Self Build Systems and Types

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

Closed panel timber frame build systems are an offsite method of construction where components are assembled in a factory and delivered to site to be erected. As everything is engineered and manufactured offsite it can help to speed up this part of the build.

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

  • Offsite construction in a quality controlled factory
  • Wall panel thickness from 187mm to 237mm
  • A choice of build systems that are suitable for a variety of design styles
  • Fast on-site build time for this part of the build
  • U-values that exceed building regulations notional building requirements
  • Systems supported with fire resistance test evidence and thermal bridging calculations

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 are manufactured offsite into large sections and then delivered to site to be erected. Each individual panel is constructed from two pieces of orientated stranded board (OSB), with a layer of fibre-free rigid insulation sandwiched between. The OSB and rigid insulation composite forms a strong and stiff structure which is ideal for many types of project. You can also use SIPs to construct your roof, which means it can be used alongside a closed panel timber frame system.

SIPs systems are particularly popular in Passivhaus projects, as when used in combination with additional layers of insulation they are able to reach and exceed the demanding thermal performance levels needed to meet the Passivhaus standard.

Passivhaus homes provide a high level of occupant comfort and use very little energy for heating and cooling. The Passivhaus Standard adopts a whole-building approach with clear, measured targets. It focuses on high-quality construction, certified through an exacting quality assurance process.

By using Kingspan TEK® SIPs to build a Passivhaus you’ll benefit from:

  • Airtightness levels as low as 0.3 m³/(h.m²) @ 50 Pa
  • U-values as low as 0.09W/m²K
  • Thermal bridge free’ construction

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.

Potton timber frame and SIP Systems

Part of the Potton package is the design supply and construction of a timber frame or SIP building system. All of our build systems are manufactured offsite in a quality-controlled factory. The design of the structure being used to construct your new home will be created using specialised CAD systems that help us to provide accurate and compliant information to our factory. Building systems that incorporate offsite manufacture are normally quicker to construct on-site.

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

Kingspan ULTIMA

Kingspan ULTIMA, our closed panel timber frame range, is manufactured in our quality-controlled factory. We provide five different options for Kingspan ULTIMA, each offering varying degrees of insulation with U-values ranging from 0.16-0.11 W/m²K, depending on the type of external cladding being used.


  • U-values to exceed building regulations notional building requirements
  • Designed to help achieve the required level of airtightness
  • Thermal performance, to exceed building regulations
  • Calculated thermal bridging values
  • Wall panel thickness from 187mm to 237mm
  • Manufactured in a factory with a comprehensive integrated management system
  • Components assembled off-site, to help speed up the onsite build of your frame
  • Design flexibility – for modern-day living

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

Kingspan TEK® is our structural insulated panel, or SIP, offering. It is manufactured in a quality-controlled factory to meet the design requirements of your new home. The thermal performance inherent in Kingspan TEK® panels means it can be used to construct new homes with the most demanding levels of energy efficiency including those where the requirement is to meet the Passivhaus standard.


  • U-values to exceed building regulations
  • Potential whole-house airtightness levels of 0.3 to 3
  • Designed to help reduce thermal bridging
  • Wall panel thickness from 142mm to 172mm
  • Quality assured with off-site construction
  • Components assembled off-site, to help speed up the onsite build of your superstructure
  • Design flexibility – for modern-day open-plan living

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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