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Why Wood?

The acceptance of Timber Frame Housing in South Africa was a slow process. Apart from past legal restraints imposed by the government, part of the blame lies with unqualified builders who built cheap, sub standard timber homes that were poorly constructed.

This created a negative stereotype of Timber Frame Construction.

Nothing could be further from the truth as is evident from this website. 70% of the developed world’s population live in Timber Frame homes. In America on average 95% of all new houses are built in Timber Frame, in Australia 85% and in New Zealand 87%. As the trend towards the use of sustainable materials increases, timber is also gaining popularity with designers and architects as a material in contemporary architecture.

The type of design, luxury, quality of finish, and combinations of exterior claddings are limited only by one’s imagination. With the solid backing of centuries of use, timber, as a building material, has stood the test of time. This reliability underpins its natural design flexibility, potential carbon neutrality, and gentle ecological footprint as a construction material.

“Timber Frame Construction is set to serve an ever-growing market of environmentally conscious, forward thinking individuals.” – (Jacques Cronje’ – Architect & owner of timberdesign.co.za)

Less energy spent:

Wood has no thermal conductivity and therefore acts as a brilliant natural insulator. A Timber Frame wall is a hollow cavity with evenly spaced structural timber studs. The nature of this cavity, along with the high insulating properties of timber prevent ‘thermal bridging’, that allow the wall to be easily filled with as much insulation as is required to produce a thermally superior home.

Less money is spent on heating in winter and cooling in summer. Your energy bill will be drastically reduced.

Environmentally friendly:

There is minimal wastage & disturbance to the environment during the building process. Due to the light weight of timber construction, smaller independent foundations are required and only a small area around the perimeter of house needs to be cleared for construction. This means very low impact on the environment. No extensive concrete strip footings or heavy machinery come near your site. The work is quite simply neat and tidy requiring dry products to be installed and fixed. Your neighbours and surrounding areas stay pristine.

Difficult and sensitive terrain:

A Timber home can be built on any site, no matter how difficult the terrain. Timber Frame construction is the only construction allowed by architects and environmentalists when construction is required in sensitive natural areas. We have built homes where only a small pathway through the bush was allowed. All materials were carried through the bush and built on the edge of a cliff.

Timber structure is the preferred choice of construction by engineers on difficult sites or when unstable soil conditions are present. The additional costs pertaining to the foundations are minimal compared to those costs associated with a conventional brick home.

Easily altered and extended:

Timber homes can easily be extended without vast costs being incurred. With no wetwork or heavy machinery required together with the low impact of the construction, the operation is very clean, fast and unobtrusive. No curing time is required and the speed of construction leads to very little inconvenience to the client. With nearly all of our alterations, the client didn’t have to move out of their homes. My wife will attest to this AND most importantly to the fact that her garden remained 100% intact.

The alteration gets done and the doors get cut through the existing walls at the end the alteration.

Gained space:

On an average home of 100m2 approximately 6m2 (enough for a study or bathroom) is gained by building a Timber Home as opposed to a Brick home. The reason being that an external Timber wall is 110mm thick as opposed to an external brick wall being 300mm thick (including plaster).

You gain approximately 1 sq.m of internal floor area for every 7 running meter of external wall length? The maths is like this; typical cavity brick wall at 300mm (including plaster) less typical timber frame external wall at 150mm (including lining & cladding) equals 0.15 sq.m of floor area saved per metre of wall; multiply by 7 RM and you get 1.05 sq.m.

So next time you are comparing ‘sq.m rates’, don’t forget to factor this in to your sums.

Soil movement:

The ability of Timber homes to withstand soil movement without damage is of prime importance. Timber construction is a light weight form of construction and due to the flexibility of timber, movement is absorbed. You will have no cracks in your home. Timber construction is normally prescribed by engineers as soon as you have unstable soil conditions. 90% of our work is in sand dunes and previous clients report that after 20 years they still have had no cracks in the buildings and therefore little maintenance necessary.

The best natural choice:

It’s a choice that is going to substantially lower your carbon footprint. The worldwide trend towards environmentally compatible products in our daily lives makes Timber an easy choice. Timber is a negative carbon footprint building material. For every m³ of pine at least 1 tonne of carbon is stored in the cellulose of the timber. Trees absorb carbon as they grow and this carbon is locked away when the timber is used for construction – so the more timber you use instead of more energy and carbon costly materials such as masonry and concrete, the lower the carbon footprint of your home.

Of the various readily available raw materials for building, timber has by far the lowest embodied energy, and if grown in a sustainably managed plantation, is a truly renewable building resource

We all need to ask ourselves what the environmental impact was of the material used to build your home?

Your home will last a lifetime:

With modern preservative treatments on all structural timber the lifespan of your home is indefinite. We have stripped old homes built in 1950’s out of untreated wood and they were still fine. There are wooden bridges and churches all over the world 200 years old built with untreated timber. Our structural timber is treated against insects and rotting.

I stay in a home we built over 17 years ago and it is still perfect. Rest assured, your Timber home will grow old with you.

Save costs:

Smaller and independent foundations are required so you have less costs involved on unstable sites. Due to poles being used, no expensive backfilling, strip foundations, reinforced concrete and heavy machinery is required, your foundation cost is minimal compared to conventional concrete foundations on any sloped or sand covered site. There are also cost savings on steeps sites, by using suspended floor structures.

Speed of construction:

Timber frame construction has no wetwork & plastering and takes half to three quarters of the time to build than a conventional brick and mortar home. The average 3 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom house takes 4 months to build from start to moving in. The client gets to be part of his exciting project as his house construction develops every week.

Each piece of wood, with it’s natural grain pattern, is unique and adds real character to your home.

The Timber Frame method of building has an inherent ability to accommodate spaciousness (lofted ceiling areas, bigger free spans).

Liveable area can be increased both vertically and horizontally without the weight and stress confinements of traditional construction.

“As the efforts to curb global warming increase there will be a louder call for more sustainable methods of construction. Given our rapidly developing world in terms of technology; think smartphones and cars; it is also likely that we will want to see the benefits of new technologies incorporated into the homes we build; think lightweight, precision engineered, efficient insulators and moisture barriers. Given a rapidly modernising and fast-paced world, a timber frame home – built from technology, while satisfying sustainability requirements, and at the same time having natural materials providing a relaxing environment and closeness to nature…… may well be the answer.” – (Jacques Cronje’ – Architect & owner – timberdesign.co.za)