What is a timber frame?

Let’s get this one out the way first. For a few thousand years, most houses in the UK were built out of wood, and many are still standing and very beautiful.

Then, last century, they invented a kind of concrete block and thought it would be a good idea to use it to hold up the first floor and roof, with an external cladding layer of render or brick. But, by 2007, the largest number of new houses made (around 16,000) were by ‘self-builders’, a poorly defined term covering anything from the splendidly Germanic ‘don’t get your fingers dirty’ glass and concrete approach from Huf Haus, all the way through to the guys and girls who don’t mind doing bits of building themselves and managing tradesmen who do the rest. Most of these houses have been some variant of timber frame construction.

We won’t argue the detailed case for timber frame here as the argument has be won by you, the market: the published statistics demonstrate that over 90% of Scandinavian houses are timber frame (there is plenty of stone up there) and 22% of all new builds in the UK in 2007, a figure increasing in 2008 when other methods of construction fell. Simply put, timber frame gives a higher quality at a lower overall cost.

Now, once the house is finished, it can be clad in brick and plastered internally and the ‘timber frame’ is invisible. Timber frame can be ‘post and beam’, ‘structural insulated panel systems’ (SIPS), ‘hempcrete’, ‘open frame’ and lots of other variants – all of which we can do, by the way. But it doesn’t have to look Tudor or like a log cabin.

If you knew all this, we apologize, but the author didn’t when she built her first ‘self-build’.











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