Bespoke Homes From Design to Completion

1. Masonry Construction – A Solid Investment

Masonry is still the most popular method of building a house, The Traditional Housing Bureau states that it is the build method of choice for 70% of house builders. The main advantage is its flexibility both during the build and for later alterations and extensions. No specialist labour is required and is suitable for sites with a limited access.

Masonry can provide a minimum “U” value of 0.17W/m2K for external walls and an extremely airtight structure, both of which exceed the requirements under Building Regulations. Solid upper floors and internal walls ensure you enjoy outstanding acoustic performance, enhanced fire resistance and increased levels of comfort due to high thermal efficiency.

Design & Materials have an established reputation for offering across the UK, the most comprehensive package for the self builder or developer using masonry for the core structure. Aware of individual trends and a changing market, alternative full or hybrid build systems are an option.

Build Route: The original way for a self-builder. Today, time is a precious commodity with more builds using package company in conjunction with a local contractor or a project manager.

1.1 The BuildFast system: the super-fast way to build your new home

This is a tried and tested system which utilises thin-joint technology. The inner skin of masonry is erected first and the dwelling quickly made wind and weather tight. This allows the internal trades to start working sooner and the builder then carries on with the outer skin and roof tiling work. The system is very adaptable and allows for all external finishes be it brick/render/stone or cladding.

Using the BuildFast system means for a two storey house of 200m² the structure can be weather tight in as little as 14 days allowing the internal trades to commence work sooner. Overall build time is significantly reduced resulting in significant savings on labour and site overheads and the cost of renting temporary accommodation. There are further benefits of reduced on site wastage, improved quality of construction and increased air-tightness and bond strength.

Design & Material’s Buildfast system uses large format aircrete blocks for a quicker build option with all the advantages a masonry build can bring. The additional cost of the block manufacturing process can be offset by an overall reduced shell build time to allow the internal trades an early start. With a glue type mortar, the 2-3mm joints set rapidly allowing a full height storey wall to be built in one day. In some cases, the roof can be constructed and covered off the internal skin to allow the internal trades to start as the external skin is built. Now accepted by a wider range of bricklayers, this option delivers ease of laying, less waste and an improved work quality and level of airtightness.

Build Route: A local contractor with or without hand on involvement by the self builder.

2. ICF (Insulated Concrete Formwork)

This is based on the principle of building the structural walls from interlocking expanded polystyrene hollow blocks or sheet panels infilled with a reinforced concrete core. With the help of ‘training’ days offered by the manufactures, it is possible for a self builder to build the walls themselves. The critical item, to pour the concrete infill requires an experienced contractor.  This system has all the benefits expected; good thermal insulation, high airtightness and a quick build time. It can easily be used in conjunction with SIP cassettes for the roof construction. Late changes and adaptions can be expensive and difficult to complete.

Build Route: Specialist package companies offer a full design, manufacture and erect package.  Previous self build experience is advisable due to the accuracy required for the foundation and floor slab.

3. SIPs (Structurally Insulated Panels)

The build system favoured by many of the larger package companies based in the UK and Europe, offering timber and joinery options. Especially suited to clients who wish to decide all the details, specification, fixture and finishes at the start of the project. A quick system to erect by a specialist team once the groundworks are completed, normally by a contractor knows to the package company.   The panels can also be used by the self builder in their ‘raw’ state similar to the timber frame system. Difficult to access sites may be a problem due to the need for mechanical lifting of the individual panels.

Build Route: Like timber frame the self builder should be advised to appoint a single company to for a ‘shell build’. The time is best spent in arranging the quotes and starts for the internal trades.

4. Timber Frame

Timber framing has evolved from individual open panels to a ‘closed’ system with the framework clad with OSB panels and later filled with insulation after erection. The panels can be delivered with the external face covered in a waterproof and breathable membrane. Externally, the skin of brickwork or render, or a lighter system such as brick slips or timber cladding.

Build Route: Most projects are supplied through a design, manufacture and erect package company.  A self builder should have previous experience of managing the construction of accurate foundations and floor slabs, the allowances for differential movement and overall close attention to details to keep the frame dry and internal and external membranes intact.