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Kit Homes: The Advantages of Self Build Houses

Once you decide to go the self-build route, the easy part is done. Now you have to decide where to start. If you need assistance in making your self-build dream a reality, a house package supplier may be the answer.

Like all traditional self builds, you will need to obtain planning before starting work on the site with a kit house, and you must also meet all the required building regulations during and after construction. You will also need a structural warranty, which can be sourced from specialist latent defects insurance companies like CRL.

Types of Kit House

At the ‘no stress no hassle’ end of the spectrum are the companies that handle every step of the process. They can help you with pre-planning, design the home for you, navigate the often-confusing world of planning approval and building regulations, purchase the materials, manage the project, and finally tell you when to move in. If you prefer to remain involved in the project, there are companies that will offer expertise without taking command of the build.

In terms of size, self build kit houses range from small prefabricated structures, which can be delivered to the build site in their completed state to larger and more luxurious homes that are delivered in stages and build on site.

Most timber frame companies will offer four levels of involvement:

1) A complete build
2) Design and manufacture the frame, and supply for self build
3) Design, manufacture, supply, and erect (you are then responsible for finishing and kitting out the house)
4) Either 2) or 3) using customer-supplied architect drawings

Designing the self-build

There are four approaches to the design project. The simplest and least expensive option is to pick a design from a book. Most self-builders, however, want to choose a basic design and then personalize it. Another option is to use a company’s in-house design service to conceive and plan a unique, never-to-be-duplicated home. If a customer wants to use their own architect’s plans, most house package companies will happily take on the project, provided it can be built using the company’s particular method.

Timber frame

This frame type is popular due to its speedy construction, eco-friendly wood, and superior insulation capability. The timber frame is produced in the factory, with the shell erected on the build site in a mere number of days.

Some types of prefabricated timber systems are built to include insulation, windows and doors, quickly available to be crane lifted into position on site.

Oak frame

Oak frames are made in the workshop using traditional building methods such as wooden peg joinery and hand-sawn finishes. Once erected, open beams or a vaulted ceiling display the wood’s beauty and the craftsman’s skill. Insulation and warmth come from the infill panels.

Masonry

Masonry is popular because it enables a sound insulation job, provides the option of installing concrete floors on the upper level, and presents a firm surface for screws and nails. Unlike other forms, a masonry project can accommodate late changes to the design, even structural ones.

Structural insulated panels (SIPs)

SIPs are factory-made and pre-engineered. They have high levels of insulation wedged between the boards and provide a complete structural base that is both easy and efficient to work with.

Insulated concrete formwork (ICF)

With these projects, expanded polystyrene blocks or lightweight panels are fused together and filled with concrete to create solid walls with a high thermal mass. These blocks can be erected quickly and are energy-efficient thanks to a double foam insulated core.

Log houses

Log homes have thick walls that support high thermal mass. The timbers are cut and connected by hand using traditional methods.

These kit homes have several key advantages:

  • Manufacture times are reduced
  • Quality tends to be high
  • Labour and production costs are comparatively lower

Popular Kit Home Manufacturers

German and Swedish companies are the leading providers of kit house solutions, although the UK is catching up fast. Among the better known suppliers are:

  • Huf Haus: German company that provides premium-quality post and beam systems
  • Custom Homes: The UK’s foremost self-build package provider, with added services including advice on plots, design, and construction
  • Potton: Leading UK provider of timber-framed packages
  • Scandia-Hus: Swedish provider of sustainable timber-framed homes
  • WeberHaus: German specialist in self-build timber frames

Whatever provider and package you choose, the self-build route is an extremely satisfying one for those who enjoy having a hand in the construction of their dream home.

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