Offsite timber frame manufacture: the pros and cons

By Lizzie

Offsite timber frame construction has raced ahead in recent years, both in terms of popularity with self-builders and the UK’s ability to manufacture. However, a timber frame structure produced offsite won’t be the right choice for every project. The decision boils down to time and project specifics, including budget and design ambitions.

The most important factor to keep in mind when weighing up the pros and cons is to be extremely collaborative from the start. A close relationship between the homeowner, architect and potential timber frame manufacturer will ensure the project meets expectations. You won’t get halfway through the project and realise that a certain feature you had set your heart on isn’t possible through offsite construction.

The TAS team has designed a variety of timber frame homes, manufactured both on and offsite, so we know what works and what doesn’t. We can help you make the right choice for your project, so get in touch if you’d like to talk ideas through. In the meantime, here are a few pros and cons to consider.

The pros

Sustainability: Timber is a sustainable choice in terms of carbon footprint, and putting it together offsite adds to this. Energy costs can be controlled more effectively, for example, and there is usually less waste.

Time: Offsite manufacturing can keep construction time down. A timber frame structure can often be constructed within weeks in a factory, where factors such as weather and accessibility are less of an issue. A shorter timeframe can be very useful, such as where neighbours or ecology are being considered.

Cost: Producing a frame in a factory saves on both labour and materials, as there will be less reliance on different trades. Scheduling can be more accurate – once the time to produce the structure has been booked into the factory, it will happen.

The cons

Simple is better: If a structure is complicated, offsite construction might not be the right choice. It is better suited to simpler structures. If a building is being designed with a complicated roof, for example, with multiple cantilevers, it might be better to bring in steel so as not to compromise on design options.

Increased design time: All decisions have to be made prior to manufacture, which means that highly accurate information and surveys are needed. Timing and the order of processes will differ to a traditional build which can lead to higher fees during the design process.

Tags: Construction, Design, On Site

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