Luxury Holiday Cottages in the Yorkshire Dales

Andrew and Diane Howarth own ‘Cottage in the Dales’ a luxury holiday cottage business within the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

They needed to restore the Byre and part of the restoration was to create a first floor with oak beams and oak spars. The tricky bit was to incorporate a solid beam look and cosmetically hide an unsightly RSJ supporting a wall.The following text is extracted from their website:

oak beams in ceiling

“Oak is such a beautiful natural material. It took us some time to find a supplier with whom we felt could understand our requirements. We are delighted to say that Oak by Design based in Harrogate have been fantastic in every way. They have helped us to choose the oak beams, settle the detail around the design with the help of their introduction to ‘Blue Sky Structural Engineers’, also from Harrogate.

On a cold (but dry!) day during February Half Term week, the oak beams arrived on the flat bed truck. Weighing more than 500kg and measuring 5.6 metres long the main beam comprising of 10 inch by 10 inch air-dried oak is uncovered.

On the truck were 29 joists, each 6 inch x 3 inch and up to 3 metres long.

The design was manufactured and pre-assembled to test the frame so it should just all fall into place using the numbered dovetailed joints – not a singe nail or screw to be used! Famous last words!

We used the crane on the truck to off load the oak beams and joists. Despite having 5 strong men the beam is just so difficult to handle so we cheated and enlisted the help of our farmer neighbour Richard McGregor with his fork lift. Richard came to the rescue and made light work of moving the oak beams into the back garden.

The next activity is to manoever the oak beams into a holding position while the preparations are made for the building to receive the beam. The beam is handled upside down so as not to damage the facing edges. Andrew Hawkins Builders, who are helping throughout the project, decided that the best way to get the beam into place is to take it through the side of the house.

At this point it would have probably been best if Andrew (Howarth not Hawkins) had been away for the day – stressful to say the least. Promptly a hole was placed into the wall. Farmer Richard positions the forklift to hoist the oak beams into a horizontal position ready for us to slide the beam through the wall. Now thats fine providing there is someone to catch the beam when it arrives through the other side! So as it passes through the wall, each man in turn runs through into the inside of the barn.

We placed a number of tressles and props to hold the beam in place and slowly bit by bit the beam gets put in place on Valentines Day 2012.The picture below (left) shows the main beam in place and number of the joist locked into position. The beams are now in position tieing the front and rear elevations of the barn together.

The next job is to start to add the joists that connect into the gable end. The picture below (right) shows a number of the oak beams being placed and positioned into the gable end wall. This is a great relief since it probably has been over 20 years since that wall has seen any structural integrity with regards to the rest of the farmhouse.

The downstairs walls cannot be removed for another 3-4 weeks. We have to wait until the mortar holding the beams and joist in place are at their strongest after 21 days….. but there are plenty of other jobs to be getting on with!”