Q: I’m planning to build a new house and would like to err on the side of eco-friendly so I’ve chosen a timber frame. What should I consider?
A: Congratulations on making the decision to build your own home. Your choice of a timber-framed system is a very enlightened one; I’m a big fan of this method because much of the initial work can be carried out off-site and in a controlled setting. This means that you can erect the main structure very quickly, and the roof can be installed early on to allow you to work in a protected environment for the remainder of the project. This is much quicker and easier than the traditional way of building, which is to construct all the masonry and load-bearing walls before you can add your roof. If all your timber is FSC certified then you are building from a renewable source, which adds to the eco credentials of your project.
There are two major aspects of timberframe building that you’ll need to consider. One is that your methods of construction can be fully warrantied once your house is complete. The second is that you will need adequate insurance throughout the building phase. There have been a number of incidents in which fires – sometimes caused intentionally by arsonists – on timber-frame construction sites have caused an enormous amount of damage and some projects have been wiped out. This has raised alarm bells with insurance companies, so your provider could potentially see a timber-frame build as a greater risk. Once the buildings are finished and fire-protected this is less of a problem, but during the construction phase the structure will obviously be exposed to fire risks, so you must make sure you are fully covered.