Timber and steel frames versus bricks

J

johnheritage

Why do the guys in the US build so much using timber frames and we use bricks?

Those guys will do the entire house structure from timber and then use stud walls all through. This seems to make them extremely cheap and it's very easy to run services through the walls (vacuums / ethernets / waste pipes / air conditioning blah blah). Insulation can be blown into the stud work in no time and they often pressure test the finished result for leaks. If you don't like something where it is, it doesn't take long (or much effort) to take down and reframe a new wall. There are the rail based framing systems that make that even easier.

I'm curious if this is just tradition or if there's some other reason.

I also know steel frames are used extensively by commercial builders for warehouses - where it can be as simple as solid blocking up 10ft or so and then just the frame with some siding on; as it's not a living space. But I've seen them being used for other projects with insulation going in.

As the economy takes a blasting, and house prices are mind blowingly high, this seems interesting to me. I did see an episode of grand designs at one point in which the guys had bought an entire custom timber kit from one of the places in the US.

I know brickwork gives a more secure feel, but it's a bugger to lay the things and an even bigger bugger to make changes to it. So, why is it the only method we seem to use?

I would recommend a read of this article, as this is what I'm also wondering about and it seems easier to achieve using the frame methods;

Passivhaus

^^^^Forgetting the tree hugging implications and going for the money, !90%! less heat required to keep the thing warm, so that's 90% off each gas bill for a start, as the fossil fuels run out and the carbon tax goes on. Free, clean air in every room because the heating is done through an AC unit (venting to outside through a heat exchanger).
 
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J

johnheritage

Ahhhh yes.... :D

There is a funny article on wiki all about the timber wars between Canada and the US, I like it if only for the picture of them log driving;

Canada softwood lumber dispute

I've been to Carolina. At one point, I went out into 'the yard' as they'd call it, threw a spade at 'the soil' and the thing bounced back off. But our back garden has so much clay in it a builder thought it was concrete when it dried out in the summer.

(VIDEO)Public enemy number one for Greenpeace (VIDEO) <------------ this is a sure fire way to upset an environmentalist

Then toss it all in there
 
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People in N.America, like new homes.
Build them quick & cheap, knock down & rebuild.
When I was in Canada a few years ago I was amazed at how quick they throw them up & these are so called luxury homes.
 
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The majority of homes in the so called western world are timber framed. The obvious drawback is of course fire.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-12013133

I did a job for a firefighter who was a fire investigation officer, he recommended against buying a timber framed house, purely because that in many incidents it is discovered that firestopping procedures had not been followed during construction.
Shoddy workmanship, and alterations that hadn't taken fireproofing into account prevent fires from being contained.

I would take this advice onboard for terraced and other 'joined up' properties but if self-building a detached property I would probably go with timber framed personally.

Also note that plenty of timber framed building have a brick exterior, but this is simply a weatherproof outer shell and not actually part of the structure. I've seen quite a few new builds go up in my area that look like trad brick construction once finished.
 
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Having never lived in a timber frame house i can not comment but i wonder how well they perform regards noise etc?

I have built an extension on a couple and i have to say, removal of any of the internal sheathed walls is bloody hard work!
 
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I think the yanks build the simple way, because they are so simple. ;)
 
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A lot of timber framed buildings here in NI but usually faced with blocks, bricks or stone.
Very easy to heat I'm told.
 
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I`ve always thought the reason we use masonry inner/outer skin is because our little island has a predominately moist atmosphere. Most of our winds come off the atlantic ocean but america is so vast a land mass, the air is a lot drier? Regards JohnC.
 
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Most UK buildings were timber-framed until brick became fashionable (and cheap) in the 1700's and forrests were cut down for war and industry. Otherwise, the material of choice was whatever was local. Look around and you can see where different villages have been built from local quarries, or when forests were cut down, clay pits were used to make local bricks. In the US, timber is more prevalent

Today, UK people expect houses to be made of brick and that is the sole reason why timber frames houses are clad in brick. There is nothing stopping builders from using other cladding material, and we are seeing more use of cedar and larch cladding along with coloured render as fashion changes

In the UK we have a damper climate than the US, and whilst the US may get more extremes of hot and cold, it is persistent dampness which causes problems with timber frames. So the quality and specification is more critical and less forgiving of mistakes

Also, timber frame is predominately for single houses or flats within a single unit. If you look at the UK stock, most of ours are terraced or otherwise attached. In the US, most of their cities homes are brick too, and it is only the detached estates where timber is more prevalent.

The little fire in London in 1666, more or less dictated brick or stone as the preferred construct material for England too.

Otherwise, the material of choice was whatever was/is local

As for steel frames, there are not very suitable for domestic use due to the moisture production and potential for condensation and corrosion. Another factor nowadays is higher cost not only in the steel sections, but in the associated fiddly work in encasing the frame

The big (possibly only) disadvantage in any sort of framed construction is that they are harder to adapt/extend and that damage to the frame is harder and more extensive/expensive to repair
 

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