Build Systems & Design
You can build homes from pretty much any material these days, but that’s for a whole different website - we will attempt to cover the main types that package companies provide. We will also briefly cover the major areas for design and build consideration.
1 Timber Frame: Open Panel or Stick Built Stick Built houses were traditionally built on site, with saws and lumber. This Open Panel style is all about getting the basic structure erected so that insulation, plasterboard and services can be incorporated on site. This style of building pre-dated the Tudors who used a combination of timber posts and beams.
2 Timber Frame: Closed Panel This is a more European model of achieving a similar process, but the panels are obviously pre-boarded and in most cases, insulated.
3 Timber Frame: Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPS) These have insulation sandwiched between two boards of Oriented Strand Board (OSB). This is one of the fastest growing build methods because SIPS can be cut to size off-site, have high specification insulation properties and cut build times.
4 Timber Frame: Cross-Laminated Solid Timber Panels These are solid panels that have the insulation wrapped around the outside.
5 Timber Frame: Hybrid Systems These include the pre-injected insulation as seen with SIPS, but within a more conventional timber frame-work.
6 Timber Frame: Oak Frame This would cross-reference with many of the above build styles, depending largely on what the Oak Frame specialists provide as insulation, but it is effectively an off-site built frame that will be erected for everything else to be completed afterwards.
7 Brick & Block: Rendered Block-work Double block-work, with insulation between, and an external render.
8 Brick & Block: Brick Finish Similar to the above, but instead of a render finish over the second layer of block-work, you have brick. This certainly represents the most visually familiar of UK build systems.
9 There are variations on this theme - Dense concrete for block-work, thin joint block-work and a myriad of other variables. It is well worth considering every option and researching it for its most important quality – Finished Wall U-Value, which is what will provide the thermal values of the property. To explain further; the U-Value denotes the transmittance of a material or combination of materials. The value of U relates to the watts per square metre, per degree of temperature difference. As the value of U increase so does the amount of heat that will escape through the material. Build companies often make a major deal about this when describing their systems, but if aiming for below legislative requirements, windows should be provided equal importance. You could have superbly insulated walls, but if your house has massive apertures filled with poorly performing windows it makes it all a bit pointless.
1 Single Storey More traditionally described as bungalows in the UK. When considering the type of property you will build your first consideration should relate to other houses in the road / area. If every house is single storey, you are highly unlikely to be allowed to build a tower block in that nice infill plot.
2 One and a Half Storey This is often considered a single storey dwelling that includes the loft area as living space with the inclusion of either Velux or dormer windows. However, it actually relates to ridge heights, which is something to discuss with your architect. The reason for this is there may be a level of very useful ambiguity which will allow you to build what at first appears to be a two storey house. It effectively means the walls on the second storey will meet the roof line around two thirds of the way down, so have a look around at the houses with dormers in the roof. They can look like two storey houses but on closer inspection you will see that they are not.
3 Two Storey The most important thing to consider when looking at a build project relating to house sizes is that twice the floor space will not cost twice as much to build. You only need one roof and you only have to lay foundations for a two storey house the same amount of times as for a bungalow. The extra floor will therefore reduce the cost per square metre. Indeed, the additional floor space often utilised by a bungalow’s footprint can make it just as expensive to build at a two storey property.
1 Strip Foundations Strips, or trenches, are brick or block built upon a bed of concrete.
2 Trench Foundations Not to be confused with Strips, these are also trenches. But Trench filled means they are completely filled with concrete, and often deeper.
3 Raft Foundations When you read builders refer to a slab, this is effectively what is meant. A reinforced slab that covers the base area of the building.
4 Piled Foundations Often used on sloping sites; piles or bore-holes are drilled down and filled with concrete to provide support. The piles are not too dissimilar to below ground stilts in many respects.
1 Ground Supported Concrete Hardcore is compacted and the concrete slab is poured on top.
2 Concrete Beam and Block After the ground is levelled pre-cast concrete beams are laid with a space between for block to be laid. Insulation separates this base from the finished floor.
3 Suspended Timber Some of the UK’s older properties do not have a slab of any kind, or even a damp proof membrane, and just have timber joists suspended over bare ground. Suspended timber frames will now mostly be laid over a concrete oversight and membrane in order to deal with awkward ground sites.
1 Architectural Rooflines There are six basic shapes for roofs: i) Gambrel, ii) Gable, iii) Mansard, iv) Hipped, v) Flat, vi) Shed
2 Roof Types There are several different designs for the supporting structure of a roof, but the main types are: i) Trussed Rafters, ii) Traditionally Framed, iii) SIPS