The real difference between timber frame and brick and block house construction

If you’re planning to buy a new home, you want to know it’s going to be of the safest, highest quality construction and that it’s going to stand the test of time.

 Timber frame construction is already the method of choice of Americans, Canadians and Scandinavians, but why? We looked at the two most popular styles of house building and busted a few myths along the way.

Timber framed buildings are faster to construct.

 True. Typically, the timber frame building process is far quicker than the traditional brick and block construction method as the frame can be assembled and erected by skilled carpenters in days rather than the weeks demanded by block work contractors. That speed of construction, which isn’t weather-dependent for production, means other trades, such as electricians and plumbers, can get to work inside a dry, watertight building that might well be skinned to protect it – and that can save weeks on an average house build.  However, the design and prefabrication of a timber frame building will often call for a lengthier pre-build process.

Is brick and block more durable?

 Just think of those picturesque timber framed buildings from the Tudor period that you see dotted around quaint villages across the country and you’ll realise that timber can give centuries of reliability. You can disregard the concerns of rot and damp too; modern timbers for house building are well treated against both and modern heated homes won’t have a high enough moisture content to attract wet rot, the commonest form of fungal attack. Without the warmth and dampness rot needs to take hold, timber frame buildings are highly unlikely to suffer from the problem.

Which method offers better protection against fire?

 There’s a common misconception that brick and block construction will provide a far greater fire resistance than a combustible timber built home. However, in practice, there’s virtually no difference between the two methods when you consider factors such as the building’s smoke alarms, occupants who smoke and flammable furnishings. A substantial part of a masonry home, including the floors, ceilings and wall studwork, will usually be built using timber and these beams will still be robust and will char long before they fail. In the event of a fire, masonry and steel materials will disintegrate and crumble if the temperatures are sufficiently high.

Will my heating bills be higher in a timber frame home?

 If your home is built from bricks and blocks, they’ll absorb the heat in the hot weather, keeping you cool in the day and they’ll absorb the temperature produced from your central heating in winter to keep you warm. But, this means you’ll need to heat the house first to get it to your desired temperature. Timber doesn’t need to rely on this heat soaking process, so your temperature will be more even and economical, especially since the airtightness is far superior than on a traditional build – and that means thermal properties are enhanced throughout the property. It’s worth noting that either method of construction will call for the same stringent building standards for thermal insulation so your central heating thermometer and lifestyle will ultimately play its part when it comes to your heating bills.

What about the noise in a timber frame building?

 It’s a myth that timber is a poor acoustic insulator; building regulations that call for reduced sound transmission apply to either method of construction and all homes must meet the same criteria. According to research carried out by Napier University, ‘timber frame party walls are the best performing in the industry — for current and future regulations…If all dwellings had sound insulation as good as that measured in party walls of timber frame homes, the problems of noise from neighbours would be greatly reduced.’

Timber is more environmentally friendly.

 This is certainly true. Since the trees that are felled for timbers absorb carbon while they’re growing, the carbon remains locked with the structure of the frame. Builders who are using timbers from sustainable sources are relying on fewer carbon dioxide (CO2) producing activities as well so they’re actually helping to remove CO2 from the environment and playing their part in combatting the effects of global warming.

Can I still get a mortgage on a timber framed house?

 Of course! Lenders won’t discriminate against either building method as long as they’ve been built to the Government’s building standards that guarantee quality of construction.

 So, if you’re considering your next move, why not take a closer look at a timber framed house; it’s a building method that’s helping buyers move into new, long-lasting homes quicker, offering them valuable cost savings and ensuring they’re doing their bit to save the planet too.


Highwood Homes’ North Stoneham Park new development at Eastleigh near Southampton will be building all homes in timber frame – you can find out more at