Traditional House Construction and Modular Alternatives
The house construction industry has been facing criticism for some years as a factor involved in the apparently never ending upward price spiral of the cost of homes today.
The projected number of houses needed to home a growing population is put at a minimum of 250,000 per year, and the industry has been struggling to construct around the 130,000 to 140,000 mark.
This is not the main reason behind the sky-high housing prices, foreign investment, differing Government policies, a credit system awash with money, are simply a few in the complex picture of the boom, however, more new build is definitely needed, and some methods which move away from tradition are finding popularity with builders and buyers alike.
Modular building is gaining ground as a modern method of construction, and of those types and material bases, timber frame is currently a clear leader.
There are some obvious reasons for its popularity with the most visible to the observer is the time it takes achieve completed construction, in comparison with the traditional block and brick method.
Timber frame construction is not constrained by the weather conditions, which allows for more accurate planning, avoiding most of the hazards that nature can bring.
A four bedroom detached house can, upon arrival of the timber frames, be erected in more or less seven days to watertight, allowing the trades, plumbers, electricians etc. to begin work in an environment protected from the elements, all adding to the speed of the build.
The block and brick build cannot be erected in any comparable time scale, and even when finished to weather-proofing, must wait for mortar and plaster to dry, which depending on the time of year can take up to at least six weeks.
The internal plastering within the timber frame construction is normally carried out with dry lining, allowing second fixing almost immediately.
A major factor not immediately apparent to the observer is that building regulations are continuously upgraded to demand the use of more sustainable materials, and the use of timber is highly favourable.
The timber in the UK is mostly sourced from managed plantations assuring continuous husbandry and replacement tree planting, with its environmental benefits.
Because the timber frames are constructed in factories with strict environmental conditions, to computer calculated planning, the thermal performance of the house can be accurately planned, unlike the vagaries of bricks and mortar, and the timber, from source to manufactured product, is a virtually waste free commodity.