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Brick & Block Or Timber?

Brick & Block Or Timber?

The modern self-builder has a wealth of choices when it comes to the method of building their new home. Do you choose a block & brick build, a traditional timber, or even a flat pack kit home? There’s so many interesting choices on the market, and each one brings with it pros and cons, depending on the type of building you’re planning and your personal aesthetics.

In general, the honest answer is not which is the best option, but rather, which one suits you and your build best. So, let’s take a look at some of the things to consider if you don’t know whether to choose brick or timber.

The practicalities…

The first aspect to consider is the build itself. Block masonry is considered the more traditional construction of the two and there is therefore arguably a wider accessibility to a workforce familiar with the skills involved. Similarly, the materials are traditionally more readily available, whilst nowadays, there is a longer waiting period for timber framing and it is usually costlier – although conversely, much quicker to assemble. However, you should consider cost in the long term – for example, timber framing often has a superior, more efficient thermal performance. More on cost a little later in this blog..

Despite being thinner, timber retains heat more effectively than brick. On the other hand, it’s no surprise that timber requires more maintenance than brick, being at risk of rotting and vulnerability to fire – however, these days there are such stringent regulations that they are no longer serious problems to consider (and lenders are extremely unlikely to have an issue with a timber framed house).

The Properties…

Each material boasts its own important properties. The durability of brick creates the feeling of strong surroundings, providing stability for built-in furniture and other fixings. Acoustically, a brick frame softens external noise and noise between floors, compared to the more echoing timber structure. You can do a lot to counter this with the correct specification for timber framed homes, but it is an area where the more traditional brick build does win out. However, for many self-builders, the knowledge that they are building with an eco-friendly and carbon neutral element is worth the slightly more echoing rooms!

The Construction…

The construction process of each option also varies enormously; timber framework is more commonly made off-site, which also leads to a quicker build time. A great tip is to get organised and order early because there are now long wait times at timber merchants. One of the huge advantages of choosing timber is that building the frame is not weather dependent. Timber frames can be erected no matter the temperature (one reason why they are incredibly popular in Scotland – as well as easier accessibility to timber – leading to an estimated 70% of Scottish houses now being built this way). In contrast, the brick frame construction is hugely weather-dependent, as masonry needs to be dry to be laid. Building in-situ can also lead to longer construction times. In summary, this aspect of your project really depends on your build – do you have time to build on site, or is it more beneficial to have a ready-constructed timber frame brought to site?

The Look & Aesthetics…

The key to brick or timber frames is that ultimately, they both allow flexibility of design. You can choose different types, colours and sizes of stonework, whether it’s Cotswold stone or red brick, to achieve the look you desire. With timber framing, the space can be carefully designed in a multitude of ways, such as a post and beam structure, allowing you flexibility. Timber is also adaptable to a variety of claddings, giving you options for your dream home.

The Cost…

The situation has changed in recent years in terms of price. Traditionally, the accepted view in the trade has been that brick block is the cheapest option in terms of material cost, but that timber could be sourced more quickly and therefore, the costs over the life of a project pretty much evened out.

That has changed because timber merchants have become extremely busy, creating longer waiting periods – however, over the years, brick has become more expensive! It’s still quite evenly matched, when you consider the whole build, so really this is an area where you need to make a decision based on what you want for your home.

In Summary…

Our advice is to think carefully about your own build, expectations, budget and timescales. There are so many pros and cons with each option, and there’s really no ‘right’ answer. Consider the area, what is in-keeping with neighbouring properties and the local environment. Talk to experts, and understand the properties of local materials and their associated availability and costs.

At Bespoke, we’re passionate about helping our clients create their dream homes. This starts with the design and concept of your project, right from the type of building you want to create. Come in and see us for a chat about your options and we can help you get started.