Tim and Sam of Hartwood - timeless perfection of historic builings and the future

PUBLISHED: 10:46 22 November 2013 | UPDATED: 10:46 22 November 2013

Perhaps a pool house in oak will set off your home

Perhaps a pool house in oak will set off your home


The traditional and contemporary living spaces crafted by Hartwood Oak Buildings are treasures of the future, Jan Raycroft decides.

How I’d like to leap forward 200 years (subject to the world being a pleasant place, we can but hope) and tour our counties with whoever then passes for a listed building and heritage expert.

I can imagine our specialist praising the design features as we stand in a magnificent room, and declaring: “Well you just don’t see craftsmanship like this these days. It’s a perfect example of the best of 21st century skills.”

This may not be entirely fantasy, although I won’t be there of course when, rather than if, the oak framed barns, garden buildings and garages built by Hartwood Oak Buildings come under scrutiny.

When I share this little thought with Sam McCallum, who founded the business with partner Tim Green back in 1994, he laughs and them modestly agrees it could come true. As he says, these are buildings built to last and each has its own unique design.

Plus of course, history will have helpfully recorded how Hartwood, from their base in East Woodhay near Newbury, were recognised as experts in their art, winning numerous awards.

There was a prestigious Design Award at the turn of this century for their restoration of a historic building. Since then numerous accolades have come the way of Tim and Sam and their team, both for their work and as an employer.

Their partnership reaches 20 years in 2014 and Hartwood are on the move – but not very far. As Sam explains: “We’re moving to a bigger workshop, right next door. It will give us four times the working space and we’re very excited about that.

The Hartwood skills have helped the business to thrive at a time when two trends are bringing more orders, often from clients who’ve seen the results while visiting friends or attending social gatherings.

The first trend is that people are realising how useful an entertainment space can be, on the premises as such, but away from the main home. The result is what we might call ‘party barns’, magnificent structures that can be used for entertaining in so many ways.

Whether it’s overflow guests from a large gathering, a spot to host a family wedding reception or somewhere for younger members of the family to gather with their assorted bits and pieces, a party barn is a great addition. Indeed, one client reasoned that investing in a picturesque barn made good financial sense as he had four daughters who would eventually require wedding receptions! And for those considering moving to gain more space it could be the perfect alternative.

A second trend is for welcoming ‘gathering spots’ in the main home. In the past the tendency was for drinks to be served in one room, then guests move to the dining room and then later to a sitting room. But today there is a move to have a real heart of the home, often a spacious area beyond the kitchen, and here a glazed oak extension can make all the difference.

All of this is one for the sociologists of the future to consider but we hope that they still feel that inbuilt feeling most of us get when near a piece of oak. Tim and Sam find that when they attend displays with examples of their work, people just can’t stop touching it, feeling and enjoying 
the wood. It’s an instinctive thing where we feel a connection with both nature and our past.

Hartwood use green oak. It’s not green in colour, the term covers timber that has been sawn fresh from the tree without going through either a kiln or air-drying processes necessary when making doors and windows.

The oak frame dries after construction, drawing the joints tighter and taking on the familiar appearance associated with traditional oak framed buildings. This natural approach is also ideal for garages as cars and machinery can be stored without condensation problems. A building that ‘breathes’ is ideal, and particularly popular with those who keep classic cars.

Of course it’s not all history. Some of the projects relate directly to modern life, with people choosing to have home offices, gyms or studio flats added to their homes. And the buildings or extensions come in all shapes and sizes. In fact even though Hartwood have been operating for nearly 20 years, each job is unique as the owner’s dream is realised.

Projects can be extensive eye-catchers or perhaps a small and pretty garden structure or insulated porch – the team are happy to look at all potential projects and treat them with care and attention.

This is a good environmental choice as well. Much of the oak used is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and Hartwood aim to use more in coming years. Timber offcuts go into the home stoves of staff, friends and customers, while local meat and fish smokers are happy to use the oak shavings in their work.

You’ll find Hartwood Oak Buildings at Lane End Farm, Hatt Common, East Woodhay, Newbury RG20 0NG. Tel: 01635 253534, see www.hartwoodoak.com

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