Selfbuild 123 - How to Self Build a House


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Timber Frame



Construction - Timber Frame or Traditional Build


Both timber frame and brick and block houses have an outer skin (usually brick) and a cavity (usually 50mm). Where they differ is in the construction of the inner wall. With a standard timber frame this consists of a waterproof membrane, sheathing board, structural timber frame, vapour barrier and inner lining of plasterboard. The insulation is placed between the timber frame uprights, and its thickness matches the size of the frame (usually 90mm). With standard brick and block, the inner wall consists of aggregate block and an inner lining of plaster. The insulation is placed directly in the cavity, which is either partially or completely filled.

The main difference between the two types of construction is how the loads of the house are taken. With timber frame, the frame itself supports the weight of the house, while with brick and block, both the outer brick and the inner block take the weight.

The internal walls and floors also vary in construction. With timber frame, dividing walls are plasterboard stud partitions, and floors are typically of timber construction (although ground floors can be concrete). With brick and block, dividing walls are usually solid block, and the floors are typically of solid beam and block construction.

In modern traditionally built houses the walls are built in two leaves. There is internal blockwork wall and the external wall built of brick or stone. These, together with some internal partitions which are also built of blockwork, will support the self build structure of the house.

In timber frame self build construction the internal structure is a wooden frame which has been designed to support the structure of the house. This frame is then clad by a facing material such as brick or stone, to provide an attractive finish.

The present building regulations mean that both methods of construction ensure that the structure is strongly supported and that adequate provision has been made in each case for insulation and inclement weather.

Whilst both methods can provide attractive homes, the traditional method takes longer to construct and finish as the actual self building operation is more painstaking, the houses literally being built brick by brick. In many cases the necessity to have wet trades both externally and internally mean that a longer time is needed to build than timber frame where the kits are erected in a much shorter time and the internal works are drier and speedier.

Another self build construction method is through the use of a permanent insulated formwork system which provides a practical method of building insulated walls for houses. All these methods of construction have their place and demand careful investigation as personal preference plays a large part in the kind of construction finally chosen.

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