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01-02-2021, 15:00   #1
seenn00J
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Timber frame house

Hi, I'm considering purchasing a 4-bed semi D family home in the next 6 months. There's an estate we like but the houses are all timber frame construction (built circa 5 years ago) as opposed to brick. As this will hopefully be our "forever" home, that we can pass onto our children in the future, (and that we would be paying over 400k for) I've read some things online that concern me such as the timber frame manufacturers guarantee can be as low as 10-15 years and the expected lifespan for softwood timber frame is just 25-30 years? Also read that there aren't many examples in UK/Ireland of timber frame houses older than 40 years to get an idea of the long-term viability, etc compared to brick. Thinking also about timber rot, Ireland's damp climate, etc.

I know there are advantages like sound and heat insulation but I'm starting to wonder if we should play it safe and buy an older concrete block constructed property and upgrade the insulation?

Thanks.

Last edited by seenn00J; 01-02-2021 at 15:03.
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01-02-2021, 15:03   #2
grayzer75
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seenn00J View Post
Hi, I'm considering purchasing a 4-bed semi D family home in the next 6 months. There's an estate we like but the houses are all timber frame construction (built circa 5 years ago) as opposed to brick. As this will hopefully be our "forever" home, that we can pass onto our children in the future, (and that we would be paying over 400k for) I've read some things online that concern me such as the timber frame manufacturers guarantee can be as low as 10-15 years and the expected lifespan for softwood timber frame is just 25-30 years? Also read that there aren't many examples in UK/Ireland of timber frame houses older than 40 years to get an idea of the long-term viability, etc compared to block.

I know there are advantages like sound and heat insulation but I'm starting to wonder if we should play it safe and buy an older concrete block constructed property and upgrade the insulation?

Thanks.
I'm in a timber frame house 17 years now and my brother is in one for 25 years and we've had no issues so far.

Have a look at the history and reputation of the builder / developer and if they stand in good stead it shouldn't be an issue really.
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01-02-2021, 15:14   #3
seenn00J
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Thanks for that, I don't envisage any problems with this type of construction in the shor term - I'm thinking more long-term like 30-40 years. I know other countries have used timber frame for much longer than that but they have very different climates to Ireland (E.g. Scandinavia). Probably overthinking this but I just don't want to spend 25-30 years paying off a mortgage to have a worthless (or significantly devalued) asset to pass onto my children at the end.
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01-02-2021, 15:22   #4
grayzer75
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Originally Posted by seenn00J View Post
Thanks for that, I don't envisage any problems with this type of construction in the shor term - I'm thinking more long-term like 30-40 years. I know other countries have used timber frame for much longer than that but they have very different climates to Ireland (E.g. Scandinavia). Probably overthinking this but I just don't want to spend 25-30 years paying off a mortgage to have a worthless (or significantly devalued) asset to pass onto my children at the end.
Fully understandable but on the flip side you'll do well to get any house guaranteed for more than 10-15 years anyway.
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01-02-2021, 15:23   #5
thegills
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Sound will be an issue in years to come as will moisture and insulation. Lots of echos and noises and wood expands and contracts unlike concrete
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01-02-2021, 15:34   #6
RandRuns
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The oldest timber frame house I know of in Ireland is nearly 50 years old, and is in very good condition (a friend of mine bought it and asked me to check it over for him) - however, he was told by his bank that it was likely to be unmortgageable due to its age, wheras a block house wouldn't be (made no difference to him, he was buying for cash anyway, he just checked out of curiosity).
There are some local authorities that won't accept timber frame houses for social housing, as they have minimum warranty periods that the main timber frame companies here won't meet.

In my experience, I would have no hesitation in buying a timber frame house. They have the advantage for a developer in being slightly cheaper to remodel, though the modern ones need far more care to avoid detroying the air-tightness than a comparable block or ICF house.

The likelihood is, if passing on to your children, the mortageability aspect won't matter, it'll be easier for them to remodel, and chances are by then the site will be worth far more than what's on it anyway, so they can demolish and rebuild if they wish.

One thing to keep in mind if you are in an area that may be someday subject to flooding - timber frame doesn't like being flooded at all - I know of a timber frame development that had to have several houses demolished after a freak flooding event a couple of years ago.
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01-02-2021, 15:38   #7
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There advantages and disadvantages to both types of construction to be honest. But such issues come down to preference and your lifestyle, ie Timber frame house will heat up much quicker whereas a block build house will heat up slower but hold the heat longer. If you are out all day at work and turn on the heat in the evening then timber frame works in your favour if you are a stay at home mum then maybe not. Have a good google into it but realistiacally its six of one, half dozen of the other.

Yes as mentioned alot comes down to workmanship but that applies to both. I've lived in both and to be honest I wouldnt be put off either.

Quote:
Sound will be an issue in years to come as will moisture and insulation.
Not really sure what this means as the levels of sound insulation / thermal insulation / and moisture protection are installed, these materials dont 'degrade' over time so how these would be an issue in years to come if they are not an issue now I dont know.

Any house properly maintained will last a very very long time. Ireland's climate is not particularity unique in any way. Gurentees aside, theres no way anyone would buy a house with a 20-25 year life span on its major elements of structure (considering most mortgages are 30-35 years theres no way a bank would lend on it if that were the case!!)
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01-02-2021, 16:43   #8
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in the last estate I lived in the final phase (long delayed due to the 2008 crash) was timber built. I talked to 4 of the new neighbors and all were unimpressed. They all felt the house was noisy and creaky. Very so it windy or warm weather. One guy said the creaking and cracking of the joints used to wake him up. But I was in one for about 6 hours and didnt notice anything.

All felt the sound insulation wasnt great. One said he was driven mad by the constant hum of the heat pump. Whether any of that was really the fault of the timber frame though im not sure. Our brick house in the same developement didnt have great sound insulation either.

One thing though that occurred to me was that I have seen several roofs having to be repaired or replaced in houses. one in our current estate due to water ingress into the attic that wasnt noticed and the houses are only 20 years old. I know the preservative/biocide they use in construction timber doesnt last forever. so what do you do if there is a rot issue and its the whole frame of the house?
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01-02-2021, 16:43   #9
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Gurentees aside, theres no way anyone would buy a house with a 20-25 year life span on its major elements of structure (considering most mortgages are 30-35 years theres no way a bank would lend on it if that were the case!!)
And more importantly, there would be no insurance companies offering quotes for timber frame houses or they would be way more expensive than brick ones, which is not the case.
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01-02-2021, 16:48   #10
RandRuns
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One said he was driven mad by the constant hum of the heat pump. Whether any of that was really the fault of the timber frame though im not sure.
It's critical in any house, but especially timber frame that any plant that can transmit vibration into the timber is suitably isolated - I've seen pressure pumps mounted directly on joists, and heatpumps in contact with the stairs, and this causes considerable sound transfer throughout the house. This is not the fault of the timber frame construction however, but is down to poor workmanship on the part of the installers.
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01-02-2021, 17:03   #11
awec
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Timber frame generally means that the house structure was built in a factory somewhere and it's just assembled on site like a big 3d jigsaw.

The points about noise, sound insulation, creakiness etc can and do apply to block build as well. You can have block built houses where all internal structures are timber (floors, walls). Pretty common for modern developments.
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01-02-2021, 22:10   #12
on_the_roots
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You can have block built houses where all internal structures are timber (floors, walls). Pretty common for modern developments.
I would say pretty much 100% of new houses nowadays and the vast majority of ones built in the last 60 years are this mix, external bricks (for resistance and greater durability) and internal timber frame (to provide quick heating and reduce building costs).
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