Is A Timber Frame House Cheaper To Build?

Compared to masonry or brick and block construction, is a timber frame house cheaper to build? For anyone planning a self-build the cost of the build and financing, it will be their main concern. Obviously, the cost of insuring the property and getting a good return when the time comes to sell is also important. With a competent plan, a timber frame house can be extremely cost-effective compared to brick. The main factors affecting wood vs brick house cost are speed and ease of construction.

Timber frames are usually produced off-site by the manufacturer and delivered in pre-assembled sections. This kit can then be assembled on the foundations in a very short space of time. As masonry has to be assembled brick by brick it is a far more time-consuming process. In contrast, a timber frame can be completely assembled in a matter of days. Once assembled, the frame can be wrapped in a plastic membrane, making the structure weatherproof in less than a week. Internal work can then commence and the main frame can be erected in any weather. Due to the rainy British climate, this can be a huge advantage.

Wood Vs Brick House Cost

In terms of materials used, the cost of timber is lower, but not by much. Also, whether timber or brick is used the rest of the build costs will be the same. Foundations, plumbing, sewers, access roads and the like will cost just as much regardless of the frame. The main saving with timber frames is in the construction itself. The simple kit-building methods involved mean less specialised staff will need to be employed. Any staff employed will complete the work in a far shorter time, saving on labour costs. The National House Building Council estimates using timber frames saves up to three months in construction time. This is worth noting as NHBC warranties cover 80% of British new builds.

The material used for cladding on the frame can also keep costs down. Timber cladding over the frame will be significantly cheaper than a brick envelope enclosing it. This also takes less time to install than brick. As the structure is quickly weatherproofed, electrical systems can be installed earlier than in brick buildings.

Are Timber Framed Houses A Good Investment?

In the past, timber frame houses could be difficult to sell, especially in the case of new builds. Older buildings had the advantage of traditional looks and their age was a guarantee of longevity. Buyers were suspicious that timber frames would not last and mortgages were difficult to secure. Modern timber frames are far sturdier due to improved manufacturing standards, with a longer lifespan. Oak frames are exceptionally strong compared to other timbers and far more fire-resistant. As manufacturing processes have improved, building regulations have also become more stringent. As a result, modern timber-framed new builds are equally as long-lasting as brick and block structures.

While some buyers prefer the look of brick, many timber frames are enclosed within layers of brick, making them just as desirable. The sustainability of timber and wood in construction is also a favourable selling point. Oak is a carbon-neutral construction material, as the trees absorb carbon dioxide and trap the carbon. As a natural resource, no carbon is produced by manufacturing and oak does not require environmentally harmful chemical preservatives. This makes timber frame houses an ethically sound choice and more attractive to buyers. Timber frame homes can be significantly cheaper to heat as the wood will not absorb heat from the air like brick. Rooms will warm quickly and stay warm for longer, reducing running costs.

Can I Get A Mortgage On A Timber Framed House?

In the past, timber-framed houses were classed as ‘non-standard’ by lenders and securing a mortgage could be very difficult. Due to the widespread use of timber frames by the construction industry lenders are far less likely to make this distinction. For a new build that is less than ten years old, NHBC certification may be required for approval. For older buildings that may not have been built to modern standards, an in-depth survey may be required. In general, securing a mortgage for a timber-framed house should not be any more difficult than for a brick house. Most lenders prefer brick-clad timber frame houses as the outer surface is less susceptible to weather damage. This makes it easier to sell in the event of a repossession. For self-build mortgages, the money is usually released in stages following periodic inspections of building work. This can be a problem if the frame must be paid for upfront and it is worth checking the payment plans the manufacturer offers. Read more about timber frame building regulations here.

Are Timber Frame Homes More Expensive To Insure?

Modern timber frame manufacturing techniques make it far easier to secure home insurance. In the past, many insurance companies would not even consider it. Although timber frame new builds are as sturdy and durable as brick structures, they are still classed as ‘non-standard’. This can make insuring them a little more complex to insure. However, provided they comply with building standards and are well maintained, insurance should not be more expensive. Surprisingly, oak frames can be less susceptible to fire than steel beams. As the outer layer burns, it forms charcoal which will not continue to burn and insulates the core. At high temperatures, steel will soften and melt, leading to sudden collapse. This is just one example of an apparently obvious insurance risk that is actually a minor concern. It is always worth consulting several insurance firms to discuss the details of your property and find the best deal.

Hardwoods Group offer a range of standard design oak frames to suit many styles of building. We also offer a bespoke design service for customers with their own unique vision and will strive to make it a reality. Contact us today to discuss your requirements, we will be happy to help.