A Beginner's Guide To Timber Frame Home Extensions

Is a timber frame extension for you? Read on and let's find out!

A large extension using lots of timber as part of the structure

Extending your home can be a time-consuming and costly job but timber frame extensions are growing in popularity as a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to traditional builds. However, this type of extension is still very much not the norm and you’ll need a renovations or extensions specialist to work on the project with you. So is a timber frame extension for you? Read on and let’s find out!
Timber framed extension and roof

What are the benefits to a Timber Frame Extension over a traditional bricks-and-mortar build?

Timber frame extensions have many benefits over more traditional builds, including:
- They’re cheaper to build
- They offer good levels of thermal performance and airtightness, so are sustainable and eco-friendly
- The timber used can be reclaimed to meet designated sustainability credentials as required
- The build time on timber frames is quicker than with bricks or all-glass
- The weathertight stage of the build is reached quicker than with traditional builds (days rather than weeks)
- There is less reliance on good weather conditions for build stages
- The value that a timber extension adds to a property is comparable to that of a traditional extension
- Disruption to the home is less as the project lead time is less

Why are Timber Frame Extensions cheaper to build?

Fewer labour hours are required for timber frame extensions than with other property projects and so costs are generally less. What’s more, the project timescales are more predictable than with larger extensions as there is less dependence on good weather conditions for work to take place. In some cases, the timber used may be able to be reclaimed and so can be sourced cheaper than it would be for new materials.

What can a Timber Frame Extension be used for?

Most timber frame extensions are built to the rear of properties for sun rooms or dining rooms, but such extensions can be used for just about anything. They’re not best suited to bedrooms however, as they can be cooler than most would find comfortable due to them often being so heavy with glazing.
An extension with gym

Is planning permission required for Timber Frame Extension?

If a proposed extension of any type meets certain criteria in regards of its size and position, it may be built under homeowners’ Permitted Development Rights (PDRs). However, if a property is situated in a conservation area or AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), if the extension is to be large or if the existing building is listed, external permission is required. It’s worth noting however, that many local planning authorities (LPAs) are sympathetic toward timber frame extensions because of their gentle aesthetic and sustainability credentials.

How long will it take to build a Timber Frame Extension?

Generally speaking, a timber frame extension can be built in about 4 weeks but if planning permission is required, the project time frame will be lengthened. Planning permission can take up to 8 weeks to be granted (not including any additional time for appeals if required) which will need to be completed and in place before any construction work begins. Once granted, planning permission lasts for a standard of 3 years (unless otherwise stated) but if work hasn’t commenced by then, it must be re-applied for. 

How is a Timber Frame Extension built?

Most timber frame extensions are ‘stick build’ constructions with the timber frame panels made on-site by the joiner as opposed to being manufactured in a factory. The frame is designed by a structural engineer to spec and is provided with frames, lintels and cripple studs as well as a nailing schedule. The joiner takes delivery of all of the parts, makes up the timber frame panels following the specifications and manufactures them to suit. For timber frame extensions with large expanses of glazing, specific arrangements may be made for a steel or glulam portal frame portion. This would usually be fabricated off-site and delivered in sections to be bolted together on-site.

Which exterior finish is best for a Timber Frame Extension?

A variety of external finishes are suitable for timber frame extensions, including but by no means limited to:
- Facing brick
- Rendered brickwork/blockwork
- Natural stone
- Reconstituted stone
- Brick slips
- Timber
- Fibre cement cladding
- Metal cladding
- Render board system

What requirement is there for a movement gap for a Timber Frame Extension?

All building extensions require a movement gap between the new build portion and existing structure to accommodate shrinkage, thermal and moisture movement. Movement joints are usually created using a stainless steel channel tie system. These provide lateral restraints that allow both horizontal and vertical movement. The gap formed between the two structures is filled with a flexible sealant to make it weathertight.
An outdoor extension featuring lots of timber

How much do Timber Frame Extensions cost?

Every extension project is different and so costs vary hugely, but generally speaking, timber frame extensions cost around £2,000 per square metre of extended space.

Who gets involved in the build of a Timber Frame Extension?

Building extensions require large project teams of mixed-skill professionals. Refresh Renovations manage such projects with a dedicated Project Manager and then hire in the necessary tradespeople. This includes plumbers, electricians, architects, joiners, roofers, plasterers and painter-decorators as required. The Project Manager oversees the whole process from conception to completion and ensures everything is delivered on-time and to budget.

Do all extension specialists make Timber Frame Extensions or do I need a specialist provider?

Most extension specialists will be able to work with Timber Frames but some do only work with more traditional structures. Refresh Renovations are highly experienced and skilled in extensions of all types and so our project teams are able to accommodate whatever type of extension it is that you’d prefer – as well as with reclaimed wood if desired. 

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Thinking about a timber framed extension? To find out if we can help you with your home improvement project, get in touch today!

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