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  1. Is it that much? Sorry, I'm not a member and don't have access. I've always come across their Wood Information Sheets on Google when checking bits and pieces but only ever seen the freely available info which is always really good. My understanding is that a lot of the good timber frame suppliers are members so if you are friendly with one of them... probably a very long shot unless any forum readers are members.
  2. TRADA produce loads of this type of information. You need to be a member to access it though. Link below -
  3. CLT is a fantastic product and is slowly gaining traction across larger developments as a sustainable alternative to mass RC concrete frame (or at least was until the Hackett Review). It's in larger buildings and blocks of flats where most of the advantages shine, because it performs in a similar way to concrete in many respects, whilst having the advantages of prefabrication and locking up significant embodied energy. So advantages against traditional timber frame include the ability to build much higher structures up to 12 stories or more, dimensional stability, better fire and acoustic performance. Also the ability to leave certain elements of the structure exposed for the design effect of exposed timber (eg. CLT stairs and walls etc). It's a dream for architects to work with. Definitely has draw backs as well as others have said above. Traditional timber frame is a more efficient way of building with better strength to weight ratio - so much cheaper to buy and transport materials. Getting suppliers for a single CLT house would be difficult or expensive I'd have thought. Timber frame can also be improved by using engineered timber, added mass, acoustic design etc and will still be much cheaper than CLT. Just on your point about acoustics, I wouldn't assume that bare CLT walls or floors will prevent sound transmission without lots of added layering either. You can look up standard details by googling it, but there were quite a few issues on early CLT residential blocks. Wood has less mass than concrete of the same thickness and so needs some help to prevent sound. Go for it if you like the material - send Buildhub some pictures of your finished house, it will be stunning!
  4. The Richmond House fire is interesting and concerning as well. This article corrects one of the myths about the fire - the external cladding wasn't timber, it was "Fibre reinforced Portland cement cladding planking" of limited flammability. The article says that there was no evidence of vertical or horizontal fire stopping to the cavity, but that it was thought to comply with the letter of the regulations. I think I've also read (although I can't find the link now), that the insulation between the studs was mineral wool. It suggests to me that the fire started in one of the flats and spread out and up the cavity. Sprinklers may have helped to contain it (or may not have). My job is as a Development Manager for similar blocks of affordable housing and you wonder whether specifying Rockwool over mineral (glass) wool would have acted to prevent the spread of fire through the timber frame. Or specifying a fire resistant vapour barrier, breather membrane, or racking board But it all adds cost...
  5. A few companies that I've heard of but not used. Well, except for building a shed base from Hanson Regen mixed cement but that's not really comparable. I've seen up to 50% GGBS specified on larger projects but with a structural engineers input. According to Hanson you can substitute as much as 70%. They have a UK technical line. Sorry, can't help with costs.
  6. I looked at something similar to this for our extension and I believe you are able to build a single skin block wall with an insulated render or brick slip carry system. There are rules around the slenderness of masonry walls so you need to use a 215 block I think. As for cost, not sure to be honest. Brick slips can be more expensive than brickwork. On the other hand you would get a thinner wall build up and less potential quality issues with the cavity / insulation continuity. You can have the brick slip panels prefabricated off-site as well though this may increase cost. Plenty of contractors and developers use something similar but mostly for retro-fit work.
  7. Just to add some benefits of smart meters for the sake of balance - they enable remote meter reading which cuts down the likelihood of errors, especially for more vulnerable people who won't spot the mistake; they allow people to see how much energy they have used and to tailor consumption accordingly; it's a tool to help change behaviour and to enable consumers to save money and understand energy usage; more than anything the smart meter roll-out is helping towards energy efficiency and so climate change. The current generation may not be perfect but there are significant benefits in a national roll-out and even more so in older houses where landlords or owners have already insulated the loft and won't consider more radical measures. My experience is that (when they work) they do succeed in getting people to save energy. My Mum is paranoid about her smart meter, measures out the amount of water in the kettle before putting it on. On the older district heating schemes there were no heating controls for individual flats and the result is people leaving radiators on all the time, even in summer. Sorry if this is a little off-topic from the OP, but lots of people read this forum and it would be a shame if they were put off smart meter installations.
  8. Belt and braces would be to locate a VCL behind the insulated plasterboard, but manufacturers seem to accept that the integrated VCL provides enough protection without further sealing. 2 coats of Gyproc Drywall Sealer provides vapour resistance to the plasterboard when it is edge sealed with sealant or foam.
  9. Thanks for all of the responses. I definitely haven't ruled out instructing our architect because there will be a number of drawings needed and I don't have the skills - question is whether I would trust a builder to do it... maybe. The modular extension / garden room companies actually have excellent in-house design teams but our project seems to be a little more complex than most are interested in. Getting a BCO and a structural engineer appointed seems to be the logical next steps and then I'll make a final decision on whether we can do it on notice or by a full plans application. Peter - we are building on the outskirts of London (£££...) Where is your approved inspector based? Jeremy - I am mega impressed with your construction details. Do you have a design background or were you using a software package to produce them?
  10. Thanks for this advice - I thought that I was going crazy because reading through it all seemed to apply to separating walls with occupants on the other side. So non-separating external walls don't have to demonstrate a minimum standard
  11. Good idea having a practice run first so to speak. Is your architect appointed to be a contract administrator as well? This is a separate service from design (a form of project management) and most professionals would charge significant fees. In return you should get regular, managed site meetings and an element of quality control and sign off on the payments. Depending on your trust in the builder you may not feel that you need this level of service on £15k of works.
  12. That's very good advice from Ferdinand - especially around prioritising good ventilation and acoustics - get those two right and you knock out 50% of complaints straight away. Allowing pets is more of a gamble, fine with considerate owners but I've seen some horror houses chewed up by dogs as well (plus neighbour considerations etc).
  13. MAB - Thanks for posting, can you provide any further information on why this system was chosen (was it cost effective for example)? Just a couple of thoughts that I had - why did you decide to insulate internally rather than externally? Did you or your builder use thin joint? Final question was whether you had any issues with Part E (resistance to the passage of sound)? I can't work out if I am interpreting the regs wrong, but Celcon haven't been able to give an acoustic detail for an external wall (not sure if these are even needed).
  14. They are not hard but the terminology can be a little daunting to begin with. JCT Homeowner Contract 2016 could be a good starting point for you. For smaller projects there is always going to be a balance between how far you go with due diligence - sounds like you already have a professional architect on board which is a good first step. Having a detailed scope of work, accurate drawings and a simple contract (which includes payment terms) are all useful ways of protecting yourself. Common sense and human decency go a long way as well in my experience. For larger, more complex projects we would look at things like contractor solvency, references, insurance (site, public liability etc), performance bonds and retention. This is likely overkill for your proposals and I am finding the same on my extension - the risk is spending more on professional fees as a percentage of work than you get back in value. If you are interested in further reading then the RICS Construction Project Managers Pocket Book is very comprehensive, alternatively Mark Brinkley's "House builders Bible" is a great accessible read.