Pioneers in the Old West prepared for winter with the resources they had to hand, and often it was timber that kept them safe and snug while the blizzards howled round their door. In Scotland, people admire the robust stone-built homes – a tradition that served the same purpose.
As construction technology and transportation have improved, the choice of materials has become less one of necessity and more one of personal choice; however, there are still pros and cons to consider.
There are two things that builds usually want to achieve with speed: the completion of the project from start to finish and the erection – these are not the same thing. A big advantage of timber framed construction is that whole wall and roof sections can be built in workshops far from the site. The speed at which the structure can be assembled on site is enormously increased, with its waterproof qualities minimising weather worries.
Timber is a better insulator than brickwork and breeze blocks, especially when pre-fabricated with built-in insulation. As a result, timber walls can be thinner and lighter. A typical working family only needs the house to be heated or cooled during the morning and evening, in which case a timber home is both faster to warm and faster to cool because the walls soak up less heat.
Wood is less sound resistant than stone; however, modern acoustic insulation and construction methods, such as floating floors, can redress this balance.
The bane of many post-war brick homes, mildew grows where moist air touches cold walls. As timber warms faster, this problem is reduced; however, it is important that timber walls are correctly designed and installed so that moist air can never gain ingress and condense inside them. Using an experienced timber frame construction company such as http://www.qtfhomes.co.uk/ will ensure mildew is not an issue.
A government study published in 2012 found that small fires in timber framed houses are less common and do less damage than similar fires in traditional houses; however, more serious fires do more damage. Safety in all houses depends principally on factors such as smoke alarms.
The Old Parsonage in West Dean, Sussex has been lived in since 1280. Timber built St Andrew’s church in Greensted, Essex is believed to have been there since 845AD.