We’ve been building Reciprocal Frame Roundhouses and Roundwood Timber Frame structures for over fifteen years. The following topics describe some of the key features you might want to think about. Browse these options to help plan your project. Even if you are not yet sure exactly what you want ⇒ get in touch and we’ll guide you through the process.
I advise that your building is free-standing and sits either on pad stones, type1 hardcore footings or a concrete base. Many people build roundhouses with their upright posts buried in the ground, which makes them susceptible to rot. In some extreme circumstances there may still be an argument for this approach but you’d need a very good reason.
We have pioneered our own timber frame jointing system that is extremely robust, making our buildings suitable for schools and public spaces. We use timber in the round because it’s beautiful and strong. Make sure that durable species are used for the frame and that the bark is peeled off. It is sometimes possible to use your own timber if you have trees on-site. This depends on species and form etc but it will not likely save you money unless you are able to fell and extract the timber yourself for free.
7-9 meters diameter is the most common roundhouse size as this holds a normal school class. We can build them as big as 20 meters and as small as 4. Barns and cruck frame buildings can be almost any size. Be modest but be sure you have considered what you may need in the future. If you are unsure please do speak to us first.
The roundhouses we build are usually turf covered although we can fit a canvas top, timber or tin roof. The reciprocal frame roof offers an open space which requires no central support. Our barns and cruck frames tend to have shingle or tin roofs. I personally love to have a living roof on a building and failing that one made from natural materials. However for some needs, budgets it simply is not achievable or appropriate and that’s ok.
Our roundhouses and cruck frames are often used as educational or public spaces. We love involving people in the building process and have worked with school children, university students and volunteers of all ages. These guided sessions are facilitated by Adrian Leaman, lead craftsman and trained Forest School leader. Our team will of course build for you as a normal contractor if that is more appropriate.
Many educational venues ask us to build the frame only, going on to lay their own roof and walls with staff and/or volunteers. That work can be facilitated by anyone with good general building skills, following a day of training, and offers a significant cost saving. We often build the entire roundhouse, including roof and walls. Commonly staff/volunteers will get envolved in the work. This can also reduce the overall cost of construction. To get an idea of costs get in touch and we’ll work through an estimate for you.
Involving children, students, staff or volunteers in the building process is about more than just cost saving. There are as many good reasons for it as there are people keen to be involved. The smiles and satisfaction along the way say it all.
We can advice on planning based on our experience over the last 15years. However it is up to you to determine if you need planning consent and if you wish to apply. Some people choose to apply, some apply retrospectively, others use permitted development rights. Pictured here is the Mobile home we built for Kevin McCloud. This design was chosen to fall within permitted development rights. Please contact a planning consultant if you are not sure.
Our roundhouses and cruck frame buildings are either installed with a natural wood-chip floor or can be fitted with floor boards.
Cordwood is a great walling option using lengths of wood like bricks held together with a cob (clay & straw mix). We can fit these wall although educational centres and schools like to fit cordwood themselves as a volunteer or children’s activity. If this is the case I can give instruction on technique.
Hazel or Willow Walls
We can supply woven panels for the walls. It is also possible to have removable panels which can be taken down in summer to make the space open sided. Again weaving these panels is a brilliant activity to share with groups of all ages and many venues do this themselves.
Wattle and Daub Walls
Woven panels can also be covered in a cob mix to render them wind proof. This is called Wattle and Daub. Applying and mixing the daub is a fun activity for any group to get involved with.
We can also clad the roundhouse with weatherboarding which is a very attractive walling. We usually use Larch or Chestnut planks.
Please ⇒ get in touch to discuss your project so that we can talk through which option best suits your needs and budget.
Further information about Roundhouses
It’s always inspiring to spend time in a Roundhouse. Round buildings are a welcome departure from the square-ness of our normal built environment. They sit very naturally in the landscape and, being similar to the Roundhouses of the Celts, create a link to our past.
The Roundhouses we build feature a Reciprocal Frame roof, which requires no central support. This roof is usually turf covered and sits on 8 to 13 posts, depending on structure diameter. (Severn to eight meters is most common as this holds a normal class, but we can also build them bigger or smaller.)
These structures are elegant and mind-boggling spectacles of geometry in action. The Reciprocal Frame, also known as a Mandala roof, has been used since the 12th century in Chinese and Japanese architecture although little or no trace of these ancient methods remains. Leonardo da Vinci also designed a self-supporting bridge using this method in the 16th century
Adrian Leaman has over 10 years’ experience in Roundwood Timber Framing. He has worked throughout the UK and is considered one of the country’s experts in this construction method. Adrian was involved in Ben Law’s ‘Woodland House’ (featured on Grand Designs) and project managed the build of Kevin McCloud’s ‘Man Made Home’ for the Channel 4 series.