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Your ideal choice of construction method will depend on a huge amount of variables. From costs and build speeds to how each system might match up to the performance goals you’ve set, Emily Smith investigates the pros and cons of the main options


Key advantages:

Groundworks can begin while the frame is manufactured

Easy to make airtight and well-insulated

Choice of open- or closedpanel frames

Fast build time and less labour needed on site compared to masonry

According to the Structural Timber Association, over 75% of self builders use this system as their primary build method. There’s a great deal of choice out there, both in terms of how you want the house to look and how much of the structure you want the supplier to manufacture for you.

Timber frame dwellings are built using panelised systems, formed of a network of structural studs wrapped with sheets of plywood or oriented strandboard (OSB) to create whole wall sections. They are created in factories by specialist suppliers and a range of package options is available. You can work alongside an architect of your choice, opt for a firm’s in-house designer or choose from a company’s catalogue of pre-set, tweakable designs.

Some firms simply offer a structural design and erection package, but others can provide follow-on services – or even a turnkey route where they complete the whole project on your behalf. “When choosing a supplier, ask questions about the performance of the structure, its overall robustness and its anticipated energy efficiency,” says Oliver Grimshaw from Hanse Haus. “Visit one of the company’s completed houses and look at the quality of the details – you don’t want to cut corners.”

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About Build It

The May edition of Build It magazine brings you all the inspiration & practical advice you need to complete your home building project on time and on budget, including: • A stunning light-filled contemporary bungalow transformation (page 20) • Discover the right build system for your project (page 60) • Choose a modern front door (page 71) • A complete guide to loft conversions (page 80) • Top tips for your lighting design (page 90) • Common plot issues and how to overcome them (page 97) • Dealing with damp (page 103) … and more!