Timber frame construction is enjoying a major resurgence among building designers throughout Britain. It features in around 50% of homes in Scotland and some 95% of all homes built in North America and Scandinavia.
In all, it accounts for more than 65% of construction in the developed nations of the world – from the warmth of Australia to the cold of North America, Canada and Scandinavia and the unpredictable, wet weather of Scotland.
Timber frame in one form or another has been around for hundreds of years and early examples can be found in most towns and cities. Many structures built with timber frames more than 250 years ago are still standing and in regular use.
Modern timber frame has been around since the last century – and has had a higher success rate than conventional block and mortar construction. The only real difference between the two methods is that the internal leaf of block work is replaced by a timber frame structure.
As the timber frame is externally clad with brickwork or rendered, and the internal finish is plasterboard, the final appearance is no different to its masonry counterpart. The roof, floors, doors, windows, internal finishes and services are the same in both methods of construction – but, because the timber frame is a dry form of construction, it requires no drying-out period.
Builders, developers and designers can turn confidently to this method of construction and its benefits, knowing that it has been the subject of one of the most stringent studies ever carried out on a building method. The BRE (Building Research Establishment) analysis, published in March 1993, concluded that the design and construction principles used in modern timber frame will give excellent long-term performance.
In addition, the NHBC (National House-Building Council), which inspects and insures thousands of timber frame homes every year, states that “our claims records actually show that these houses tend to perform better than masonry homes, as more of the dwelling is made under closely controlled factory conditions”