10 Pros and Cons of Self Build Timber Frame Houses

One of the biggest steps you have to take when building your own home is deciding on your chosen construction method. We understand that taking on a self build is a big undertaking, and trawling through all the information there is online can be a challenge.

In this series, we aim to highlight the core pros and cons of different self build construction methods to help you towards making a balanced decision on the best one for you.

There are a variety of construction methods that self builders opt for when building their home:

In this blog, we are going to focus on Timber Frame Construction.

What are Timber Frames in Self Building?

In self building, timber framing refers to a traditional building method that involves using timbers to create a structural framework or skeleton for a building. The timber framework is created by joining large, sturdy timbers together with traditional joinery. This is raised on-site, with the remaining parts of the building constructed around it, such as walls, roof and flooring, all of which can generally be prefabricated off-site.

They are an increasingly popular choice amongst self builders given their cost-effectiveness, sustainability and flexibility.

When deciding on timber framing as your chosen self build method, it is important to have an understanding of the pros and cons of this extremely popular option. We have laid out some of the positives and negatives to help you work out whether it sounds right for your project.

self build timber frame

Pros of Timber Frame for Self Build Houses

1. Quick & Efficient Installation

In general, timber frame self builds are quick and efficient to install when compared to their masonry counterparts. One significant point to note is that timber frame construction is not weather dependent, and can be carried out in all conditions, such as rain and snow. This means that builds can be completed quicker and there is no “drying out” period.

Where many parts are fabricated off-site, this also means less time is needed on-site, which can bring your overall on-site cost down. The parts are made-to-measure and are only delivered once it’s ready to be assembled.

Once the pieces are delivered, erecting the building can take a few days and can be wind and watertight in only a few weeks, allowing you more time to focus on internal finishes and enjoy more time savings when compared to masonry. This makes it a great option for time-conscious self builders or those looking to bring down the complexity of project management on site.

2. Timber Frame Self Build Cost Effectiveness

As with all things, the cost of a timber frame self build house can be varied depending on several factors, such as the location, materials, design elements and more. However, with this still in mind, self builders can find timber frames to be more cost-effective than other traditional methods.

According to the UK National Customer and Self Build Association, the average self build costs in the UK is around £255,000 in total, with all elements taken into account. However, self-built timber frame homes can be as low as £100,000 – £150,000 for small and simple builds.

Some other estimates from around the web include:

Fleming Homes also has their own cost calculator to help you work out self build costs for timber frames.

If you are budget conscious when it comes to self building, timber frames could be a great option for you.

Why is Timber Frame Cost Effective?

The material cost and construction time are the core reasons why timber frames can be more cost effective. Timber is generally less expensive than other materials and the quick installation allows for less labour cost on site.

builder for self build projects

3. Eco Friendly Self Builds

One of the more obvious benefits of timber frame self build homes is their eco friendly nature. Timber is a sustainable and ecological building material that can be renewed and regrown. Many parts of the timber industry successfully plant more trees than they consume, according to Lowfield, allowing for forestry growth.

Furthermore, the energy consumed to produce timber components is significantly less than alternatives such as steel, concrete or plastic. According to Fothering Homes, for every m3 of wood used instead of other building materials, 0.8 tonnes of CO2 is saved.

Further to this, timber has a lower carbon footprint than other materials, as trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Therefore, using this material in self build construction is great for moving towards climate change. If you are an eco-conscious self builder, timber frames may be a great option for you.

4. Character & Customisation

Timber frame homes can be especially characterful when compared to some other modern methods of construction. When you design your house, you will have the option to incorporate exposed timber beams as part of the design which can give your home a warm and rustic feel. The natural wood texture can also give your space depth and interest to both the inside and outside of your space.

This construction method also allows for a high degree of customisation, meaning that it can be tailored to your own tastes and design ideas. Having worked with many self builders on numerous projects, we find that homeowners like to choose to highlight some of the natural beauty of timber, while others prefer adding other elements like stonework and glass.

If you are looking to create a characterful and flexible self build home, timber frames could be an excellent choice. Working with a self build architect is a great way to unlock your self build’s full design potential.

construction materials for self building own home

5. Energy Efficient

Timber frame self builds can be very energy efficient, adding to their already-impressive environmental benefits. There are several factors that contribute to this.

Timber frame construction allows for high quality insulating materials which are used in their construction, offering great thermal efficiency. Further to this, the airtightness of their build means a reduced chance of drafts or air leakage, making them even more insulated.

The thermal mass of the timber also allows the home to heat up and cool down quicker in comparison to other methods, meaning that they use less energy overall. If you are looking for comfort and energy efficiency, a self build timber frame house could be an ideal choice.

Cons of Timber Frame for Self Build Homes

6. Level of Maintenance

Timber frame homes can often require a bit more attention and upkeep in comparison to other methods. Wood is a natural, organic material and therefore can be prone to problems that other human-manufactured materials are not.

One example of this is that timber can be more susceptible to moisture or rot. In modern construction, this is easy to mitigate as part of the build process, but it is still something that must be considered and should the building not be properly maintained or built.

Moisture seeping in could have detrimental effects and is expensive to repair, so maintaining the timber and ensuring it is not exposed to moisture over time is an important consideration for self builders, particularly in humid or damp climates.

timber frame self build construction

7. Acoustic Insulation

Timber frame construction can allow for more noise transmission when compared to other methods. Sound travels more easily through the timber walls in comparison to brick and block due to the density of bricks as a building material.

Sound transmission can be reduced through the use of sound insulating materials as part of the construction, as well as careful design detailing. However, this will add additional cost to your self build and is another consideration. If you are looking to self build someone with lots of exterior noise, this may be an important consideration.

8. Lightweight “Feel”

Some self builders who have opted for timber frames have commented on the fact that the building doesn’t feel quite as sturdy or solid like traditional construction. This is because timber is a lighter material, which can give a different feel. This is something you might notice when hanging up pictures on the wall, for example.

This does not mean that the building itself is less structurally sound, but is moreso a design preference for self builders that want a more solid or dense feel to their space. If you are more keen on a design that feels more naturally solid, a more traditional method may be better suited.

how much self build contractors cost

9. Fire Safety Considerations

This section should be introduced with the point that timber frame construction is incredibly safe and meets all building codes and regulations in regards to safety, but naturally, timber is more susceptible to fire than comparable building materials.

Of course, all building materials can fail if subject to high temperatures, but it would be fair to say that timber frame self builds would be a higher risk.

10. Raw Material Costs

Though we have highlighted in this article that overall timber frame can be a more cost effective option, the raw cost of the timber frame for a self build can be much higher than the raw cost of bricks, for example. This can be even more obvious if you purchase a pre-designed timber kit.

Of course, there are many factors that influence the cost. However, it may be something you need to consider from a cash flow and forward planning perspective, to ensure you have funds readily available at the early stage of your project.

Building Self Build Homes with Timber Frames in the UK

Timber frame self builds are ever popular in the UK and over the years, many people have moved away from traditional construction methods due to their performance, design flexibility and cost effectiveness. While timber frames will be a great option for some self builders, they are not always going to be perfect for others.

We always recommend carrying out research on all construction methods . We have pulled together pros and cons on all construction methods so that you can evaluate the pros and cons of those too.

Contact Us for Timber Frame Self Build Design Advice

If you are interested in a timber frame self build, reach out to us on 023 8244 3801 or head over to our contact page.

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