One of the many benefits in building a Timber Frame home is the quality control an off-site manufactured dwelling can offer to both self-builders and constructors.
The brief on this particular site was to reproduce a modern, well insulated energy efficient building with all mod cons on the inside but to give it an aspect of over 200 years old on the outside.
This finish is very typical in the north of Spain and this challenge was planned beforehand so certain designs could be incorporated into the frame. This was the first SupaHome house supplied by Maple Timber Frame to be erected in this country and this product was complimented with the use of Andersen’s energy efficient windows and doors which helped to eliminate the need for central heating and air conditioning. A huge running cost saving for any household.
The slide presentation on his build has 197 separate slides all complete with relevant explanations of each stage from excavation of footings, buildup of foundations, delivery and erection of Timber Frame structure through to external and internal finishings along with a time pattern typical in the construction of a house of this nature.
Many people ask about the cost of a building of this type. That is a very difficult question to answer. In Spain the square meter price has always been king. One of the problems here though is, if the price is for living space built or actual built square meters. Our answer to this question is that we can provide a fixed costing on any project that has been approved by the local architect’s official body and local council permissions are in place.
A house is as individual as the people who will eventually live there and clients do wish to chop and change as the build progresses Eliminating these costly changes is a priority we pride ourselves on as a quick execution of a build saves the client money which can be reinvested into the building or not.
It’s worth noting here that a supply only to Spain is out of the question. Our suppliers all give certificates and guarantees on their products but it is important that these are signed off by a relevant person on the ground in Spain. We always insist on the frame erection being carried out by experienced in company crews. This control also applies to all fixing and fittings inside the house along with all exterior and interior finishing. A major stumbling block with timber frame in this country is the lack of knowledge about the system. You cannot leave installers in a house and expect them to do their job correctly as they are not used to the system and they can do more harm than good. These installers need to be trained correctly and eliminating mistakes here is so important as you end up with a quicker and a correct build.
Strict quality control is vital from the start to the finish and of course you are safe in the knowledge that you house performs to the standards set out beforehand and you will have no worries about its construction quality and durability. Peace of mind is all part of our service from initial planning to the final coat of paint.
The full build of a traditional house in Cantabria, Spain using SIPs – Sealed Insulated Panels.
There are no two jobs a like. In this case the plan was to build a house next to the garden out house and finally incorporate this building into the finished product.
Its really important to get the marking out correct from the start. Mistakes here can prove costly later.
Check and double check all measurements from the soleplate drawings.
Once the site is marked out digging can commence. These dimensions are only guidelines and professional assistance must be consulted.
Its always a good move to employ competent excavators as they save you time. All top soil should be kept for future use in landscaping the finished house.
Once the trench is dug concrete can be poured in. Steel 15mm mesh is used to reinforce the mix. Then the marking lines are run out and vertical steel bars inserted every 600mm.
Once the concrete has set the interior of the foundations can be dug out.
Once the trench is filled with concrete the process of laying the concrete blocks can begin. At the same time it is a good idea to pre install drains and build the blocks around them.
All water pipes can also be brought into the house along with electricity conduits plus door bell connection and intercom from the main gate. Its worth installing an extra tube just in case.
All load bearing walls are indicated on the sole plate drawings from Timber Frame in Spain.
All drawings are supplied. The different types of walls involved in the build.
Now the concrete blocks can be laid. The vertical steel bar should fall in the middle of the block this knits the block to the foundations and the block is later filled with concrete.
All conduits should be taken well away from the footings and protected with a layer of concrete.
This is also an ideal time to lay land drains around the slab. Eventually the down pipes from the gutters can be connected to these.
The gravel infill in the interior needs to be compacted to avoid future defects in the slab.
On top of the gravel it is important to put a fine layer of soft sand to protect the plastic sheeting that goes next. Above this 80mm of floor insulation is laid plus 10mm mesh reinforcing for the final pouring of concrete.
The blocks are there just to hold everything down.
All pre installations should now be in place.
All conduits must be laid accurately so as to correspond to the drawings. You need to make sure they do not go where the panels of the structure will be placed.
Now the final layer of concrete can be poured. It is best to do this one section at a time.
The blocks of the foundations can, if correctly levelled, be used as guides for the metal profile needed for the tamping down and levelling of the concrete.
Details of the final finished floor make up.
The finished foundations. The toilet was left as the layout of this room had still to be decided.
Finally the concrete surface was treated with a special water proofing varnish to stop erosion of the slab and thus raising less dust when sweeping up inside.
When the foundations are finished work on the structure can begin.
The delivery of the structure and erection of ground floor panels.
While the foundations are being laid at the factory in the UK there is plenty of activity.
“How do we recognise the lorry?” “Its got Alberto written in big letters right across the front.”
Cue the entrance of Paco with his Manitou.
The telescopic arm means he can reach the lorry, spin round and distribute the material all about the site.
Material everywhere. A good sign.
All projects from the factory come with a sole plate layout, which is also used as a guide for the laying of the foundations.
Now we can start with the soleplate. Its important this is nice and square as mistakes now will lead to big problems later on so its worth taking your time over it. This plate is fixed to the slab with expanding screws or Hilti fasteners. Note the DPC underneath to protect the timber .
This layer of special plastic is so important as it protects the soleplate and avoids direct contact between the timber and the slab.
The technical drawings of the ground floor showing distribution of the floor and panel numbers.
Once all the measurements have been double checked and everything is nice and square the erection of panels can begin.
All the panels are numbered in this case 1 to 23.
It is important that all panels are plumb and are held up right by bracing strengtheners. Internal walls can be erected to aid this.
The factory fitted breather membrane has a fold on each panel that covers the joint between panels this is fixed with staples. All internal studs are marked both on both sides of the panel.
As is often the case changes were required by the client.
They wanted an extra window installed in the front of the house.
All interior and exterior ground floor panels went up in little more than a day.
All that is required now is fix the top plate and work on the suspended floor can commence.
The suspended floor.
Once the top plate is correctly fixed work can continue. By keeping to the dimensions of the drawings this stage and future stages are made easier.
The layout drawings from the factory.
All the joists arrive cut to length thus saving time. These joists are easily handled by two people. Its important not to walk on them until they re securely fixed to the rim plates and the distribution walls of the ground floor.
One of the many advantages of these joists is that they come in lengths of up to 24 meters. This avoids connecting joints and troublesome hangers.
Scaffolding with wheels comes in handy inside the house and all joists should be temporarily nailed where they touch internal walls.
Its important to apply bracing on top of the joists this keeps them all plumb thus ensuing maximum efficiency.
In between the joists noggins need to be fixed using Z clips. All nails, clips and hangers are galvanised.
It takes two men around six hours to lay the joists and rim boards.
The joists cross the house and carry on to form the ceiling of the porch. The porch is reinforced with metal beams lined with stud work to make the fixing of hangers easier.
Apart from noggins its also necessary to strengthen the joists with solid blocking. The metal joists need supporting level until the column is inserted.
While the floor is going in its an ideal opportunity to install the down pipes for the upstairs bathrooms. All this work now saves time later.
There is a balcony on the front of the house so the floor needs metal joists to take the external wall panels which have no supporting wall underneath.
Once all the joists are in place and securely fixed the whole area is covered in waterproof decking material.
These 22mm tongue and grooved boards are glued down and fixed with galvanised ring nails.
These boards come with a plastic layer on top. This stops all future products used in the build spoiling the surface. Once removed it leaves a clean surface for fixing finished floors.
This sheeting also makes cleaning up a lot easier which not only gives a better imagine but makes the work area safer.
The suspended floor and decking takes 3 people around a day and a half and there is no need to use a crane. Now work can begin on the first floor but also if it rains secondary work on the ground floor can be done.
All suppliers of material also draw out the floor make up.
All that is needed now is to mark out the sole plate for the first floor and the erection can continue.
Erection of first floor panels.
Works drawings of the distribution and panel numbers of the first floor.
After fixing the soleplate the panels can start to be raised. Again its important to use plenty of bracing to keep the panels plumb.
The panels come in male and female and slot together. All fixings and done by skew nailing through the OSB board.
The two ways of fixing the panels.
You have to make sure you bring up the panels in order as it becomes very crowded if not.
Because these panels are quite heavy its a good idea to bring round the crane for an hour or so to lift them up.
Its worth stacking them next to the build and dragging them onto the floor one at a time.
Once the exterior walls are in place work can start on the distribution panels.
Due to the large number of rooms a lot of care must be taken in getting everything in order.
What with all the bracing and material there is very little room for manoeuvring.
Once all the walls are in place the inter locking top plate can be fixed. This knits the whole floor together and secures the build.
Now its necessary to erect scaffolding around the house. This needs to be fixed securely to the building to stop movement and rattling which can waste energy when working from heights.
Inside the building becomes a labyrinth of walls and you can start to get dizzy from the sight of so many panels.
Once everything is securely nailed all internal bracing can be removed making it safer to move around inside. The roof trusses came in 3 pieces to save on transport. These need to be made up next to the house so the crane can easily lift them into place.
Again detailed drawing are given by the suppliers..
The best way to make up the trusses is put one together and use this as a template for the rest. If the first one is correct then so are the rest, but if its wrong they are all wrong.
Always check and double check.
Its also important to make them up in order so they go in place correctly. Again an orderly work pattern saves time.
Back comes the crane and this time with the winch attachment which makes life a lot easier. Great things these Manitou’s.
Again its important to apply plenty of bracing and where the trusses touch internal and external walls stick a fixing nail in. Its better to be safe than sorry.
This is really were you appreciate the speed in this system of building.
All trusses in place and fixed in a little over three hours using three people and the Manitiou.
With the room in the roof he house grows by over 50m2 which allows for an extra bedroom, bathroom and a small recreation area. Around 12m2 is lost to the stair well but it is well worth the extra cost.
With all the stud walls and roof trusses inside becomes a non stop series of lines and shadows.
Again all parts of the build are supplied with detailed drawings.
The roof section needs side blocking to support the gable panels.
Technical drawings show the arrangement of these.
There is very little difference between normal roof trusses and room in the roof trusses. Our designers can advise on this.
Once all trusses are fixed the floor decking can go down. The gable panels go on top of these.
Laying the decking first also means its safer to work in the roof structure.
The extensions to the front and back of the house also need fixing.
The structure viewed from 25m in the air from the safety of the basket attachment of the Manitou.
The room in the roof is a great way of adding m2 to the build.
Once the structure is finished its a good idea to cover the building with a tarpaulin to protect the house. This allows work to continue inside even when it rains. The structure was raised in seven days.
The electrician and plumber can also start work now.
Apart from the seven days taken to erect the structure the crane was on site for ten hours including the unloading of the two lorries.
Soffit, facia and eaves details.
As the structure is now waterproof the final work on the roof can begin. The tarpaulin can be removed and replaced every day thus keeping everything dry.
As far as i know this type of roof has never been built in Spain so everything was done without past experience. Its nice to have a challange. In theory all was very clear, but in practise it was another storey.
The verge details were originally designed to be a quarter circle. This was discarded due to the problems in making them up.
All the datils are to be built in solid oak. These details needed to be “hung off” the structure
All these pieces were fixed using coach bolts with wide washers to avoid distortions in the oak which was green.
These pieces were all made on site except for the pigeon chest detail which comes from the saw mill ready cut. This decoration is very common on traditional buildings in Northern Spain
Slowly but surely the decoration takes shape.
The theorists make things look so simple.
On each gable there are three supports and two edge boxes.
Its important to have scaffolding up to the correct height.
When the gable pieces are fixed and secured the lateral lengths of timber can be raised.
This is when the decorative section receive all the weight of the beams.
These beams of 150mm x 150mm in solid oak need a good support and fixing.
These beams are ordered over length and on each end there is a decorative pigeon chest. These are trimmed off to be used later on the decoration of the balcony.
Its important to get the final cut right as all this is a finish that can be seen.
The 20mm pilot hole is made to take the head of the coach bolt and washer. Once this is fixed tight the hole is filled with a 20mm dowel and cut off flush. This dowel is then sanded down and the camouflaging is perfect.
The view looking up from the porch.
As the supports are added on to the structure they need to be strengthened with cables. These run through the house and join up with the support on the other side. They are tightened with tensors. This works on a counter balance effect.
The eaves boxes also receive the same treatment.
With this type of design a lot of m3 of wood are saved as these 200mm x 200mm beams normally run straight through the house This would have also hindered head height inside the room in roof.
This design detail is very common in Spain especially in the Basque country. It is also used in Switzerland and France.
On top of the lateral beams decorative oak tongue and groove boarding is fixed.
The structure is now ready to receive roofing paper, battens and tiles.
Again the diversity of the system is evident.
Details of the room in the roof.
The tile used is a typical interlocking make which simulates the old style of Arabic tiles very typical all over Spain.
The tiles are screwed to battens which are nailed to the trusses which hold the roof breather membrane paper in place. The paper avoids condensation build up below the tiles affecting the interior of the roof.
Instead of using the side tiles lengths of stone were fixed to the lateral beams at a slight angle thus forming a drip so water avoids running down and staining the wood.
Before and after.
There are twelve tiles per m2 so covering the roof goes very quick. Two people can finish the complete roof in less than three days including cementing in the ridge tiles.
Photos of the final finish.
Once the holes are filled with dowels the holes are hidden from sight. One of the advantages of having everything straight and plumb is that guttering installation is made a lot easier. You fix one clip at one end and one at the other 30mm lower and you have the sufficient inclination for the water to run along the gutters. All is needed is to string a line and fix clips every 600mm.
The guttering is made from copper and needs to be soldered in place. Take care to not burn the facia board. A small grill is fixed under the first row of tiles to keep birds out.
Keeping the birds off the supports has to be dealt with as well. This also hides the cables and fixing strenghteners.
The structure is now completely waterproof. Only the windows and doors need fitting to make working inside comfortable. All the external oak is given two coats of stain and three coats of a water based varnish.
The windows are screwed to a frame that is covered in breather paper. This frame in turn is fixed directly to the structure. All windows an external doors can be fixed in less than a day.
Now work on the finish cladding of the house can begin.
Section B-B showing gable panel details.
The first floor doors are sliders so as to take up less room in the bedroom and balcony.
Now work can commence inside and outside without anybody getting in each others way.
The exterior finish.
There are numerous ways of finishing a structure. A traditional Cantabrian finish is this case.
The stone masons arrive with all their paraphernalia.
Of course with a novelty. Two lintels for the price of one.
Straight away there are noticeable changes.
The cavity also receives a layer of insulation with reflective paper on both sides. This is stuck straight to the structure with water proof glue. As a secondary measure the brick clips have a special washer which helps to hold the insulation in place while the glue sets.
This insulation controls the build up of extreme temperatures inside the cavity and stops these temperatures affecting the structure.
As the out house is to be incorporated into the new build a few touches are necessary.
New door heights are needed, walls built up and all in the style of the new house.
All the stone is reclaimed from a local demolition.
This stone finish was taken into account when laying the foundations. There is a lot of weight to support.
So as not to bother the stone masons the access to the house was by ladder to the balcony.
Its a good idea to put cuts offs of insulation on the clips as they have sharp points.
A large amount of stone has to be prepared and distributed around the site.
The first 250mm of wall is in stone and from there upwards bricks except for the corners and details around windows and external doors.
On top of this stone work the DPC is laid. Also note the gaps in the stone for the fixing of breather vents for the cavity.
Once again scaffolding needs putting up.
Again in the front of the house there are gaps for ventilators.
All down pipes from the upstairs toilets are hidden away in the cavity.
The entrance porch is all clad in stone.
Another local touch are the arced entrances to the porch. These are cut from new stone but will soon blend in with the older stonework.
As is usual in cases like this, they are built round a former.
The two arches as seen from the front door. This also receives the treatment.
Yet another decorative feature: the bacony is typical of local architecture.
This small detail is very typical in the region of Cantabria. Its there to break the continual line of the front of the house and also serves to make the balcony slightly bigger.
The balcony starting to take shape.
Corner stones, window sills and lintels all prepared by the stone chain saw.
The installation of windows also need special attention.
Again detailed drawings are supplied.
Above all the windows there is a trickle vent which allows air circulation inside the house even when empty. As this is a holiday house its a good idea.
On top of the window lintel a length of L shaped zinc plated trim is inserted behind the insulation. This stops condensations in the cavity affecting the windows.
Three quarters finished.
Details of the front corner of the houe.
All the pigeon chest off cuts are now incorporated in the under part of the balcony.
Non of this part of the building is structural. All is decorative.
As the balcony faces north it is planned in the future to glaze this area. Normally a house would have been built with the balcony facing south to make the most of the winter sun. There was no choice in this case because of the out house.
Once the cladding is finished the bricks receive a layer of water proof covering.
This skim needs a few days to dry out and is then painted with water proof paint.
A birds eye view.
The final touches.
Once everything is painted the scaffolding is finally removed.
Once the balcony is finished the decorative balustrade railings can be fixed.
This decorative feature is again very common in the north of Spain.
At the end of the day the new stone blends in well with the reclaimed stone.
Now the down pipes of the guttering can be fixed and joined to the land drains laid when the foundations went in.
All that remains is for the grass to return and there will be no sign of the build.
Felix working wonders with his magic brush.
Note the vents along the bottom of the exterior wall. There are four on each side and three on the front.
The old out house now becomes a second living room with an open fire, the only source of heating in the house. With the technology incorporated in this type of build it is possible to eliminate central heating and air conditioning anywhere in Spain.
A entire cleaning of the site leaves everything looking spik and span.
The final product in all its glory.
The front of the house almost finished. “How old is it?”
We hope this slide show has proved useful.