Growing Market for Timber Frame Houses

The idea of building a timber frame home to some may seem like a new idea – while in reality timber frame is the world’s most popular building method accounting for more than 70% of all new builds. More and more self-builders are recognising the benefits of this building method over block. Timber frame houses are strong, durable and precision engineered, offering significant savings throughout the duration of the build.

Clients benefit from the flexibility of design, speed of construction, energy savings and an overall lower build cost. Our experienced team can provide you with invaluable knowledge and support from initial consultation right through to the design, manufacture and erection of your new timber frame home. Feel free to email your plans to info@timberframeireland.com for a detailed quotation of your new build, renovation or extension.

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The Benefits of Timber Frame Houses

Climate Appropriate

Timber frame houses are becoming more and more popular throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland as self builders are now recognising the popularity of this method in similar climates. Countries with harsh, wet climates such as Canada, Scandinavia and Scotland have notoriously chosen timber frame as their preferred method of construction. One such reason is that the insulation within a timber frame house is contained in the inner leaf  - ensuring that no heat is unnecessarily lost within the block work.

To meet the increasingly stringent energy regulations - self builders choosing block are having to full fill the cavity, externally insulate and take additional laborious steps in order to achieve adequate air tightness levels. In comparison, timber frame is simple to insulate and make airtight, while also offering excellent thermal efficiency and low thermal bridging.

Speed of Construction

The speed of constructing a timber frame house is accelerated by the ability to maximise off site fabrication, while minimising on site activities. As all timber frame components are manufactured off-site prior to delivery, the structural shell can be erected and roofed with speed and efficiency. This allows internal and external trades full access to proceed with their work regardless of the weather conditions.

Typically the timber frame structure including the roof, felt and battens can be erected within one week, depending on the size and complexity of the build. This means that your build can be weather tight in no time - fitted with windows and doors, ready for your finishing trades! For this reason, modern timber frame houses are widely recognised as the answer to the housing crisis, offering a streamlined, speedy solution to housing shortages while at the same time addressing energy efficiency.

Energy Efficiency & Airtightness

Timber frame houses are recognised as the most thermally efficient form of building. They are much easier to insulate than block built homes as the engineered timber framework offers the flexibility for high levels of insulation to be fitted, without compromising the breathable cavity as you would have to do with block. Its also much easier and cheaper to achieve exceptional air tightness levels with timber frame. Due to its low thermal mass, timber frame heats and cools quickly in comparison to block - a factor that is becoming increasingly important in highly insulated homes.

These areas are of particular importance given the BER regulations which require all new builds in the Republic of Ireland to reach a minimum BER rating of A3 or above. A BER rating must also be made visible to prospective buyers or tenants, allowing them to take energy performance into consideration. So along with saving you money, a good BER will be of benefit should you ever decide to sell or rent.

Near Zero Energy Building (nZEB)

Timber frame offers excellent thermal efficiency, low thermal bridging and excellent air tightness which is why it is becoming an increasingly popular choice in order to meet the requirements of Part L. Many self builders are getting in touch with us as they are growing concerned about having to meet the new nZEB (Near Zero Energy) measures.

By 2020, all homes granted planning will be expected to reach an BER of A2 and to comply with the rules of nZEB - replacing the energy requirements set out in 2011's Part L. The era of the passive home is imminent and timber frame is both a fast and cost effective method of overcoming these new regulations. Feel free to contact our team with any questions or for more information on how you can achieve an nZEB compliant build with timber frame.

Significant Build Savings

Timber frame offers cost savings both in terms of energy efficiency and speed. The speed of erecting a timber frame house reduces the volume of capital tied up in the project which in turn reduces the interest charges. Timber frame can reduce the build time by up to 50% as it can be erected regardless of the weather conditions in comparison to block. Following trades such as plumbers and electricians can begin their work as soon as the timber frame structure has been erected.

Timber frame also offers savings of up to 30% over the duration of the build in comparison to block as the labour cost to electricians and plumbers is significantly reduced. These trades can work within the framing and first floor joists - no need to chase and drill blockwork - and if you're installing a heat recovery system, this can all be piped within the framing too! It's also easier to insulate and make a timber frame home airtight. Plastering is also much quicker and therefore cheaper.

Next time you request a quotation from another trade, mention that your house will be timber frame rather than block - you'll find that nearly every trade will apply a reduction for timber frame as it is much easier to work with.

In terms of the total build cost - we work out at around €15-€20 per square foot to include the supply and erection of your timber frame and roof. Approx. €25-€30 per square foot includes the timber frame structure, internal walls, first floor joists (solid or metal webbed joists), roof structure, roof covering (felt, counter battens, tile/slate etc.), breathable membrane, vapour control barrier, 150mm frame fill of Xtratherm PIR foil backed insulation, airtightness membrane and tapes, followed by an additional 50mm Xtratherm PIR insulation, 50 x 35mm battens to form a service cavity and then 12.5mm of plasterboard. This achieves a passive standard u-value of 0.11 with a 100mm external leaf of block which far exceeds the requirements set out in Part L!

Flexibility of Design

Timber frame is one of the most flexible construction methods - which is why it's often preferred by most architects! A timber frame home can offer both a traditional exterior or an exceptionally modern and unique appearance. Once finished, a timber frame house is indistinguishable from a block built home to the untrained eye.

Accuracy of Finishes

An often overlooked benefit of timber frame houses is that the right angles are true and edges are straight which results in a greater ease of painting, wallpapering, tiling, carpet laying and other internal finishes. A timber frame house is engineered and manufactured under strict conditions and controls ensuring precision and accuracy. As a result, skirting and door frames fit snuggly in place.

Precision Engineered

The potential for error on site is virtually eliminated through precision engineered construction in a dry, quality control environment. All timber is C16 graded, stress tested and kiln dried to comply with building standards. What people often don't realise is that timber offers the same strength to weight ratio as steel - the walls are strong, robust and load bearing.

Our 150 x 44mm stud work is far superior in comparison to the 140 x 38mm offered by most other timber frame manufacturers. A thicker frame not only adds strength and durability in terms of load bearance – it also allows for a greater thickness of insulation in the frame which significantly improves your BER. We also have a 225mm frame option if needed but its very unlikely!

Environmentally Sustainable

It is a well established fact that traditional block built homes are responsible for an enormous proportion of energy usage, resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. As timber is a renewable and sustainable material, it helps to accelerate the transition to zero carbon homes. The growing of timber benefits the environment, and its harvesting, production and transport are seen to produce significantly less CO2 than other materials such as concrete and steel.

Timber isn’t just low carbon - it’s carbon negative - requiring around 25 times less energy to produce than steel. Timber captures CO2 rather than giving it off like the cement used in blockwork (a material causing 5% of all global CO2 emissions), and as its lightweight, less energy is required during construction. For the client, less labour power means lower cost! Waste is also drastically reduced through efficiently controlled manufacturing, and the speed of construction makes for less disruption to neighbours.

Reduced Lending & Insurance Risk

A critical factor in the approval of schemes and mortgages is the perceived risk during the construction of your home. This risk is largely related to the amount of time expected to construct your build - the longer the build, the greater the risk and so the less favorable your loan terms will be. In terms of insurance cover, a cleaner and safer site due to off site manufacturing is also considered as reduced risk.

Many also believe that house insurance is more costly with a timber frame build, however this is not the case. All materials are fire safety tested and stamped, and fire resistance is achieved through protective non-combustible materials and by the thickness of the timber frame section. Most timber frame houses are clad with a 100mm leaf of external blockwork. Fire break sleeves are also installed at each intersection to prevent spread and to ensure appropriate safety measures in the event of a fire.

Have a Question About Timber Frame?

If you have any queries about building a timber frame house, feel free to get in touch with our team below or email us directly at info@timberframeireland.com.

Get a Quote!

Simply email your plans to info@timberframeireland.com and one of our team will get back to you shortly with a detailed quotation.

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