Self Build Systems and Types

Discover different routes to self build with Potton, including the differences and benefits of Timber Frame and SIPs build systems.

Self build systems

A crucial decision to make for any self-builder is how their new house will be constructed. Many people automatically think of brick but that’s only one of many approaches you can take. There are many alternative building systems on the market, all growing in popularity in the UK, with their own unique advantages.

There is no ‘best system’. The right one for you will depend on your requirements, circumstances and priorities. A simple way to approach the decision is by reviewing the available options.

Timber frame systems

Offers a solid framework, constructed from custom-made timber components and assembled on-site. The structure is then weatherproofed, insulated and made airtight with vapour control layers and advanced breathable membranes. Creating an energy efficient and resilient shell.

People who opt for a timber frame system will benefit from:

  • Offsite precision prefabrication
  • Slimmer construction, with opportunity to increase floor space
  • Suitable for a variety of designs
  • Speed of construction, compared to masonry
  • Low air leakage, with good u-value range
  • Thermally efficient, with a high level of insulation
  • Reduced energy bills
  • High performing against building regulations
  • Sustainably sourced timber

Most of the technical work is carried out during the manufacturing process, which is great for accuracy and speed of build once onsite. Just be mindful to allow for enough time during the production phase.

Positives: It’s an environmentally friendly method and very fast to construct.

Structural insulated panels (SIPs)

Structural Insulated Panels known as SIPs is a modern advancement on the timber frame concept. Each individual panel is constructed from two pieces of orientated stranded board (OSB), with a layer of high-grade insulation sandwiched between. The high-performing result is flexible and strong, ideal for many types of projects.

SIPs systems are particularly popular in passive house projects, as its excellent levels of energy efficiency meet the standards required to meet the rigorous Passivhaus certification.

Positives: Ecologically friendly project with a quick build time once panels are on-site. A passive house can be an ambitious build but does creates an energy-efficient home. Its high performance is due to a number of factors:

  • Mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system (MVHR) used in passive house builds
  • Near complete airtightness
  • Extremely high insulation levels
  • Passive house design features, to optimise solar gains and natural lighting

You can achieve passive house certification with a variety of construction methods, including timber frame home, SIPs and traditional brick and block. The standards for certification are rigorous and could be a challenge to meet.

Positives: It’s an ecologically friendly method with a low carbon footprint. It also makes for a healthy living environment.

Potton timber frame and SIP Systems

All of our build systems use timber as the base structural material and all are manufactured off-site in a controlled factory environment. While people sometimes have misgivings about factory manufacture, it delivers increased accuracy, reliability, and sustainability. The manufacturing information is derived directly from the CAD design and so, providing the original design is correct, the manufactured product should be as well.

The range of build systems we provide offer self-builders distinctly different performance options and, naturally, different price points.

Kingspan ULTIMA

Kingspan ULTIMA is our closed-panel timber-frame offering, manufactured in our quality-controlled factory to guarantee dimensional accuracy. We offer Kingspan ULTIMA in two different options, the only difference being the degree of insulation they provide, and their U-values lie between 0.15 and 0.13W/m²K depending on your thermal efficiency needs.


  • Powered by Kingspan Kooltherm phenolic insulation, which minimises wall thickness and maximises valuable floor space
  • Exceptional airtightness and significantly reduced thermal bridging
  • Minimises thickness and maximises internal space
  • Facilitates a rapid build solution by providing large-scale component elements manufactured offsite
  • Independent testing and modelling to confirm fire resistance and thermal performance

Kingspan TEK® Building System - SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels)

Kingspan TEK® is our structural insulated panel, or SIP, offering. As a SIP, it is manufactured in a quality controlled factory exactly to the specific architectural drawings of each individual house. The thermal performance inherent in the Kingspan TEK® panels means it can be used to construct buildings with excellent levels of energy efficiency, including gold standard Passivhaus buildings.


  • 0.13W/m²K U value with a 370mm panel (Kingspan TEK® Plus 13, assuming brick cladding), creating maximum living space
  • Airtight by design
  • Facilitates a fast build using large-scale factory-manufactured construction elements
  • Building regulation compliant
  • Closed-panel structural system, enabling rapid build and ease for follow-on trades
  • Engineered and precision manufactured, offering right-first-time quality

Speak with a Self Build Consultant

Not sure which building system is right for your new home? Contact us and we can guide you through the different build systems and the many other crucial decisions you’ll need to make as a self-builder.

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