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Imaginative design for a cliff top home.

This cliff edge site on the St Mawes estuary needed a timber frame construction on numerous levels to make full use of its fantastic views. The contemporary looking frame was constructed from Douglas fir with stainless steel tie rod trusses, and the frame was painted white to further enhance the seaside feel. A roof lantern draws light down into the centre of the house and it is a dramatic central design feature, with the added benefit that roof glazing is significantly more efficient at lighting when compared to windows in walls.

Perched on top of a cliff this was a tricky site, but timber frame construction is very accommodating for building on slopes and we have years of experience in working with vertically challenging spaces.

For a great introduction to building on a slope you can read further here.

Building in Douglas fir

Douglas fir is a quality softwood which is readily available in the UK and ideally suited to structural framing. It is very straight grained and this means that you wont find any curves in a Douglas fir frame, unless they are very gentle curves 'forced' out of larger sections. It is more stable and predictable than oak, and holds a decent edge when cut. This means it works well as a planed timber, its sharp edges, clean lines and smooth surface making it perfect to incorporate into a modern or contemporary space.

Douglas fir combines well with steelwork to achieve spacious, clean lined frames, allowing for a very light and airy feel to the room, as can be seen in the St Mawes house.

As well as crafting frames in oak and Douglas fir we can also use glulam, and for external cladding we can use larch.

Incorporating Steel with Wood

The introduction of steel work into a frame instantly opens up the options as to what is possible as there are any number of different approaches possible with the construction method. Steel tie rods and bowstrings can make the spanning of huge spaces achievable and it brings a crisp modern look to a space without the mass of large section timbers. You can also combine steel with curved timbers to give barrel roofs or curving walls, perfect for contemporary design.

Timbers can also be jointed using steelwork in a variety of ways – bolts, flitch plates can be used to end join or sandwich timbers together, with the fixings left surface mounted to give an industrial look, or highly polished and recessed flush into the timber to give a sleek finish.

If this is something you are interested in speak to us about how we can incorporate steel into your timber frame project.

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Felled oak tree in Normandy ready for transporting to the timber mill. The first step in your Carpenter Oak Cornwall journey.
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