Rural Retreat, Herefordshire
Victoria and Jason Dutton have built a traditional country home using modern methods of construction – without sacrificing on style.
“We were the first to have planning permission granted in our village,” says interiors retailer Tori Dutton of the land adjacent to her parents’ home bought back in 2005. “Mum and Dad had bought the house which had a few acres, 13 years ago. From very early on we had our eye on the paddock as a potential building plot. After being advised by a planning consultant that there was no hope due to the then strict rural development regulations, we were thrilled when the Housing Strategy began as it gave us an immediate opportunity to put in for planning.
“We used a planning consultant, John Needham, as we were aware that the application needed to be water-tight if we were to have any chance of building, and permission was granted in August 2015. The only stipulation was a filtration system for the septic tank.”
The success of the Dutton’s planning application prompted two further applications on the same lane, both of which were granted. In addition, permission was granted for a further 10 new builds in the Herefordshire village.
Tori and her husband, Jason had initially envisaged a traditional oak framed house, around 149sqm but after discussing their wish list – four bedrooms, open plan kitchen / diner and garden room, with a local oak frame supplier they fell in love with an existing design.
“It was much bigger than we had originally planned, at 249sqm but the plot was large enough to accommodate the house, and we’re now so glad that we built that extra square footage!”
Tori and Jason then took the extraordinary step of buying the design rights from the oak frame supplier,
“We loved the design but after further research into timber frame builds we knew that with some clever internal and external features, we could replicate a similar look and feel using modern build methods.”
The couple then spent many hours researching timber frame suppliers before settling on local company, Taylor Lane Timber Frame.
“We had heard nothing but positive reviews about Taylor Lane and after meeting with Padraig [Taylor Lane’s selfbuild manager] and talking through our vision, we had no hesitation in our decision to build using a Taylor Lane frame. Padraig was fantastic throughout, as was the supply and delivery of the frame. Every dealing we had with them was a pleasure.”
Based in Herefordshire, the timber frame specialist supplied its 140mm timber frame kit with 100mm rigid polyurethane insulation between the timber studs, 240mm i-joist floor and a combination of standard, attic and stub trusses for the roof.
Taylor Lane’s timber frame is precision engineered in a controlled environment for consistency and accuracy. It can then be built rapidly once delivered to site. A typical three-bed house can be wind and water-tight within a week, a huge benefit for those working to a strict build schedule as follow-on trades can progress without delay.
As first-time self-builders and both working long hours in busy jobs, Tori and Jason decided to appoint a project manager.
“This was the part we were most nervous about. We asked Padraig at Taylor Lane if he could recommend any builders and we were fortunate to meet Ian Harris, who not only oversaw the build but was a great help and support with recommending reliable local suppliers and tradesmen.”
Externally the house is striking, with its traditional combination of timber, brick and render. The new building is two storeys with a gable and two dormers. The ground floor is largely brick with timber cladding to the side and rear. The first floor is rendered and clad with timber. Oak frame adds interest to the main gable. The couple sourced materials and skills locally including the beautiful window and door furniture forged by AWB Metalwork from Ledbury.
One of the main benefits of building with timber frame is outstanding thermal performance. Tori and Jason had to achieve a fairly stringent U-value as part of the overall Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) energy rating – essential for Building Regulations before work commences on a new build dwelling.
“Taylor Lane really helped us with this. Their knowledge about energy efficiency and U-values was instrumental in helping us achieve the targets required for planning permission.
“This is our first new build – we absolutely love it,” concludes Tori. “Every day we benefit from the thought and detail we put into each decision. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen / diner and garden room. It’s an amazingly open and light space, and although the locally-sourced oak beams and columns aren’t part of the structural frame, they still give the feel that we were looking for.”
The interior has been designed and styled by Tori using furniture and accessories from her furnishing company, Meyer & Marsh.