If you’re thinking of building your own home or you’re a small developer starting out, there are different methods of construction to consider. We’re here to help you explore the four core options. Each technique will impact the design, cost, energy efficiency and maintenance of your home or development. When deciding which one is the best fit for you, we’d recommend taking the time to reflect on the long-term sustainability – especially when it comes to up-front costs and those that will last a lifetime.
There isn’t a right or wrong way and there are pros and cons for each. We’ve written this short guide to help you decide.
Traditional Method of Construction
‘Brick and block’ masonry construction has been used for centuries to build structures and is the accepted norm. It’s a step-by-step approach – so, you’ll lay your foundations, build your walls and floors, and install your roof – and then create the interior until your development is finished. Unlike modular construction methods, the whole build is completed on site using a linear approach.
Most houses tend to be built using traditional methods of construction because it’s an easy way to build and cost effective. It also allows you to make late changes to the design if you need to, without too much major disruption. With a modular construction, once you’ve signed off the design, you’re committed.
Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)
SIPs or timber-based construction as it’s also known, is appealing to a growing number of people. It’s understandable really – as a building system, it’s strong and sustainable and an energy efficient way to build. SIPs are ideal for residential and light commercial structures. The panels are made up of an insulating foam core which is sandwiched between two timber structural claddings and finished on the outside to any specification. Unless you saw it being built, once complete, you wouldn’t be able to tell it was a SIP system. This method is more expensive than traditional masonry.
Unlike traditional methods of construction though, SIPs are manufactured offsite and slotted together like a giant jigsaw puzzle on-site. Once you’ve agreed the design – you’re committed. Any changes are likely to be expensive. Some smaller construction sites are moving towards SIPs, because they’re quicker to build, which means they get an earlier return on their investment. Plus, they reduce costs on site as there are fewer labour overheads.
Insulated Concrete Formwork ICF
Think of ICF as a hollow polystyrene Lego system. You slot everything together with plastic or steel ties and then pour concrete into it which forms the walls. Once the concrete has cured, it becomes a strong frame structure with the polystyrene formwork staying in place. It’s ideal for basement works too.
It can be an expensive way to build, but in the long run, very energy efficient. So if this is going to be your forever home, or you’re looking to develop an eco-friendly house – this may be the ideal option. ICF is an insitu concrete build and once you’re completely happy with your design, it’s quick to construct. Like SIPs, making changes can be difficult with this method of construction. ICF offers impressive levels of performance though. You can be super-creative with your design – it’s perfect for complex and curved structures. Sound proofing, air tightness and high-thermal values comes as standard and it’s a robust and all-weather construction system. One to consider. Again, this can be completed with any external finish.
Steel Framed Structure
Sometimes, residential properties are constructed out of steel. You’ll usually see these on big spans – so buildings with overhanging sections such as the roof, or vast expanses of glazing. When you look at a building and reflect how the design was possible – it’s most likely a steel framed structure. Steel is ideal for one-off big builds and most often used in commercial construction.
A bit like SIPs and ICFs, you need to be completely sure of your design. Any alterations could mean your project being held up while the framework is modified. Structural steel components are manufactured off-site and then moved to site when you need it, minimising on-site labour and cost. Steel is strong and durable and the perfect solution to certain builds.
So that’s a whistle-stop tour of the four main methods of build.
We’re experienced in all areas. Generally though, most of our clients opt for the traditional build route. if you’re a small developer starting out, or looking to build your own home and would lie to discuss these options more fully, please get in touch with the Enrok Team.
As always, we’re here to help.