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Digital Subscriptions > Build It > January 2020 > Structural systems: the options

Structural systems: the options

Choosing your construction method is one of the most important decisions when self building, so getting it right is crucial. Emily Smith takes a look at the main structural systems available, their benefits and some real-life examples

Timber frame


Versatility in terms of design, costs and package options makes timber frame a popular method for self builders.

Key benefits

● There are lots of suppliers out there offering a range of package options specifically tailored for self builders.

● You can be involved in as much or as little of the project as you want – from simply specifying the manufacturer to supply and erect the frame right through to buying a turnkey package where the company looks after everything for you, handing you the keys to your new bespoke home at the end.

● Buying a package upfront means you’ll confirm costs before work starts, offering you more certainty for overall project budgeting.

● The amount of work completed on site is flexible. An open timber frame will have the insulation, services, windows etc installed on site. Alternatively, closed designs have more elements fitted in the factory.

● Off-site manufacture allows groundworks and foundations to progress on site while the structural frame is being cut.

● Once delivered to site, the shell can be put together very quickly.

● Good energy efficiency and airtightness are easily achievable.

Main considerations

● Most turnkey packages don’t include work on site before the timber frame arrives, such as groundworks and foundations.

● Changing things once the shell is in place can be complicated and costly – especially if you’ve got a closed panel system.


Location Cornwall Structural system Timber frame System supplier Potton House size 370m2 Build cost £630,000

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About Build It

The January 2020 issue of Build It is packed full of practical advice, inspiring readers' homes and expert guidance on everything from planning and design through to budgets and specifying materials. The January 2020 Edition includes: - Future-Proof Your Self Build - Are Woodburning Stoves Really Eco Friendly? - Renovation Design Details - Draught Proofing a Period Home - Planning Secrets: Keeping Your Neighbours Happy - Sound Proofing: How to Create a Quiet Home ... and much more!