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Timber-framed Properties – Are they a Good Buy?

Timber-framed properties are thought in some ways to be more eco-friendly than their conventional alternatives. But does that make them a good investment?

Here Paul Anderson, a chartered surveyor based near Ipswich, looks at the pros and cons of this type of building.


What Are They?

Timber-framed properties as the name suggests, generally consist of an insulated timber frame, with an external cladding material such as tiles or timber and a plasterboard internal lining. More recent properties could have an external brickwork or blockwork rendered outer wall or skin and inner cavity.

Many older properties have been built using timber frames, including several historic homes in East Anglia, with oak the commonest choice of wood for the older properties. Many timber-framed barns in the region have been converted into homes.


The Pros

They are ‘Greener’ – during the construction process, timber-framed properties emit far less carbon dioxide than homes which use steel or concrete. A thriving timber industry is also good for the planet, as it encourages the replanting of forests. Younger trees are better than older ones at absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere.

The low thermal mass of wood means timber-framed properties heat up more quickly than homes of masonry construction, so you can save on your fuel bills as well as reducing your carbon footprint.

They Have Plenty of Character – many homeowners prefer the aesthetics of exposed oak beams – which are commonly found in older properties such as thatched cottages – to masonry walls. This is often reflected in higher prices asked by estate agents when these properties come on the market.

Being Built to Order – New-build timber-framed properties take a lot less time to construct than a more conventional new-build. All the timber frames can be put together off-site in a factory (although on-site is still an option). Once up, the internal work can be started straight away, producing further time and cost savings.


The Cons

Problems with Insurance and Mortgages – You may find it is more difficult to get a mortgage or home insurance on a timber-framed property. This is because it is classified as being of ‘non-standard construction’ – that is, not of brick, concrete or masonry – and so some lenders may be unwilling to offer you a loan.

If you are looking at buying a new-build property, you shouldn’t have any issues insuring it, but many of the standard comparison websites will not be able to provide a quote, so you may need to use a specialist home insurance provider.

Problems with Waterproofing – timber can warp over time, can be a problem in ‘wet’ rooms, such as bathrooms and shower rooms. It can cause the tiles to  crack, allowing moisture to seep through to the timber frames and cause decay, compromising the structural integrity of the building.

Problems with Insects – timber-framed homes may be more vulnerable to attack by woodworm, and dry rot, even if the wood has been pre-treated with a modern wood preservative.

Problems with the Acoustics – timber has poorer sound insulation qualities than masonry. This is not so much of a problem with modern properties, as the construction methods for sound (and thermal insulation levels for that matter) must comply with the far more strict current minimum standards for Building Regulations.

However, older properties are unlikely to meet these minimum standards and may require substantial costly upgrading to prevent issues with noise and higher heat loss due to lack of adequate insulation.


Full Surveys from Anderson Associates

Paul Anderson, founder and director or Anderson Associates, is an independent chartered surveyor based in Ipswich with more than three decades’ worth of experience in the industry. As a result, Anderson Associates can offer surveys on all types of properties - including ones with timber frames - in Suffolk, Essex, and parts of Kent and London.

If you are buying any type of home, we usually recommend our full building surveys, as fees are not significantly more than a Home Buyer’s Survey.

However, with our building survey a cost summary is included, which not only advised you on what repair and maintenance issues the property has but also gives an indication as to the cost of these repairs. Not all building surveys include this and would not be included in a Homebuyer survey.

If you would like to know more about any of the services we offer, you can reach us on 01473 623656.


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Whether you need a simple valuation or a full structural survey as well as being expert building surveyors we’re happy to give you free, impartial advice on anything to do with buildings and property.
Anderson Associates
(Head Office & Correspondence Address)
Warneford House, Portal Avenue
Martlesham Heath, Ipswich
Suffolk IP5 3QY
T. 01473 623 656
T. 0800 652 8285
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Registered Office: Anderson Associates (Surveying) Ltd. | Warneford House, Portal Avenue, Martlesham Heath, Ipswich, Suffolk IP5 3QY
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