Rupert and Julie Upton's Grand Designs Oak-framed home

An oak-framed hideaway

Grand Designs talks to Rupert Upton about his and his wife Julie's Berkshire countryside build

By Lyndsey Culf |

TV Grand Designers Rupert Upton and his wife Julie took a leap of faith when creating their home in the shape of a cross in the Lambourne Valley, Berkshire. We asked Rupert to share his tips from the project.

What did you enjoy most about the build?

It was great seeing the ideas that we had developed with the architect, through modelling and planning, come together.

How is the oak looking, both inside and out, now that it’s had time to age?

The oak has weathered to a silver-grey tinge, which developed over five years. We are very happy with how it’s turned out and the inside has also stopped moving. It used to crack and split quite noisily, but it’s harder than rock now.

Oak framed home kitchen blue work surfaces blue aga oven

Photo: Mel Yates

What’s the best thing that you spent money on?

The oak frame was our biggest expense, erected in just seven days, like a giant jigsaw puzzle – it truly made the project.

What one piece of advice would have saved you time?

Try to nail down your suppliers as to exactly when they can deliver. It’s not just about fixing a good price; delivery times can really affect the overall project and, consequently, the budget.

Many Grand Designers run over budget. How did you deal with it?

As soon as you realise that you might go over budget, speak to the architect. Find out whether there are methods that will save costs without changing the overall effect. We adapted our project when costs were overrunning, and the result worked a treat.

Grand Designs Rupert Upton. man woman sitting at wooden table child on mezzanine oak framed house

Photo: Mel Yates

Do you feel that your design has stood the test of time?

Yes, it has; it works perfectly as a family home. It’s filled with light, warm in the winter and lovely during the summer months, too.

Do you have any tips for choosing a team?

Research is so important. Look for people with a good reputation and meet them beforehand to see if you get on. It’s vital to decide for yourself if you can work with them, not just rely on recommendations.

And are you ever tempted to try another project?

Yes, but not at the expense of selling this one.

ash coloured oak home four large trees grass

Photo: Mel Yates