It's the time for timber
Often people ask how building with timber aids the design and construction of contemporary style homes. Our Technical Director, Paul Newman shares his views...
How does using timber aid the design / construction of contemporary style homes?
The term ‘contemporary’ will mean different things to different people. For some it will only involve a change in furniture and finish. For others it may require an open plan structure with a traditional external appearance whilst for others, their contemporary home will present a wide range of structural and design challenges to deliver something that can be described as modern and exciting in all regards.
Timber-based building systems from companies such as Potton can help meet the needs of all these contemporary designs and one of the major benefits for the self-builder is that they are able to choose and work with a design and construction partner that can select and blend different structural systems together at the design stage and then manufacture and build the envelope of the building under a contract with one point of responsibility. There is simply no need for anyone to co-ordinate a string of different sub-contractors and once the envelope is complete internal and external works can progress simultaneously.
Can timber help with creating modern architectural features – for example open plan spaces?
There is now a wide range of timber-based products and systems that can help achieve almost any architectural design or feature, whether it be a vaulted double height space, a cantilevered balcony or wide span floors with large doors and windows in the external walls.
The addition of materials such as cross-laminated timber into our portfolio alongside Kingspan TEK, timber-frame and engineered floor systems means that our designers are able to work with customers to interpret the design and then select the most appropriate materials. Where designs are complicated it makes real sense to engage with us at the earliest possible stage.
Are there any developments in timber technology that further enable contemporary home design?
Cross laminated timber is a truly modern and exciting structural material with genuine sustainability credentials. It is constructed from staves of kiln-dried timber glued together to form large sheets (3.0m x 14m) in which the layers (normally 3, 5 or 7) are arranged at 90 degrees to each other.
Used alone or in combination with other products it enables our designers to create wholly timber-based buildings that would previously be unachievable without the use of steel or concrete.
How can building with timber aid modern construction standards, for example for energy efficiency?
The new Building Regulations that cover energy efficiency (Part L) can be relatively demanding, particularly for contemporary designs with large amounts of glazing and high surface area to volume ratios (think of a single storey C shaped design). Combine this with a challenging open plan structure with vaulted spaces and an understandable customer preference to exceed the requirements of the regulations and the opportunity for timber-based structures with clear and demonstrable sustainability and energy efficiency credentials is obvious.
It is just so much easier to achieve high levels of energy efficiency using warm and natural timber products than it is with cold hard concrete and steel. It really is no wonder that people are beginning to describe the 21st Century as “the time for timber”.
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