What are the Construction Options for a Self-Build Home?

When you are at the planning stage of a self-build project, there are a lot of decisions to be made.  Whether you are building a property from scratch or undertaking a renovation of an existing property, the construction options available are something to consider.  So what are the most popular methods in use around the country?

Brick and block

Brick and block is still the most popular method for building properties of any sort around the UK with some 70% of new properties being built in this method.  It uses an outer brick skin and inner block skin with the two being held together with wall ties.  It then adds internal load bearing walls made from brick with timber studwork used for non-load bearing walls.

With this system, there are plenty of tradesmen available to work on the project while self-builders can often easily get involved with the brick-laying and other aspects.  If you are working on a challenging site then foundations and levels can easily be dealt with and the properties have excellent thermal mass once properly insulated.

The biggest downside is that it is a wet system and this means it needs time to dry which lengthens the construction process considerably.  It can also be stopped entirely by some weather conditions such as freezing temperatures or heavy rain.  And the need for load-bearing walls means open plan styles are often not an option.

Timber frame

This is a method that has seen big increases in recent times and around 22% of all new homes are now made with it.  It appeals a lot to people who want the eco-friendly option of self-build homes because it is virtually a carbon-neutral building material, even when transport is taken into account.

Another big advantage is the speed of construction which means homes can be made in 8-12 weeks with much construction happening offsite.  It also means that weather has less impact and the system is a dry one with no time needed for wet items to dry out.  It also allows for open plan spaces and very good insulation.

One concern about older properties that are being renovated and have timber frame is that there could be problems such as woodworm.  However, it is simply to call in experts like Tapco HomeDry to carry out an inspection before work begins.  The area on which the property is built does also need to be perfectly level for the system to work.

Other types of construction

While brick and timber represent most of the construction, there are other options available.  Insulated concrete formwork is one example – it involves stacking a series of hollow blocks which interlock to make a mould.  This is then pumped full of mixed concrete for an extremely quick building option.  

ICF is a great way to insulate levels built into a structure and there is minimal skilled labour needed.  It is also very low in waste and can be done in freezing conditions.  However, it can be difficult to adapt and expensive, requiring special equipment.

Structural insulated panels or SIPS are made of two layers of orientated strand board that are bonded around an inner core of insulation.  They are precision engineered panels that are factory made, cutting down costs and time on site.  They can be used for a variety of structure purposes and offer great insulation for the property.  They are also ideal if you like an open plan design.  However, extremely precise measurements are needed and any alignment issues can lead to severe delayed.  You also need to work with specialist, experienced labour on this type of construction.

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