A timber frame in the home building arena is precisely as the name suggests. Construction involves the production of a frame for the building made from strong timber, around which the house is built.
Timber frame construction is versatile in that the frame can be left exposed both on the inside and the outside of the house, or it can be covered internally with plasterboard and externally with rendering or brickwork in order to stay in keeping with other houses in areas where masonry construction is more common.
This versatility extends to the design of the house as well. As the frame takes the weight, a self builder is free to choose the internal layout of the house without have to make concessions for weight bearing walls.
Timber frame houses are also easy and quick to construct which drives down the cost whilst on site. A watertight structure can be in place very quickly thanks to the accuracy of the specifically manufactured beams. This allows building to continue no matter the weather.
This construction technique also requires less in the way of energy on site, as well as afterwards when the house is complete and ready to be lived in.
If you are considering building your own home but are put off by concerns about the energy inefficiency of some methods of construction, then it is worth looking into timber frame construction.
Many home builders are subject restrictions regarding the design and final appearance of the home they wish to build. This is often because planning permission will only be granted to build homes which fit in with the structures in the surrounding area, which often means brick or rendering. With this is in mind, some would be home builders fail to consider timber frame construction in the false belief that the frame will make their home too conflicting in appearance and therefore unsuitable for permission.
In reality, timber frame houses do not have to look any different from more common houses found in many residential areas. The frame itself can be covered from the outside with brickwork or rendering or even stone. Internally, you can choose to leave some or all of the framework exposed to give the house some character and rustic warmth, or you can cover it with plaster.
Home builders can therefore take advantage of the ease and energy efficiency of timber frame construction without breaching planning regulations in their area.
The current debate concerning the impact of everyday people on the environment has caused many to consider their own carbon footprint. When we are considering our own personal impact on the environment, it can be surprising and disconcerting to see the role our homes have to play.
We need energy in order to fulfil some of the simplest tasks at home, but this energy has to come from somewhere. Power stations supply us with electricity and we pay energy companies hundreds of pounds in utility bills to keep our homes heated sufficiently. Much of the heating costs we shell out every year are preventable through adequate insulation, but with certain types of houses limiting our carbon footprint is difficult.
This is not the case with timber frame houses. Timber frame is a construction technique which aims from the very outset to save energy. The houses built via this method are comprehensively insulated so will preserve heat to stop residents wasting precious energy supplies. The on-site energy-efficiency helps to ease environmental concerns even in the construction stage, as the houses can be built incredibly quickly thanks to extensive planning.
If you are a would-be self-builder and have been inspired by recent environmental debate, then timber frame construction will allow you to build the house you want without affronting your conscience.
Timber frame homes are incredibly popular in countries with cold climates. Scotland is a prime example of the sort of environment in which timber frame is preferred, and this reason all has to do with the thermal efficiency of the homes the method produces.
Thermal efficiency is a very simple concept. It refers to the ability of a building to hold on to the heat that is put into through whichever heating method is employed. Ideally, you want your home to hold on to as much heat as possible in order to make it a comfortable place to live and also to make sure that you are not paying out huge sums of money on your gas and electricity bills by having have your radiators on at high temperatures and by running extra electrical heating devices.
The timber frame building process takes into account insulation from the very beginning. When the frame is constructed, insulating materials fill in the walls which can then be covered internally and externally with brick, plaster or rendering depending on the necessary planning requirements of the surroundings or the home builder’s own personal preference.
The high performance insulation drives down the cost of heating your home and keeps it comfortable even in the coldest of climates.
When you are setting about building your own home, often one of the major motivations is creating a building that perfectly meets your needs and the needs of your family. There are certain structural preferences and idiosyncratic requirements that a self builder feels they simply cannot get from the houses available to them on the market.
Not all construction techniques can provide the flexibility in design necessary to achieve those structural preferences however. Luckily, one of the methods which can allow for a great deal of individuality in the design stage is timber frame construction.
The flexibility allowed by the technique actually comes from the structural properties of a timber frame house. The beams in the frame itself act as weight bearers for the entire building and this means that the interior layout of the house is freed from structural constraints.
Due to this fact, home builders can put their interior walls where they see fit, allowing for grand open plan designs and unique floor plans.
Home builders can work with timber frame specialists to ensure that their home progresses from the planning stage right through to completion without compromising the particulars they have stipulated in the design stage.
Modern timber frame construction uses cutting edge technology in order to make the construction process as quick and as easy as possible for home builders. The name timber frame might make the method sound old-fashioned, and the principals are the same as historical timber construction, however modern methods allow for far greater levels of quality and accuracy.
The technique, in its crudest form, is comprised of constructing a frame from large timber beam, around which the house is put together. This frame takes all of the weight of the house and is able to do so thanks to the strength of the timber used and the joint systems incorporated.
The modern part of the method comes in at the initial stage of construction, with the production of the timber frame itself. This is done under factory conditions with the use of machinery, and the whole process is tailored to meet the exact specifications of the initial plans of the building. Due to this process, any problems are encountered prior to the on-site construction stage and can be dealt with accordingly. As such, the actual building of the house can take place as smoothly and as predictably as possible.
Of all the construction methods available to home builders, one of the most environmentally friendly techniques is that timber frame construction. Essentially timber frame construction involves using large wooden beams as the frame for the building.
The wood used in the construction of timber frame homes is sourced from sustainable or renewable forests. This allays any concerns about contributing to deforestation as the method adheres to strict ethical and ecological regulations.
Producing the materials in order to build the structure also involves a considerably lower carbon footprint than other methods. The timber frame beams are cut using machinery in a factory environment and then transported to site in manner which uses up far less energy than materials such as concrete, steel, aluminium and brick which are used in other techniques of home building.
When the building is finished
Once the structure is completed there are even more environmental benefits as steps are taken beforehand regarding insulation and energy saving. The energy efficiency of timber frames surpasses many of its rival techniques by preserving heat. This means that those living in timber frame homes can lower their carbon footprints and benefit from reduced energy costs as well.
Timber frame construction really is the environmentalist’s building method.
There is an element of idealism which surrounds the popularity of timber frame construction as a method for building homes, hotels and commercial buildings. The idealism is born out of the awareness builders have of the historical importance of timber in construction.
Wood is historically one of the most significant resources available to man and it has been used for centuries in home building. As such timber frame home builders recognise that they are using a method that feels close to those used by our ancestors and the buildings they produce often reflect that.
No other building method quite manages to produce results which exude the kind of character that timber frame construction offers. Exposed framework on the interiors and the exteriors of buildings demonstrates the carpentry and craftsmanship that goes into the house building process.
It is not only the technically idealistic appeal of the timber frame process that attracts home builders to the method. There are also environmental advantages such as the use of sustainable resources in construction and better energy efficiency afterwards, which attract people through the promise of lowering their detrimental impact on the environment and reducing their utility bills once the house is built.
Timber frame construction is a very popular building method amongst house builders, and one of the primary reasons behind this popularity is the flexibility it allows concerning the look and design of a home.
Many people choose to build with timber frames because they want to take advantage of the excellent energy efficiency the method affords, but they do not have to compromise on style in order reap those financial benefits.
If a home builder wants to give their house real character and make it stand out from others, they can do so with timber frames. The method first of all allows a builder to be creative with the structural blueprints of the home, designing it to their own specific model. Then the designer can use the practical construction method as a way of making the house more attractive by choosing between exposing the frame and covering it.
Many builders choose to expose the frame, at least on some of the outer walls, because this gives the house its own appealing and individual style.
On the other hand, those that choose, or are compelled, to make their home fit in with the others in the environs, can do so by covering the frame with brick, stone or rendering.
There are many practical advantages to building a home using the timber frame construction method, such as its low impact on the environment and the ease with which the construction process can be carried out. However, it is often the aesthetic reasons that compel self-builders to choose this method above the others.
The timber frames used to build the house are often left exposed on the interior to give the house character on the inside. The wooden beams invoke the rustic luxury of continental chalets. However, timber frame builders are afforded the flexibility to do what they like with the interior of the home they design. It is perfectly acceptable within the timber frame method to only expose the frame in certain rooms of the house, or on certain ceilings and walls, with the others plastered as in common traditional construction methods.
One area in which exposed timber frame interiors are particularly striking is the loft. If you choose to construct a home wherein the loft makes up part of your living space, rather than a storage area, the exposed beams of the roof can make up a breathtaking feature.
When you are drawing up the plans for your home, consider the effect that exposed framework could have on your interiors.