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Timber frame vmasonry

Rebecca Foster gives the lowdown on these two structural systems to help you decide which option is the best fit for your project
The owners of this timber frame house adapted the Wickhambrook Barn design by Potton to suit their requirements. The dwelling has a barn-style exterior with spacious, contemporary interiors

Specifying the construction system for your selfbuild is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make throughout the entire project. “The structural part of a house does so much more than simply hold it up,” says Paul Newman, self-build director at Potton. “It’s the framework upon which every other element is built, so choosing the right option is vital.” While there’s a growing number of modern development methods available to selfbuilders, the vast majority still opt to use one of two triedand- tested choices: timber frame or masonry. Each comes with its own unique advantages and challenges. But which will allow you to best achieve your project goals?


This route remains a firm favourite with UK self-builders, many of whom like the long-lasting, robust feeling of solidity masonry offers. Cavity walling is the standard choice, where an inner skin of blocks and an outer layer of bricks sandwiches a gap filled with insulation to match your requirements in terms of energy performance. The walls are built up in courses, with the masonry units laid in cement mortar, so this is very much a site-based process.

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About Build It

Get your self-build or renovation project started with advice & inspiration from Build It magazine. Here's what to expect in the January issue: • How the Rogers built an Arts & Crafts-style modern home • The latest on smart home technology • Are woodburning stoves eco friendly? • Heating options for renovations • Avoiding grand designs disasters • Plot Watch: Did they get planning consent? ...and much more!