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Timber frame construction versus traditional construction.

As Novobuild SW Ltd, we specialise in timber frame construction, even though we do have qualified bricklayers as part of our company. So, we thought it might be of interest to explain the pros and cons of both timber frame and traditional construction styles, which may go as part way as to explain why we choose timber frame our our "go to " method.

Timber frame construction and traditional construction are two distinct methods used within building industry. Each one has its own set of characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages. Here's a comparison of the two:

Timber Frame Construction:

1.    Structural System:

  • Primary Structure: Relies on a framework of large wooden timbers for structural support.

  • Secondary Structure: Typically uses panels or boards for enclosing the frame.

2.    Construction Process:

  • Prefabrication: Components are often prefabricated off-site, leading to faster on-site assembly.

  • Speed: Generally quicker to construct compared to traditional methods.

3.    Energy Efficiency:

  • Thermal Performance: Timber has natural insulation properties, contributing to good thermal performance.

4.    Design Flexibility:

  • Open Spaces: Allows for large, open spaces due to the ability to span long distances with timber beams. This open space design, seems to be the direction most builds go at present.

5.    Environmental Impact:

  • Renewable Material: Timber is a renewable resource, making it an environmentally friendly choice.

6.    Cost:

  • Varies: Costs can vary based on factors like timber type, design complexity, and location. However, timber framing can often be put together quicker, reducing labour costs.

Traditional Construction:

1.    Structural System:

  • Primary Structure: Uses a variety of materials like brick, concrete, or stone for load-bearing walls.

  • Secondary Structure: Often employs wooden or steel joists and rafters.

2.    Construction Process:

  • On-Site: Construction components are typically assembled on-site, which may take more time compared to prefabricated elements, thus increasing labour costs.

3.    Energy Efficiency:

  • Insulation: Requires additional insulation materials to meet modern energy efficiency standards.

4.    Design Flexibility:

  • Load-Bearing Walls: Limited flexibility due to load-bearing walls, which may limit open space design.

5.    Environmental Impact:

  • Varied: Depends on the materials used; some traditional materials may have a higher environmental impact.

6.    Cost:

  • Varies: Costs depend on the choice of materials and labor, and can sometimes be influenced by regional availability.


1.    Aesthetics and Tradition:

  • Timber frame construction may be chosen for its aesthetic appeal and traditional charm.

2.    Time and Speed:

  • Timber frame construction often offers faster construction times, which may be a crucial factor in some projects.

3.    Budget Constraints:

  • The budget may play a significant role, as costs can vary based on factors like material choices and design complexity.

4.    Regulations and Codes:

  • Local building codes, regulations and planning may influence the choice between timber frame and traditional construction methods.

Ultimately, the choice between timber frame and traditional construction depends on the specific requirements for the project, budget, and preferences of the project customers/designers. Each method has its merits, and the decision should be made based on a careful consideration of the project's unique needs and constraints. However, usually using traditional construction methods, this would require a larger budget.

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