Timber frame single-story extensions

Hi group, We're planning on getting a single-story extension on our brick-built 3-bed 1930s semi. The important bit is going out from from the side of the house to extend the kitchen, then depending on budget carrying on further towards the road to put in a small utility and WC, and around the L to take the kitchen lengthways and possibly extend the lounge as well. Budget is up to 25k, so I'm pretty certain we won't be getting all that done!
My DIY and building knowledge is limited to say the least, but from doing some reading and talking to people I'm very interested in timber-framed construction, both for the cost savings and ecologically. From what I read, issues with timber frame come from builders who aren't used to working with it rather than inherent problems with the method itself, so I was wondering if anyone give me any idea how widespread timber frame experience is among builders now? Obviously if I ask someone 'have you done much timber frame work?', chances are he's going to tell me he has if that's what I want to hear :-) I'm in north Merseyside/west Lancs.
We're at the stage of nosing at as many peoples' extensions as possible and getting names of builders, and I'm also interested in hearing about extensions done in a different style to the usual 'bricks and a window' - I really like the look of http://www.carpenteroak.com/traditional/Extensions/D6111J/D6111J.htm for example.
Thanks in advance,
Ben
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Ben wrote:

What's "timber framing" here? If you mean US-style high-quality construction techniques based on a nailgun, twobyfours and wrapping it with enough batts and Tyvek to keep a BCO happy, then any monkey can do this and you get just what you pay for.
If you mean traditional timber framing, with infills that meet modern insulation standards, then you need a _real_ timber framer. There are an increasing number of them around these days, but it's still a specialist trade. A very practical way to build though. Just one of its advantages is the amount of work carried out efficiently in the workshop and the short on-site time to raise the completed frame. That's handy this time of year, for reduced disruption and for less sensitivity to the weather.
These people are friends of mine and are based in Bristol, but it might give you an idea of what you're looking at. http://timber-routes.co.uk /
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Very nice stuff.
I like their portable sawmill as well....
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Andy - I mean the sort where timber replaces the block layer, so you've still got brick on the outside and plasterboard on the inside. Is that the first one you mentioned? I *love* the sort of building in the link you posted, like the Carpenter Oak link I referred to, but I'm still not sure whether it's right for our house or if it's feasible for our budget. I need to have a look for people doing it locally, who could give us a quote.
Phil and Owain - you've also done some nail-head hitting :-) If it's done right then I think it could look great on the house, but we do have to bear in mind the resalability of the house. One of the things I'd like to do is bring a lot more light in than the house currently has, which is why I'm so keen on the glass-heavy designs.
I appreciate the answers - as I said, I'm still at an early stage in this, although we're definitely getting an extension of some sort done. Being a complete beginner, it's very helpful to be able to discuss it with people who think about this sort of thing a lot.
Ben
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Ben wrote:

It's potentially either, but nearly always the first.

Carpenter Oak are well known and their work is well regarded, but you can certainly find competent comparable work more cheaply. Timber choice is another question - larch would be substantially cheaper than oak.
A copy of a few of the homebuilder mags and some web searching will give you a list of framers, hopefully some local ones too.
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Thanks - that's useful advice.
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Ben wrote:

Oh we (collectively) see ! Well, plenty of new houses are built like this, and it would still look the same outside. But if a kitchen, it would be harder to fit wall units into, compared to a block wall (ignoring the pain of the aircrete blocks we all use these days !) I don't know if this comes up at house sale time, since the house + extension will be built we 2 slightly different methods. But if plans are passed etc ... How much cheaper would it really be, a brickie building a single skin and you doing the inside ? Or a brickie just doing 2 skins. With the timber inside you've got all kinds of hassle with vapour barriers etc, when fitting switches and stuff. Might be more hassle than it's worth. But I guess new-builds must be done like this for a reason.

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sm_jamieson wrote:

That's interesting. We'll probably be going for a kitchen from Ikea and I'd have thought that they're used to dealing with timber frame, being Scandinavian and all.
(ignoring the pain of the

I'm going to be doing very little because I'm not confident enough of my abilities - I will be watching as much as I can and asking a lot of dumb questions though. People I've spoken to say that the savings are in labour because it's quicker to put up, and in the foundations because they don't need to be as deep. We'll probably get the foundations dug as if for a 2-story extension anyway though, so that may be moot. I'll ask for quotes for timber and the usual way (what do you call the usual method, btw?) and see how it looks.
Ben
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Ben wrote:

Its more a question of having to put the studs in the correct place for the wall units fixings, and you may not know this at construction time. There are internal buildings boards you could use instead of plasterboard and fix directly to them, but these boards are expensive.

My BCO insists on foundations fit for 2 storeys anyway. In fact they always start with 1 metre depth and work from there. If the whole thing was timber, a shallower slab foundation would be suitable which would be cheaper. However, anything that is "non-standard" in you part of the world will end up being more hassle. "Standard" is bricks or blocks (if rendering) outer, aircrete inner, rockwool fullfill insulation. I thought of various non-standard things on my extension plans (like avoiding the aircrete) and soon found out to go with the flow, or pay up ! Having said that, my roof design was a bit different and I they required struct eng calcs to prove it was OK, since it was not in the tables. I'm about to start work now were are in the new year. Demolition is first. That will be fun. All the best, Simon.
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Ben wrote:

Me too :-p

You've hit the nail on the head there (no pun intended) - most lads who are into this type of thing do housing developments and probably wouldn't touch an extension with a moderatley sized bargepole, and if they did decide to come off a big job to do it, it wouldn't save you anything because they are on a good thing.

The thing is with a 1930's semi, how is it going to look with a timber 'shed' tacked on the side? - this is how it will be viewed by potential buyers, and probably most estate agents, and is the reason why people tend to go for traditional construction - I agree, they do look the part if they are done properly *and* it suits the house, like in the example above, but more often than not, they look horrid, especially when a maintenance regime isn't strictly adhered to.
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Ben wrote:

If you're building an extension on a 1930s brick-built semi the planners are likely to want to adhere to the "bricks and a window" style.
Owain
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Owain wrote:

There are more an more contemporay timber 'box' extensions being allowed on older properties. However, it comes down to design of the scheme as a whole
But the planners really need to come into the 21st century.
dg
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Ben wrote:

If you care about the green issues, then get along to one of the "green building" shows. Framers are popping up at these and plying their wares.
Small framing outfits can be _very_ cost effective (to be honest, they under-charge for their work and live like church mice on brown rice)
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