21 Nov 2018

Timber frame buildings and their design considerations

What are the pros of timber frame building designs and what do you have to watch out for?

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Here, Sky House Design Centre explains more.

Construction time

One of the main advantages bandied around a pre-fabricated timber frame construction is the minimal construction time on site.

The timber framing structure of the house can be premanufactured in a factory setting and brought to site ready for construction. This construction on site can be as minimal as a few days, meaning the external skin of the building goes up fast, allowing you to get on with the internal finishes.

You do, however, need to factor in the design and manufacture time that will be done off site. A timber frame construction is an engineered solution and a structural engineer is needed to ensure that the timber frame being designed will take any imposed loads.

This design and construction phase can take up to three months so orders need to be placed well ahead of schedule to ensure that your build goes forward as planned.

As the design of a timber frame construction has very little tolerance, you will also need to ensure that any slabs are level and accurate.

Once installed, however, the installations of internal services and insulation is usually quite straightforward as the walls of a timber frame building are relatively hollow.

Design

There is a wide range of design possibilities now for timber frame constructions. Most build designs, however, can be broken into two categories – traditional designs featuring exposed post and beam supports or modern designs where these timber supports are hidden.

The external skin of a timber frame building is finished in exactly the same way as a blockwork house meaning there can be a very minimal external aesthetic difference between the two. Internal walls are normally stud partition walls finished in plasterboard that can be decorated as desired.

If you wish to extend your home in the future, it might be more tricky if you have a timber-framed construction. Due to the engineered solution of a timber construction, if external walls are to be removed, a structural engineer will need to calculate the implications of removing these walls to ensure the house will remain stable.

Performance

Timber is a naturally insulating material and as walls are normally hollow, it is very easy to add in insulation within the outer walls.

Extra depth can be designed into the outer walls if more thermal performance is required with some homes now opting for a 140mm-thick wall construction in order to achieve Scandinavian levels of insulation.

Although the external walls are very easy to insulate, timber doesn’t hold heat very well, therefore, internal rooms can heat and cool quite quickly. This is good if you want to turn the heating on and the room to heat up quickly; but as soon as the heating is turned off, internal rooms may have the tendency to get cold relatively quickly.

Efficiency

The costs of a timber frame building and a masonry construction are relatively similar, however, overall project costs might be reduced with a timber frame due to the efficiency of a timber frame construction.

Timber is a renewable material and is a completely carbon-neutral construction material; even when transportation is taken into account.

Timber is non-toxic and completely organic and can easily be reused if desired into a new building.

Further information....

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