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Advantages and Disadvantages of Timber Frame Construction

 

Advantages of Timber Frame Construction

 

  • Recyclable
  • Renewable

Timber is classified as a renewable material, as the principle holds that if a tree is felled another is planted in its place. As long as this balance is maintained, the supply will be sustainable.

  • Low embodied energy if constructed in local timber
  • Reduced construction waste through efficient controlled manufacturing
  • Low volume of waste on site requiring removal
  • Quick build time

A prefabricated timber frame can be erected on site faster than a comparable brick and block construction. However, timber frames may require additional time for their design and fabrication, which can lead to a longer wait before work begins on site. 

  • Reduced site labour
  • Reduced time to weather the structure
  • Earlier introduction of following trades

The quicker erection time enables interior trades such as plastering and electrical wiring to begin work earlier in the build programme, as the interior will be exposed to weather for less time.

  • Can be built to exceed 60-year design life
  • Energy efficient when constructed to current standards
  • Fast heating due to low thermal mass

Their low thermal mass allows spaces enclosed by timber frames to heat up more quickly than masonry construction, however they will also tend to cool more quickly.

  • Reduced time on site reduces environmental nuisance and disruption to local residents
  • Engineered product
  • Factory controlled quality assurance in fabrication

Off site fabrication can allow higher quality to be achieved.

  • Efficient use of material due to controlled engineering and fabrication
  • Reduced construction time translates into reduced risk exposure

 

Potential Problems with Timber Frame Construction

 

  • Traditional procurement process
  • Additional design and engineering time
  • Modification of general arrangement drawings if based on masonry construction
  • Lack of experienced builders and erection crews
  • Lack of experience of following trades
  • Transportation and carriage access
  • Exposure to weather before enclosed
  • Work of following trades
  • Deficiency of site quality control
  • Combustibility of timber requires vigilant quality control to achieve required fire rating of separating and compartment walls

The fire resistance of timber frame buildings is achieved by a combination of the lining material, the timber structure and the insulation.

Additional fire protection can be given to the frame by the boarding used to clad it and fire stops installed to prevent spread through the cavity.

Recent fire tests commissioned by the Timber Frame Industry and the ITFMA showed that in general a 15mm Type A plasterboard is required to meet the Fire resistance of REI 30 for external walls (see detail).

The risk of fire can be increased if timber frames are not erected correctly, and during construction prior to fire protection being installed.

  • Susceptibility to decay of timber when exposed to excessive moisture

Timber frame structures must include a vapour barrier between the lining of the inner wall and the insulation, to prevent vapour passing through.

  • Acoustics

Timber frame structures may not achieve the same level of sound insulation as concrete or masonry as they are not as dense.

 

Timber Frame – Wall Detail (Service Cavity Wall)

Clonmore House – Wexford

 

One thing we can take it from granted when we visit a rural site in Ireland – green pastures!

On our first visit to this site we were greeted by our young clients and Bel, the sheep.

It was easy to get lost in the stunning open views of the hills but Bel reminded us this was a working farm.

 

 

This site in North Wexford has a gentle south-facing slope and it offers the ideal location for our farmer client to build his future family home.

 

 

Re-inventing the traditional farmyard layout

The proposal was strongly inspired by the rural location, the farm environment and the close proximity to existing farm buildings. The traditional farmyard layout (see no. 1 below) was the starting point for the new scheme.

 

The existing site contours are used as the regulating lines for the new layout. They shift the smaller volume until it is stopped by the 2 storey volume (see no. 2 above). The result is a layout that easily meets the current lifestyle of its occupants while reflecting cultural values of the traditional farmyard layout.

 

 

The main living spaces open up to south to enjoy the best views and passive solar gains. The windows frame the views to the surrounding farmlands and hills. The bedrooms face east to enjoy the morning light. The living room connects to an outside space that is sheltered from the weather and can be used all year around.

 

 

A palette of natural and man-made materials is proposed. Stone walls feature throughout the house recalling the character of agricultural buildings. The zinc has a strong agricultural feel that  balances the composition whilst connecting the traditional gabled volumes. This is contrasted with the stone and white render which act as contemporary, yet rural materials.

The layout optimises the use of solar energy and aims to achieve an A3 BER rating (50 kWh/m2/yr).







See more animations here.

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Irish Construction Costs 2017

Every year we share useful information to guide you on the costs for your construction project in Ireland. This will help you to estimate an approximate figure for your building costs.

You can check our other articles in this series here.

The Irish economy will continue to recover and the upturn in the construction industry is well visible.

A shortage of skilled labour has lead to an upward trend in tender levels.

Linesight’s research shows that, on average, tender prices rose by approximately 7% during 2016. Linesight predicts that tender prices will increase at a faster pace of 7.5% on average, due to the shortage of resources. Greater increases are expected in the Dublin area and this could be 9% or even higher for complex city centre projects.

SCSI reports that if price inflation continues to grow at the current level, it is anticipated that pricing levels will return to the levels last seen in 2006 and 2007 in the next few years.

 

Average Irish Construction Prices 2017

The average construction costs table is generated using Linesight’s Cost Database and sets out typical building construction costs.

(Click image to enlarge)

Average Irish Construction Costs 2017. Source: Linesight

 

Turner & Townsend‘s annual construction cost survey also provides an overview of construction costs in Ireland.

(Click image to enlarge)

International building costs per m2 of internal area, in 2017. Source: Turner & Townsend

 

 

Labour rates and Construction Materials Prices

Turner & Townsend‘s annual construction cost survey provides labour costs and also the prices for some materials. Their cost escalation forecast for 2017-2018 is 8%.

(Click image to enlarge)

Labour and Materials Prices, 2017. Source: Turner & Townsend

 

 

The latest monthly data from CSO recorded that all materials prices increased by 3.4% in the year since July 2016.

The most notable yearly changes were increases in Glass (+21.7%), Sand and gravel (+21.4%) and Plaster (+7.9%) while there were decreases in Other concrete products excluding precast concrete (-1.5%), Concrete blocks and bricks (-0.6%) and Other structural steel (-0.4%).

 

Guide to Rebuilding Costs in Ireland

The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) provides a House Rebuilding Cost Calculator here. This calculator can be used as a guide to give you a minimum base cost for your construction project.

New SCSI House Delivery Cost Calculator Tool

SCSI have developed a useful online calculator for developers to perform an analysis tailored to their own developments.

Private/individual users should use this calculator cautiously. Professional fees, for example, will be considerable higher for private developments than they are for developer built schemes where the level of repetition is often high.

SCSI highlights that the actual construction costs or hard costs made up less than half of the total costs. The online calculator allows users to adjust each elemental component of both the hard and soft costs for themselves.

House Delivery Cost Calculator (screenshot). Source: SCSI

 

Typical Exclusions

There are a number of other expenses that you should also consider when estimating your project. See some of the exclusions that may apply to your project here.

Architect’s fees will vary based on a number of factors ranging from size and complexity to level of the service required. These two articles provide some guidelines:

Additionally, you may also need to allow for:

  • Design Certifier Fees
  • Assigned Certifier fees

 

Check out our other articles in this series

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