Is Timber Frame Really the Way Forward?

Thinking of building a new house in Ireland? The advantages of building a timber frame house over the more standard traditional block method are endless. Block may be trying to play catch up in terms of energy efficiency and airtightness, but the speed and precision of design will never be the same.

50% of Irish Homes are Timber Frame

Timber frame now represents approx. 50% of all newly built homes in Ireland; a massive increase year-on-year.

This drastic increase in popularity in favour of timber frame stems from ongoing demand for speed and energy efficiency.

Part L & nZEB requirements can easily be met with a closed panel timber frame.

It’s no coincidence that most (if not all) passive homes are timber frame construction.

But Block is Traditional..

There has been a sentimental attachment to twin wall cavity construction here in Ireland, preventing a shift towards timber frame.

Home owners are now recognising the many benefits; specifically their architects and engineers.

The speed of construction is unmatched.

Structural supporting walls, factory fitted with the insulation, airtightness and service battens, are craned into position followed by the roof trusses.

Windows and doors can be fitted immediately – avoiding lengthy lead times. External finishes can be started and internal first fix of carpentry, plumbing and electrics can get well underway before furnishings.

Speed & Efficiency

Less plaster and cement means less wet trade work and no drying out time – reducing time on site.

Time is money.

In terms of being eco-friendly – timber frame wins hands down.

Wood is sourced from sustainable forests in Ireland, Canada and Scandinavian; with much less embodied energy than concrete, a lighter carbon footprint and prefabricated design, reducing waste on site.

What About Lifespan?

A timber frame house designed and built to building regulations, is as durable as a masonry home.

Contrary to opinion, timber frame is actually better suited to Ireland’s harsh, wet climates.

It’s no coincidence that timber frame is the popular method of construction in similar climates such as Scotland.

Given the Mica and Pyrite scandals experienced in Donegal, Mayo and surrounding counties; timber frame is now drawing a higher re-sale value on the Irish housing market.

Both build methods offer a 60 year design life. The only concern with timber is rot; however rot requires damp.

A modern timber frame home will have a damp proof membrane correctly installed, treated for rot and insect infestation.

The build will be quality control and moisture tested, and shielded from the weather on installation; making this a non-concern.

Timber frame goes through the same rigorous Building Control testing as any other method, and passes with flying colours.

Cold Bridging is Eliminated

With a block home – there tends to be complaints surrounding damp due to inadequate ventilation.

The main issue is in retaining heat and energy.

Elimination of cold-bridging is extremely difficult to get right with a standard masonry build – relying heavily on skilled site trades.

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