Padraig Hurley, Self-Build Manager at Taylor Lane, explains why timber frame construction is a proven and popular alternative to traditional brick and block, and can help alleviate those early self-build stresses and strains.
Erected in one week
A typical three- to four-bed timber frame kit could be erected in less than a week; ready for roofing. With the support of a good roofing contractor, the build could be in the dry in as little as a week. Add in windows and doors, and the building can be weathertight in the same time frame. Put simply, timber frame is faster to erect than alternative construction methods, ensuring a shorter build schedule and reduced labour costs (if employed). A welcome benefit for a true self-builder is that no specialist equipment is required for the construction of a timber frame kit.
Timber frame could be approximately 30% more cost-effective than structural insulated panels (SIPS). While the desirable oak frame construction could be as much as 50 to 100% more expensive than timber frame. Yet, the real value of timber frame is only truly appreciated by those who have all their trades organised, making the most of the speed of erection.
What’s the point in a fast construction method if there’s no roofer to make it dry, plumber or electrician for first fix or a dry liner to get the interior fit-out underway? Also bear in mind upfront labour and materials such as groundworks and scaffolding. Organisation and good communication is key to maximising the benefit of timber frame. Taylor Lane maintains contact with its self-builders throughout the process.
Timber frame is an engineered product, manufactured in a quality controlled environment. Each kit is CAD-designed achieving a high level of accuracy, helping to reduce the potential risks for follow-on trades. This also adds to the environmental credentials of the construction method as any wastage is designed out. Ready-made service zones can be built into the panels – unlike SIPS, for example, where these zones must be constructed on site adding to the labour (hours and cost) and potentially delaying the build.
When planning a self-build project, it is worth considering the long-term benefit of certain materials and building methods. While energy performance may not be a key driver, it must still be considered as part of the specification process, not least because of the potential for long-term financial reward.
Many consumers are aware of the energy performance rating given to household goods, but they may be less familiar with a U-value – the measurement of thermal performance or heat loss. Windows and doors have a U-value which contributes to their overall energy performance rating; heat transmission through a wall is similarly measured, the lower the number, the better insulating properties.
It is far simpler to achieve a low U-value with timber frame than traditional build methods. A standard wall constructed using Taylor Lane’s timber frame can achieve a U-value of 0.19 W/m²K, and it is possible to achieve as low as 0.1 W/m²K. A traditional brick and block build would usually need a wider wall construction to achieve 0.19 W/m²K, a bigger cavity with more insulation which would inevitably reduce the room size.