Frequently Asked Questions


How Much Does It Cost?

This is definitely the most frequently asked question, and it is often the first, but it is also one of the hardest to answer if the finished total price is required. Whereas the final cost of a house is obviously a function of it’s size, effective management of a build is probably the most important factor in determining cost versus budget. Identical houses can have dramatically different square foot rates depending largely on three key variables: the site conditions, location and the choice of finishes. For example sloping sites are more expensive to build on than level ones, labour rates can vary considerably throughout the country, and a roof fixed with new Cornish Delabole slate may look very nice but it will cost at least seven times more than if concrete tiles were used. Some clients spend £3M on the pool house alone, others get a great house for less than £200,000. 
That said, what we can indicate is that our typical client spends between £1200 and 2000 per sq m on their finished homes.

To put this in to perspective, social or ‘affordable’ housing, whatever you may read, costs well over £1000 per sq m.

A skilled self-builder, able to do a lot of the work themselves, may occasionally build at less than £1000 per sq m.

A high spec house, such as the venerable ‘Huf’ type, can cost over £3000 per sq m.

Our TotalBuild Package builds a similar spec house at £1850 per sq m.

A typical Avalon™ Über SIPS package, where a lot of the work in building a house is done by us in the factory, with many large triple glazed wood windows (attractive, modern designs tend to use acres of glass), and high spec wood doors internal and external, fully erected to weather proof stage, typically comes in around £600 per sq m.

If you wish to have the Avalon™ Über SIPS package quality at as low a price as possible, then an open panel version with less windows and lower spec joinery can cost less than £500 per sq m.

Avalon™ Hempcrete and StrawBale SIPS packages similar in price to the Avalon™ Über SIPS package.

Money can be saved by all sorts of design decisions. For instance, a minimal skim layer of plaster on the panels, or making good the surface and painting direct. Similarly, a simple lime render coat straight onto the internal and external panel faces of Avalon™ Hempcrete and StrawBale SIPS packages saves the cost of plaster/plasterboards internally and cladding externally.

It’s part of the enjoyment of self-build that you can juggle all these criteria to suit your taste and pocket.

What is sure – money spent on well designed systems that shift the time and cost of building into the factory environment and away from an ad hoc approach on-site, nearly always save money in the final build price, even if it looks as if there will be savings due to a cheaper timber frame. You find these spectral savings can evpourate on-site at an alarming rate.

How Long is Your Erection?

Again the size and complexity of the design will have a bearing, but if we take a fairly typical house of about 230 sq m, the following timetable of events takes place:

Planning permission having been gained (we can do this too, if humanly possible), the design goes to our structural engineer. When we have received his calculations, the design is broken up into its different parts in a computer aided design package (CAD). These drawings are then used by our staff to fabricate the frame. The engineering, drawing and manufacturing processes take about six weeks. It is during this period that the ground works can be undertaken.

Once our frame arrives on site, a gang of two to four will erect the entire frame structure and make it weather tight i.e. fix external joinery and felt and batten the roof, in two to three weeks.

Windows, doors, ventilation and heat recovery systems are usually fitted at a later date to avoid damage. This typically takes two to three people one week. Windows can have a 10 week lead time, so need to be specified early on.


Can You Supply And Erect My Timber Frame Despite Being Hundreds Of Miles From Devon?

Yes! We sucessfully build homes throughout the U.K, in Southern Ireland, in the Channel Islands and on the Continent. Our Sterling House was built in Scotland (Balfron, actually, not Sterling). We have built several in the Channel Islands and a some in France.


What cladding (exterior finish) can you use?Gallery link

The simple answer is anything: the external appearance will reflect your preference, and will be in harmony with the plot and the design of the building. Avalon™ SIPS packages can be used to build Tudor, Georgian, or modern style buildings at a higher specification than convention build methodologies. Have a look at our gallery.


How Environmentally Friendly Are Your Buildings?

For some of our clients, the desire to live in a low carbon or zero carbon house is one of the prime motivations behind choosing our products and services. With Avalon™ SIPS packages, very high insulation levels (both thermal and acoustic) can be easily achieved and at a cost that competitive with other means of construction.

We can adjust our SIPS insulation to create homes that need no heating apart from body heat or waste heat from a few PCs.

We also design, supply and fit renewable energy systems.

When using timber frame the house builder is making use of a renewable resource. The timber Advanced Housing Systems uses in the manufacture of its’ timber frames comes from managed forests, usually from Scandinavia, where up to five times more trees are planted than are cut down. Also, compared with other building materials such as steel or concrete, timber uses less energy in its production. So not only is less energy needed in the finished home, but less energy [and pollution] is created in the build process.

We are increasingly being asked to provide extra environmentally friendly elements within our buildings. Using shredded newspaper or sheep’s wool as insulation materials can easily be incorporated within our timber frames, while we can also make use of non-toxic preservatives on the timber. Unfortunately, these elements tend to cost more than more common materials.


Which Company Supplies Your External Joinery?

Swedish triple glazing is included within the Advanced Housing Systems standard quotation, supplied companies such as West Coast, Tanums Fonster and Dooria. We have used their windows and doors for a number of years because we have found the quality and reliability to be excellent. The joinery comes fully factory finished in a choice of paints or stains, with aluminium cladding or frame as an additional option.


Where Can We View Some Of Your Homes?

London Show HomeWe have several ‘show’ homes – London, Guernsey and South West England – which are ‘real’ homes recently completed or still under construction, where the owners’ would be delighted to show around their homes. In this way you get to talk to our clients and can ask them the questions you really want to ask! We would be delighted to arrange such a visit, so just give us a ring.



When Do We Pay For The Timber Frame Package?

We always try to be flexible, so that if the client has a mortgage lender who will only release monies at certain stages, we tie in our invoices to the lender’s schedule.

There will typically be a payment schedule that breaks into a number of smaller payments against specific events – this is a good thing as it means the exposure to either party is minimised: an initial deposit to book production; on finishing the engineered, structural drawings; on commencement of manufacture; when the SIPS frame is completed and delivered to site; erection of frame; windows order, delivery & erection; order and delivery of loose materials.

For our ManagedBuild and TotalBuild packages, the principle of regular, small payments is the same.


Can You Provide A Quote Based On Our Own Architect’s Drawings?

Yes, although we have our own architects, we would be delighted to provide you with a quote based on your own design. Currently about 50% of the projects we are involved with are from designs other than our own.


How Long Will The Building Last?

As we use rather clever technology in our Über SIPS, so we guarantee the frame for 50 years.

In general, Avalon™ SIPS packages will last as long as the best houses built in Elizabethan times that are still standing. The existence of thousands of timber buildings dating from the Middle Ages is testament to the durability of timber as a means of structural support.

Apparently, there’s still a bit of ‘Wood Henge’ in the ground today!

For Avalon™ Hempcrete and StrawBale SIPS packages, we guarantee these for 25 years, but once we get more familiar with the technology, we expect to provide the same 50 year warranty as for the Über SIPS.


How Easy Is It To Project Manage The Build?

Avalon™ SIPS packages  have been specifically designed with the client who wishes to manage the project themselves in mind. Being a closed panel there is considerably less work that needs to be organized and carried out on site. We also offer our clients a very inclusive timber frame package. We are able to supply all the materials that will be needed to complete your home, delivered to the site as and when they are required. Again this means that there is less for the client to organize.

We are always there to offer advice and to answer any questions, so the client never feels that they have been left to sort things out for themselves. The relationships we develop with our clients mean that we are there to help until the home has been finished. This is not the case with every supplier in the construction industry.


 Advanced Housing Systems

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