Self-build timber-frame homes from the show

Discover more about the benefits of this build method through these inspiring projects.

By Hugh Metcalf | 20 October 2020

There are many reasons to opt for building your own home with a timber frame. Opting for off-site construction offers precision and often a faster build time. It can be an eco-friendly method. Most affordable kit homes are timber frame construction. Often, craftsmanship comes into play.
Many Grand Designers have been motivated by these objectives and have taken one or other of these routes with stunning results. Discover more about the benefits of self-build timber-frame construction through these inspiring projects.

Low-cost family home

When Steph Wilson secured a plot of land on her grandfather’s old farm for a self-build project, she set her heart on an earth shelter-inspired house. But, with the probable cost reaching an unaffordable £500,000, Steph and her husband Alex had to revise their plans. As part of the cost-savings, the couple chose an economical timber-frame build. This helped towards creating a family home with generously-sized living spaces for just £270,000. The build took just 10 months to complete. As the house has a high level of insulation, its running costs will be low.

Exterior of the timber-frame self-build in Leominster with black cladding and barn-style design

The two-storey, three-bedroom house is a small budget success. Photo: Mark Bolton

Sustainable greenbelt house

Builder Paul Rimmer spent his career constructing homes with bricks and mortar. But when it came to building a new home on land opposite the farmhouse he restored, it was time for a different approach. The land was a greenbelt site and Paul was first told he had no chance of gaining planning permission. But approval came in the space of two years thanks to the zero-carbon, self-build timber-frame design.
Stringent building methods and sustainable materials were essential to achieve the super-low carbon emissions. The structure uses 150mm of insulation on every wall with no gaps. Every external wall has a vapour barrier on the inside and a breathable membrane on the outside. Where possible the frame was made by hand on site. It was time-consuming but Paul felt strongly about maintaining the highest quality. The frame itself cost £100,000, less than a quote from a prefabrication company.

Exterior of a two storey house with brick cladding on the ground floor and timber cladding to the first floor.

Living spaces are on the first floor, with bedrooms below. Photo: Andrew Wall

There are many reasons to opt for building your own home with a timber frame. Opting for off-site construction offers precision and often a faster build time. It can be an eco-friendly method. Most affordable kit homes are timber frame construction. Often, craftsmanship comes into play.
Many Grand Designers have been motivated by these objectives and have taken one or other of these routes with stunning results. Discover more about the benefits of self-build timber-frame construction through these inspiring projects.

Low-cost family home

When Steph Wilson secured a plot of land on her grandfather’s old farm for a self-build project, she set her heart on an earth shelter-inspired house. But, with the probable cost reaching an unaffordable £500,000, Steph and her husband Alex had to revise their plans. As part of the cost-savings, the couple chose an economical timber-frame build. This helped towards creating a family home with generously-sized living spaces for just £270,000. The build took just 10 months to complete. As the house has a high level of insulation, its running costs will be low.

Exterior of the timber-frame self-build in Leominster with black cladding and barn-style design

The two-storey, three-bedroom house is a small budget success. Photo: Mark Bolton

Sustainable greenbelt house

Builder Paul Rimmer spent his career constructing homes with bricks and mortar. But when it came to building a new home on land opposite the farmhouse he restored, it was time for a different approach. The land was a greenbelt site and Paul was first told he had no chance of gaining planning permission. But approval came in the space of two years thanks to the zero-carbon, self-build timber-frame design.
Stringent building methods and sustainable materials were essential to achieve the super-low carbon emissions. The structure uses 150mm of insulation on every wall with no gaps. Every external wall has a vapour barrier on the inside and a breathable membrane on the outside. Where possible the frame was made by hand on site. It was time-consuming but Paul felt strongly about maintaining the highest quality. The frame itself cost £100,000, less than a quote from a prefabrication company.

Exterior of a two storey house with brick cladding on the ground floor and timber cladding to the first floor.

Living spaces are on the first floor, with bedrooms below. Photo: Andrew Wall

On a protected site

A Scheduled Ancient Monuments Site, between a cathedral and a river, sat empty at the rear of Chris and Kayo’s home. Beneath the ground lie the remains of a medieval monastery precinct. It was almost inconceivable that someone would gain planning permission to build on the plot. Many tried without success over the years. Chris and Kayo’s triumph was thanks to a design that respects the precious site. A key element of the single-storey structure is the lightweight timber cassette construction. They were chosen to avoid causing any damage to the Medieval treasures beneath.

A putting green stands in the garden of the single-storey house in the grounds of a medieval monastery

Chris is a keen golfer and has a putting green in the garden. Photo: Fiona Walker-Arnott

Watch the episode: South Hertfordshire, 2017

Period cottage extension

Designer-maker Tom Raffield is known for his wooden furniture and lighting creations. He creates them using traditional steam-bending techniques. It’s no surprise then, given his love of wood, that Tom and wife Danie built a self-build timber-frame extension to their Grade-II listed cottage in Cornwall. The frame was erected and the building finished to first-fix stage by the main contractor. The couple took over from then on, using Tom’s signature steam-bending process to create cladding for the building from trees that had fallen in the site’s woodland.

self-build timber-frame extension exterior showing link to adjacent stone cottage

The extension has curving lines that echo Tom’s designs. Photo: Paul Ryan-Goff

Rural solution

Inspiration for the sweeping roof of Mark and Candida Diacono’s house came from the shape of a plough. An appropriate choice for a home in the heart of the Devon countryside. Equally, a self-build timber-frame construction became the obvious choice for the build. ‘It seemed to choose us, suiting the sweeping shape of the roof and our keenness for a high level of insulation. Plus, it worked with our budget,’ said Mark.

Self-build timber-frame farmhouse surrounded by rolling Devon countryside.

A carpet of plants covers the unusually shaped farmhouse roof. Photo: Paul Ryan-Goff

Watch this episode: TV house: A timber-framed farmhouse in Devon
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