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Thinking outside of the box. Foundations and Timber Frame Construction

Just as we have highlighted previously, that ‘traditional’ building methods such as bricks and mortar are no longer the industry go-to in the UK because of the environmental aspects involved. In terms of building foundations, the standard trench foundation that most people associate with housebuilding are also not the only type available.

Getting the right advice is crucial to controlling your budget and maximising the potential of your project.

In short, the main purpose of foundations/groundworks is to create a solid base for your building to go onto. These need to be stable, and even a lighter weight Timber Frame housing need to be securely fixed into the foundations in order to prevent movement. Unexpected ground working issues can eat into a budget and drag out a project for months, not to mention the disruption this would cause to trades and deliveries of materials.

Three main causes of groundwork issues are sloping sites, the proximity and/or presence of trees, and ‘bad ground’.

There is a reason that plots with flat, dry land sell for a premium. It’s easier.

At Bentley Timber Frames we get approached with a variety of different projects; holiday homes, flats, housing estates, local authority housing, bespoke luxury builds and extensions to name a few. We don’t just apply a one-size-fits-all approach, instead we look at what the most cost effective and efficient construction method will be for the client, and we work with a wider team of experts who are all highly experienced in non-standard engineering methods. We also love a challenge!

Common types (but not limited to) of foundations that we can use for Timber Frame Construction

· Trench – As most people will be familiar with, this method consists of digging out trenches up to 2 meters deep and then filling with concrete to make a solid base.

Good for flat land, with little to no clearing of large trees, and a low risk of flooding. It is easy to overcome some issues by making the trenches wider for example and it’s a technique that most contractors will be familiar with in the UK.

· Piler - Piles are concrete columns drilled deep into hard bedrock by mini-boring machines to securely anchor the building, aided by frictional resistance from the surrounding ground. Since planners now encourage the development of brownfield land and the retention of trees this method has become the second most common foundation method in the UK.

Good for unstable clay soils, areas where trees are under protection, hilly terrain, previous mining activity. The list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, but this method is a very low carbon way of avoiding unforeseen issues once you start groundworks.

Once your foundations are in place, the building can start to take shape! What could be easier than erecting a timber frame structure on top

  1. Delivery arrives when the client requires it, with all walls, window and door spaces pre-installed and to the specific specifications requested,

  2. Insulation installed if required,

  3. Less carbon impact, low U values, less mess, no delays.

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