Welcome to my blog, where a 30-something couple from the UK renovate and extend an old cottage, build some outbuildings, raise some hens and grow firewood trees and vegetables on our Acre in Hampshire. It's a bit like a smallholding but without too many animals, so we call it a homestead - living within our means, relying on ourselves and having a wonderful life!


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Barn

When we were looking for our new home, we wrote a list called Our Next Home - it detailed what charecteristics we were looking for, and helped hugely with our search;

  • Garden - 1/4 acre or more
  • Barn - or space for one
  • Three bedroom - but ideally four
  • Parking
  • Large airy kitchen
  • Garden room - or space for one
  • Utility room for washing machines and wellies

Item two was my favorite - I've always loved green-oak barns, and I was longing for the opportunity to plan and build one.

We have a collection of shabby outbuildings at the moment which have done the job, but are begging to be replaced by a proper barn. As it stands, we have a 5m x 3m shed (in use as a workshop and store), a lean-to which is in danger of collapsing at any moment, an oil tank and a garden shed which we rescued from the top of the garden.

Our plan (as it stands...) is to move the shed about 40 metres onto the eastern boundary and put the oil tank next to it - the front of the shed will go where the two posts in the grass are, and the oil tank will to to the right of this picture where the odd red pallet-thing is.

This will leave us with a nice big area for the new outbuilding, rather grandly dubbed The Barn. It will be green-oak framed - meaning the oak is cut and fitted together when green, or fresh - the mortice and tenon joints will then pull tightly as the oak dries. The building will be 11m long by 6 metres wide, and will accomodate two parking spaces, a workshop and a summer house / garden office room.

The best thing about the Barn is that I'm going to build it - from scratch. It will be a great project, and a wonderful thing to have done. I don't underestimate the significant amount of work involved, but the cheapest quote we have received is for £12,000 just to supply the oak frame - if we ant this barn, I have to build it!

To this end, I'm going on a course at the end of this month with a firm called Oakheath in Shropshire - 5 days which I hope will arm me with all I need to know about green oak framing. The latest design (there have been five previous incarnations!) is shown below;




  1. Are you going to build the frame from scratch as well? I've built many in my time and the heavy timber soon starts to loose it's appeal after a while - without wanting to sound negative. I'm sure you'll enjoy it just be ready for some heavy lifting!

  2. Kev, I will be building the frame as well - and I am well aware that the longest lengths will be hugely heavy. I'll try not to move anything by hand - my neighbour has a loader on his tractor which will be useful for the biggest bits.

    Out of interest, how long do you think I will spend making a fairly simple joint? I'd imagine making the braces will take longest...

  3. Depends on how good you are! All the joints are fairly simple really, just mortice and tenons. Even just rolling the timber can be tricky - get a local blacksmith or agri engineer to weld you up a simple cant for rolling it, that will help.
    What kit are you using. A chain morticer speeds it up no end as does a cirular saw. I've done them completely buy hand or (like this week) ones that have been produced buy a tennoning machine.

    1. I'll use as many power tools as I can to speed things up - I'm looking to hire a chain morticer for a week, so all the joints will have to be marked up in readiness for that. If that would be too rushed, I'd buy one second hand and then look to sell it again to recoup costs. I think most of the physical work will be laying out to mark the joints, and the mental work will be measuring about ten times before I cut!