Design, Planning and Timber Frame

Posted on January 17, 2011 by Builder Bob There have been 0 comments

Will My Local Planning Authority Accept A Timber Frame House?

While your Local Planning Authority, Parks, or Conservation Area officer will wish to consider appearance and siting, the structural form of your building is not their concern. Indeed, a timber frame structure can take on whatever appearance you - or they – wish.  Such a building is generally indistinguishable from any other form in outward appearance.

However, this is where the similarity ends.

Modern Building Physics

At its most basic, a structural timber frame merely replaces the breeze or other masonry block-work inner skin of an external cavity wall with a structural timber frame panel.

As an advanced part of building science it provides a more structurally stable set of integrated individually engineered building elements that can deliver less loss of costly heated indoor air, better insulation, higher energy efficiency, less settlement, better sound insulation, and reduced foundation loads, ... to name but a few of the benefits to the user.

People who live in timber frame homes often rate them as more comfortable, warmer, less draughty, needing less maintenance, and so on.

Quieter Homes

Sterling University statistics show timber frame apartments and row houses to have less sound transmission than masonry construction and Housing Associations are showing growing preference for this form of construction.

Easier to meet Building Regulations

As Building Regulations become ever more stringent, timber frame is growing in popularity.  It is rapidly becoming the preferred method of construction for many types of building, not just residential.

Getting a Quick Building Estimate

While most timber frame manufacturers will give you a building price estimate for producing a timber frame to their specification for your house design, the leading companies can be much more flexible and helpful. One such firm now provides all its enquirers with a range of different wall make up types and specifications.

Your Choice

This means you can now get to choose what type of wall make-up best suits your particular site, energy performance and other ‘green building’ requirements. All you have to do is provide reasonably detailed, dimensioned plans and elevations to enable them to give you a pretty firm price.

Working to Your Building Budget

You’ll find that any firm that is really ‘clued-in’ will also be able to give you fairly accurate ideas of prices for things like roofing, windows and doors, flooring, external claddings, and so on.  Some may also be able to give you a broad idea of the total turnkey building costs.  This can be a real help to you when trying to work out your budget to see what (if any) building project is within your means.

Design, Planning & Building Regulations Submissions

While most timber frame companies have their own structural designers and structural engineers ‘in-house’, only a few offer architectural design, planning and building regulation service facilities. It can be worth while seeking these out, since not only can they keep prices down by linking in with the structural design and engineering to make this easier and more cost effective, but they can also give you good pointers on how best to apply advanced timber engineering, including engineered timber products and timber building components for your project.

Project Management

Besides the professional services referred to above, a very few timber frame firms may be able to offer you partial or full Project Management services. Using such a service effectively means you can really become the ‘developer / contractor’, engaging highly qualified, professional construction managers to select and manage individual sub contract building trades, keeping to tight budgets, and making sure you keep on the right side of increasingly onerous Health & Safety legislation, etc.  Once you’ve agreed budgets and sub-contracts with them, all you have to worry about is writing the cheques to keep the work progressing.

Depending on the size of the project and the extent of your instructions, your Project Manager’s fee is likely to be between 9% & 12% of the contract value.  But this will usually mean you can save most, if not all, of the main building contractors profit and get a job that is much more under your control.

Chartered Builders and Chartered Building Consultants

Building firms and Professional practices can only gain this accreditation if they are run by, and employ professionally qualified members of the Chartered Institute of Building in their direction and senior management. Whether or not you look for a timber frame company to do most, or any, of the above works and services, it is a good idea to seek out project managers who hold this accreditation.

Good Luck with your building project

Remember, each and every building project is uniquely different.  It may be similar in many ways, but it will have an inherent shape and issues of its own.  I hope the above information will be of real use and value to you, and that your project runs as quickly and smoothly as you would like.


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