House Building Methods

House Building In Masonry Or Timber Is The Question

Most people in Britain regard bricks and mortar as the traditional house building method, hardly surprising since it has been the most widely employed for the last three hundred or so years, and the vast majority of houses are finished with an external skin of brickwork, regardless of their basic structure.

Timber frame construction has been growing in popularity for some years, in Scotland it is the most popular method of build, and as a construction method, some 70% of people in the developed world live in timber frame housing.

Brick and block construction are in the blood of many of the country’s builders, but both systems have a place in modern house building.

The foundation and excavation of both masonry and timber frame houses are carried out the same, and for the timber frame house footings are normally brought up above ground to damp course level using masonry materials. Because the timber has a lighter structural frame it is usually feasible to have a lower foundation specification.

The time spent in actual construction differs hugely. The timber frame is delivered to site in prefabricated sections and a four bedroom house can be up, roofed, and weather sealed within a week, and to achieve this with bricks and mortar takes several weeks, given reasonable weather.

The time differential becomes far less marked however, when taking into account the time it takes from design, to actually constructing the timber frames.

These are manufactured under factory controlled conditions, and design to fished production frames for delivery can take from two to three months.

The expense of the prefabricated timber frame house, which can be erected so quickly on site, can be set against the added labour costs than traditional brick and block construction incur over their construction time.

The time advantage with timber frame continues, as having made the build weatherproof within a week or so, the follow-on trades such as electricians and plumbers can begin work right away.

The masonry build, even when finished, will have a period of several weeks to allow mortar and plaster to go off before these can start.

Apart from the effect on drying out times, the weather can bring restrictions on how quickly a standard blockwork wall can be built. If the temperature falls below 2 degrees centigrade, blocks cannot be laid, whereas timber frame has little that weather can get in the way of.

The only financial difference, which may be a disadvantage is that most of the timber frame construction has to be paid for by the time it arrives on site, and the masonry build only paid for on completion.