Types of House Construction in Britain Today
House construction today does not face the constraints seen over the years, where construction type was dictated by locally available materials. Today’s infrastructure and manufacturing allows for the building of almost any type of housing in almost any locality across the country.
Solid stone buildings are a rarity in construction today, with the abundance and availability of modern materials superseding stone, but the tradition goes on in limited forms, with local materials emphasising the regional styles, such as flint in north Norfolk, or granite stone on the higher grounds of the north and west.
Cobb construction, now a rather niche building method in the west country and parts of east Anglia, is considered environmentally friendly, using non manufactured materials for the walls.
A mixture of mud, sand, fine aggregate and straw mixed with water to a reasonably stiff but malleable consistency, are built off a masonry base. A layer around two feet high is laid, then allowed to dry, then another layer added, and so on. It results in two foot thick walls giving a high level of insulation.
Cobb (Cob) is also incredibly durable, and examples of Cobb walls dating from the thirteenth century can still be seen today.
What is now defined as the traditional method of house construction is the use of brick and blocks. The weight bearing wall is built of block and the outer skin is normally brick, cladding or rendering.
This supersedes the cavity wall construction of two courses of bricks, blocks being quicker to lay and more economical.
Timber frame has been around for a very long time, but today’s timber frame is a world different to that which first started being popular in the Tudor times. The build then, was with hardwood frames that were filled with stones, bricks or even wattle and daub. Exposed timbers were part of the design.
Today’s timber frames are computer designed off-site, making each and every piece of wood part of the integral strength of the structure. It is delivered to site once the foundations have been completed, and the house can be constructed in a matter of days. Construction foundations are broadly similar regardless of the construction method as all new builds need a solid base to spread their weight….. commonly a backhoe loader or similar – see here for latest diggers & construction machinery – is used to dig footings as required prior to concrete pouring.
After WW2, with the governments drive to supply new housing, particularly in the social sector, pre-fab houses were trialled from a range of different materials, including precast concrete, timber, and steel and aluminium. Most of these houses had a designate life span of around 10 to 20 years, but some are still with us today, such as “Tin-Town” in Luton.