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Timber Frame Construction
Most timber frame buildings in the UK are built using prefabricated panels produced by specialist companies such as Vision Development. Factory production of these timber frame panels ensures that they are accurately manufactured to precise tolerances in a controlled factory environment rather than being constructed outside on a building site at the mercy of the weather.
The timber frame panels are rapidly erected on site and, with a roof structure formed from trussed rafters, a weather proof building can be created in just a few days. This enables work to continue in sheltered conditions within the building whilst the outer cladding and roof finishes are applied. This not only saves time but also allows decoration to be carried out soon after completion of the building without risk of cracking and deterioration of finishes.
Timber frame construction is not just for houses – it is also used extensively for schools, hotels, offices, blocks of flats and sporting facilities. Timber frame construction can be used for buildings of up to eight storeys in height. Timber frame construction can conform to all the requirements of the Building Regulations.
Timber Frame Panels
Timber frame wall panels are made up of softwood vertical studs and horizontal rails with a wood based panel sheathing and a plasterboard lining. The vertical studs bear loads through the structure to the foundations. The sheathing provides resistance to wind. Thermal insulation materials are usually incorporated in the spaces between the studs of external walls. For more information see Insulating Materials.
Depending on the design of the wall, protective membrane materials may also be required. For most external walls a breather membrane on the external face of the panels protects the panels during construction. This breather membrane also provides extra defence against any wind driven rain that may penetrate the completed external cladding. A vapour control layer is usually required on the inner side of the insulation, behind the plasterboard lining, to prevent water vapour entering the wall panel.
Timber is recognised as the only renewable construction material and the softwoods used in timber frame are sourced from environmentally sustainable British and European forests. Timber frame construction gives designers a great deal of flexibility in both layout and external appearance. High levels of thermal insulation are incorporated within the construction, reducing heating costs and conserving energy.