Top Tips For Timber Frame Success

Self builder and MD of Fleming Homes, Sarah Mathieson, shares the inside track on ensuring your project goes smoothly
Fleming Homes
by Fleming Homes
22nd August 2023

There are many methods you can choose from to construct your new home – from masonry and ICF through to SIPs and timber frame. It’s good to understand how your chosen system works, and regardless of which best suits your project, there is a universal benefit in settling on your build system early.

Here I’ve outlined some actions you can take to ensure project success with timber frame.

1. Early Engagement

Speaking to your timber frame manufacturer at the outset can deliver multiple benefits. If they are a package provider, they may be able to offer a wide range of additional services, from initial design, planning and Building Regs, through to timber frame engineering and erecting your kit on site.

Some of these can add real value if you are self-project managing and could help you save money in the long run. For example, some timber frame companies offer a highly cost-effective (or even free) design service which you can select instead of appointing an architect.

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This route relies on you having a good idea of what you want to build. A designer will draw up plans specific to timber frame, which means they will be thinking about the structural cost efficiencies as they translate your ideas into a buildable scheme. If your budget is tight, your timber frame designer can help you value engineer by balancing the cost of specific features against the benefits they will deliver, so you can make informed choices to manage your budget.

2. Get your Ducks in a Row

Working through the Building Regs process with a timber frame provider can facilitate early decision making in several key specification areas. For example, if you are planning to have underfloor heating on the first floor, your timber frame manufacturer needs to know this before the structural plans are developed.

Doing this early provides a playbook for everyone on your team to work to. This also ensures your project receives early engineering – up until your project has been evaluated, all assumptions around the design will be speculative. Once engineering has been received, your timber frame manufacturer can provide you with a detailed and accurate quotation.

3. Coordinate With your Build Team

The first phase of the timber frame process is producing your construction drawings. At this stage, it is important that all your design decisions are set in stone, as any changes while the frame is being made can cost you time and money.

Your construction design technician will initially produce your wall plate layout. This is the blueprint for your substructure. It is critical that the foundations are built to the exact specifications on the wall plate drawing and relevant engineering documents, so it is imperative these are issued to your groundworkers.

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4. Be Site Ready

There are several things you will be responsible for during the site preparation phase. It’s important that you understand what’s required in relation to: access and offloading; storage of materials; plant and equipment (for example, erecting the frame usually requires a telehandler and often a crane); scaffolding; waste management; general health and safety; and sanitary facilities.

These elements are not unique to timber frame and apply to any project you might undertake. But if your supplier is erecting the structural kit, they will work closely with you to help you understand your responsibilities for getting site ready.

5. Communication is Key

Throughout the process of producing your construction drawings and preparing your site for the delivery of your kit, first class communication is fundamental. This starts with the initial discussion of your estimated delivery date.

Many factors will come into play that have the potential to affect this, and it is not unusual for your dates to change. But you must keep your timber frame supplier informed of any revisions to the timeline as soon as possible, so that they can plan accordingly. Don’t leave this to the last minute or you could end up with costly delays!

Sarah Mathieson is managing director at Fleming Homes, which specialises in the design and manufacture of bespoke timber frame self builds. For more information, call 01361 883785 or visit Fleming Homes’ website.

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