design work with sound structural guidance from a frame engineer.

The frame engineer works under our umbrella and provides, as standard, a certificate covering the structural integrity of the frame.

This certificate is the basic requirement for Building Control.

Our team has in-depth knowledge of carpentry, architectural detailing, engineering and the practicalities of frame raising. We conceive your oak frame design from all these perspectives.

Our frame designers are well versed in a vast array of styles and sizes of design. Whether your building is small, large, square, curved, wave-form or faceted, they can confidently help you design the frame to fit.

Need more information? Contact us >


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Timber Frame Design

Timber frame design offers unparalleled potential for getting character and beauty into your timber framed home, extension or public building. You’ll find you have the opportunity to infuse that sense of playfulness and informality which is so often missing from conventional builds.

Split levels, mezzanines, floor to ceiling glazing, breathtaking roof spaces, open living spaces, balconies, verandahs: it is reassuring to know that wherever your imagination takes you, our timber frame designers can come with you on that journey. We have a range of styles, techniques and materials to help you achieve what you want and make your design expressive of you.

Your Design Process

The design process starts with you – with your tastes and aspirations. We encourage you to think carefully about the look, feel and aesthetic of the building you are ultimately trying to achieve. This process is crucial to being able to give a clear brief and ensure you get the impact you want.

Look at our project gallery, build a Pinterest board, think about the buildings which have inspired you in the past; sometimes it’s about the small things, the details. We are here to help you, so come and see us early on. We can help you to shape your understanding and ideas and guide you as to what is possible.

Want to know more? Contact us to talk through any ideas.

The Design Team

When building a timber frame, the overall design of the building will be dependent on the design of the structural timber frame, so the two things need to be done hand in hand.

Designing the structural frame is a specialist area and is undertaken by our timber frame designers, while the architect is concerned with the whole build.

The core design team is usually made up of you, your architect and our frame designer, all working closely together to help the final design develop.

The Language of Framing

The frame is a primary structural element of your build. It carries the weight of the roof and floors down to the foundations. Therefore, the position of the primary posts is one of the fundamental considerations.

Usually, the frame is visible inside the building and so these posts can either form part of the partition walls or be freestanding. They will have an impact on the layout of the rooms and should be thought about early on.

There are strong precedences for the combination of timber sections, trusses, spans and spacings which have formed over the years into common practices – what you might call the rhythm & language of framing. Many of these details and conventions were established in medieval times.

These conventions are used to inform sketch designs, an understanding of this helps to develop a sketch scheme at the early stages which is sympathetic to being built with a timber frame. This common language is referred to as ‘traditional’ design, and following these established principles is often the most straightforward and most cost-effective route. There are many other possibilities if you want to get creative. We can work closely with your architect and engineer to develop unique designs.

All of our work is bespoke; we can help you design your frame whatever your ambitions are.

Contact us to discuss your project in more detail

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Design Considerations

Come to us early

Once a scheme is designed it is difficult to ‘insert’ a frame unless the timber frame has been ‘designed in’ from the outset. We can offer advice and guidance early on to you and your architect to get your scheme started on the right foot. Often the easiest way is to come and see us at our yards in Devon or Scotland and talk through your oak frame design ideas with one of our frame designers.

The Architect

Finding a good architect is essential. The architect serves many different functions beyond gaining Planning and Building Regulation approval – they ensure the building is well designed, engineered and detailed, follows sound building practices and meets all current regulations.

If you choose to proceed without an architect, then all of these responsibilities will fall to you. Don’t underestimate the work involved.

Find an architect who regularly works with timber frame designs. Make sure you can discuss ideas freely and communicate well. Check out their past work and speak to previous clients if possible.


Once the design process gets underway, there is a great deal of communication necessary. Taking place between you, your architect, our frame designer, the frame engineer, the overall building engineer, along with other suppliers and contractors. The key to keeping the process simple and effective is to maintain good, clear, quality communication and ensure people make decisions when needed.

To design the building in advance of breaking ground is standard in modern building practice. Decisions regarding room layout, aesthetics, joinery, flooring etc. will all be needed before the design can be signed off and work gets underway. Be prepared to do research and to be on hand when needed to make decisions so that the design can progress without delays. Comments and changes should be made as thoroughly as possible to avoid ‘drip feeding’ information which can complicate things.

Shape: Cost vs Complexity

A structural frame can adopt almost any shape you want. Straight timbers and a design based on ‘boxes’ is usually the cheapest route. This design can still give a simple, refreshing impact. Curved or winding roofs, faceted walls & non-parallel shapes can bring the wow factor, as can split levels, roof junctions, sloping ridges & glazed lanterns.

Distinct detailing and some variation from conventional framing achieve character; there is usually a balance between simplicity and the additional cost of making things more complicated.

Hybrid frames

Think about how extensive you want the framing to be. Your timber frame can be the primary structure for the whole of your build. Or it can combine with block work or conventional stud work to be limited to particular areas. A frame can sit on top of, or within, an existing stone barn or extend from a current structure. Completing an area in conventional building style (such as utility rooms or bathrooms) can help keep your build costs down. Remember that the junctions between different methods will add complication and therefore cost, so chopping up areas too much is not economical.

The advantage of having a full, self-structural timber frame is that there is minimal work to do before the frame raising. Once we have left site, the whole skeleton of the building is in place and work can progress quickly in many areas. If the framing is broken up, the setting out and preparatory block work can be more challenging. The fixing, detailing and weathering between sections will add time and complexity.

Extent & Density Of oak frame design

Within the areas of framing you can do everything in timber – for instance in the roof, the purlins, wind-bracing and rafters can all be in timber and visible. You could go for the trusses and do everything else in softwood outside of the interior finish. This option keeps the appearance far more minimal. This largely aesthetic decision will have some impact on the overall cost.

Contact us to discuss your project ideas and requirements

Meet the team

Selected Projects

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