Case study: what’s involved in a timber house build?

Ryan Abell, owner of Abell Building Services, provides a breakdown of what’s involved in building a timber house, focusing on the benefits and pitfalls of choosing timber as a main building material.

Whilst timber houses aren’t a new invention – in fact, they’re believed to date back to the Bronze Age – they are becoming more widely sought after following a resurgence in popularity in the past few years. Alongside looking great and being highly customisable, they’re really quick to build, which is making them attractive to a wide range of people who want a newly built home.

We first started specialising in timber house building following a recommendation made by someone we had built timber framed and cladded stables for. Our first timber house project was then born, beginning in a field in Long Clawson, Leicestershire.

Planning the project

Our client had created their own design, which we helped them to tweak following suggestions on best use and layout. The design quickly evolved and we were soon able to plan the materials to be used.

I personally helped to recommend and to pick materials throughout the build. Obviously, there was a great deal of timber involved as it made up around 90% of the build.

There were also occasions where I helped to source premium materials to upgrade the look and feel of the end build, by replacing items like normal timber doors, skirting, architrave and window boards to ones made from solid oak.

How the timber house was built

Timber frames are the starting point of any timber build. We then used treated thermos wood cladding for the walls of the home, which were affixed before the application of a vital waterproof layer to the external timber.

The timber roofing was then constructed and attached to the existing timber framing. All that was left to do then was to construct the house’s interior, which like most timber houses, was plaster boarded to enable further insulation and, of course, decoration.

What you get for your money

The house was built to contain a large lounge, a large kitchen diner, a large utility room, 4 double bedrooms (including a master suite with a walk-in wardrobe and en-suite) a main bathroom and an entrance hall.

Including the estimated costs of the bathroom suites and a kitchen suite, the entire project cost around £125,000.

Timber build timeframes

From start to finish or from a field to a house ready to move into, the project took just over 5 months to complete. This was based on the build being completed on site rather than offsite, due to poor access and limitations in size, height and footings.

Benefits of timber houses

The main benefit of timber houses is the short time they take to build and be ready to move in to. Timber houses are almost always far faster to build than traditional brick-built houses.

A secondary benefit is that timber-built houses can be constructed as a temporary building, if you were to only be granted temporary planning permission rather than the full planning permission required to build a brick structure.

The cost is also an important consideration. In the case of our first timber house build, the owner was able to create a custom 4-bedroom home to their exact requirements, in an area where an equivalent property would have cost at least three times more.