Cedar House, Herefordshire
Taylor Lane Timber Frame has designed, manufactured and erected a timber frame kit for self-build couple, Tom and Nicola Webb. The modern, family home in rural Herefordshire achieves a U-value equal to Passivhaus requirements – 0.15 W/m2K and boasts a stunning floating staircase. Taylor Lane was selected due to its locality; good service, with a dedicated self-build manager and competitive price.
The style of the house very much leant itself to timber frame – a modern, cubist-inspired building, designed by Jim Hicks of OHA Architecture. Tom and Nicola wanted the house to centre around the large open plan kitchen/dining/sofa area and for the bedrooms to lead onto a balcony with views out to the Herefordshire countryside. OHA Architecture responded with a generously sized, modern family home with a flat roof to maximise internal space and minimise building height.
Homeowner and project manager, Tom appointed the Hereford-based timber frame company to design, manufacture and erect the 140mm timber frame kit. Metal web joists were used to construct the floors, balcony and flat roof; Taylor Lane uses the Mitek Posi-Joist system.
Put our stamp on it
The couple had previously self-built in Hereford five years earlier but the project already had detailed plans approved so they were limited as to what they could change.
This time, “…we wanted to be in a village but close enough to Hereford that it wasn’t an onerous journey in and out, particularly with two young children and all the taxiing around that it brings! We found a plot in a village just outside of Hereford – it was due to go to auction but we managed to agree a price with the vendor prior to this,” continues Tom.
The plot was purchased with outline planning,
“…so we could put our stamp on it. We had the support of the local planning officer with our modern design which helped,” says Tom.
The plot was large and level plus it was in a convenient and peaceful location, adjacent to the village hall and playing fields.
“We wanted to achieve the best energy performance we could, while obviously balancing it against the impact on budget,” says Tom.
The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) calculation generated the U-value required. Taylor Lane designed a package to meet the best possible energy performance – 0.15 W/m2K, equal to Passivhaus requirements.
The 0.15 W/m2K U-value was achieved using 120mm insulation between the 140mm timber frame stud walls, with an additional 30mm rigid insulation on the inside face. 25mm timber battens then formed a service void – an extra air gap to aid thermal performance. The service void allows the self-builder to run cables and piping through without puncturing the Vapour Control Layer (VCL) or insulation.
The property benefits from triple glazed windows, excellent air tightness and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery system. The flat roof also houses roof-mounted solar panels – these can be directed exactly due south for the best performance while remaining concealed from ground level view.
Another feature that Tom and Nicola wished to incorporate into the house was a floating staircase.
“After discussing this with Taylor Lane, they spoke to their in-house engineers and steel fabrication team, and came up with a design that incorporated the necessary steel structure into the timber frame,” continues Tom. “This made it much easier than trying to organise a third party to undertake the work later.”
Where the staircase is positioned, the standard timber frame wall was replaced with a steel frame structure with a diagonal steel beam running the length of the staircase. Steel runners were then welded to the beam and decorative oak ‘steps’ were slotted over the runners to form the stairs. Designed and fabricated by Taylor Lane’s dedicated steel department, the steel structure was constructed onsite for accuracy – the staircase must meet the first-floor level spot on!
“The team at Taylor Lane were great to work with throughout – from initial meetings with Padraig Hurley, right through to the CAD designer who produced the exact drawings of the frame, Jake Underhill; and the guys onsite who put the frame together – Darren Gumbley and his team.”
The result is a striking modern house filled with natural light and featuring far-reaching views across the Herefordshire countryside. It more than lives up to Tom’s expectations.
“Our favourite spaces have to be the open plan kitchen/dining/sofa area – with a young family it is very much the hub of the home, where everything goes on; and the entrance hall with the large skylight and floating stairs.”