Timber Frame Construction
In the UK, the most popular build methods use masonry and timber frame for new builds and extensions.
There are two main types of timber frame construction:
- Stick build – the carpenter constructs the timber frame on site; and
- Prefabricated – the timber frame in constructed off-site under factory conditions and then delivered to site where it is erected.
Using a prefabricated timber frame from a reputable timber frame manufacturer is a good idea, as this allows for a high level of quality control and assurance.
Stick Build Timber Frame
For extensions, obtaining accurate site dimensions can be near impossible until the structure is exposed showing the original construction. This can lead to delays as most manufacturers would require this information six to eight weeks prior to the delivery date. Due to the limitations associated with building extensions in timber frame, stick build construction is the usual go-to.
The timber frame would be designed by a structural engineer who would also provide all relevant construction specifications. The carpenter would order the required materials and as they are individual components, they are easily man-handled onto site.
Once on site, the carpenter would build up the timber frame panels in accordance with the specifications of the structural engineer and designer. As the existing structure would be exposed (since the site would be under construction at this point), the carpenter can obtain accurate dimensions and build suitable panels.
Ensuring a Seamless Execution
It is advised to start your process at least six months prior to when you want works to begin. The architectural design, planning permission, building control approval, quotes and finding the right contractor should be carried out before the commencement of work.
Employ an architectural designer like Acre Design, who has plenty of experience in designing timber frame extensions.
Speak to your neighbours and inform them of the house proposal to ensure good relations are maintained with neighbour.
Building control plans should be prepared and a structural engineer should prepare the building specifications.
Acquire competitive quotes from contractors who have experience working with timber frame construction.
In your budget, include a contingency of at least 10% for unexpected works.
Prefabricated Timber Frame
With a reputable manufacturer on board, the detailed drawings drafted by the architectural designer and the relevant planning permission approved, ground works can begin. Based on the drawings, the timber frame is designed, and an engineer will design all structural elements. The foundations are also designed which allows the builder to work on site while the timber frame manufacturer finalises the details of the design.
When the foundations/bases are completed, the dimensions are checked on site before the manufacturing of the frame begins. Once manufactured, they are wrapped and transported to site.
On site, the walls are set out on the base and a crane is used to lift the frame onto site. The timescale is dependent on the complexity of the project, but a timber frame is typically erected and weather tight within 5-7 working days. Once weather tight, the other trades can commence their work and after services are complete, the air-tightness, insulation and slabbing is completed.
- Cost is generally accepted as being less than traditional masonry construction,
- Timescale is more predictable and less dependent on good weather conditions which is ideal for those who reside in the North East of England and Scotland,
- Structure can be made wind/watertight faster (days not weeks) and can be finished in as little as eight to ten weeks,
- Can provide high levels of thermal performance and air tightness,
- Less deliveries resulting in less disturbance to neighbours,
- Highly insulated and therefore very energy efficient,
- Lightweight and easy to transport,
- Environmentally friendly as timber is sustainable and renewable,
- Low production energy as it takes little energy to convert trees to usable timber,
- Efficient use of material and reduced construction waste due to controlled engineering and fabrication.
- Not suitable construction material for elements of the building below ground level,
- Steel work or additional structural support may be required,
- Does not offer much thermal mass (ability to absorb heat from the sun and release it back into the house),
- Susceptible to decay when exposed to excessive moisture.
Beautiful to Look At
Timber frame can be used for almost any type of home design, from bungalows to multi-storey flats, allowing you to create a bespoke home in any style that is tailored to you and your needs.
It can also be finished externally in a wide variety of finishes such as render, stone, brick, timber, fibre cement cladding, metal cladding or tile.