Although most people not in the industry might take it for granted, homebuilding is a highly complex endeavour, and there are a range of construction types that can be utilised to build the homes we live in.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the most common types of construction styles for domestic homes, including the potential risks, and ways to overcome those risks.
Brick and Block
A common type of construction with a long history, brick and block is still regularly used by homebuilders thanks to its inexpensive and easy process.
Essentially, buildings are constructed in two ‘leaves’, with an internal blockwork wall inside, and an external wall made from brick. This is usually complemented by internal partitions also made from blockwork, which supports the structure of the house.
Although it’s slower than some other methods, brick and block continues to be the most effective solution and a favourite of the mainstream home builders as well as domestic builders.
Some homebuilders are moving from brick and block built to timber frame homes. These are usually either ‘open-panel’ or ‘closed-panel’. The two types differ slightly but are quite similar for the most part.
Open panel frames are usually made of engineered panels which form the inside load-bearing wall, with studs, rails, and sheathing with a breathable membrane. The system is usually made from softwood, then covered with structural sheetboards. Closed panel structures are made from studs, rails, and insulation, with sheathings or linings on the panel face. These structures also feature vapour barriers on the ‘warm side’ of the insulation and a breather membrane. Closed panel designs are usually chosen to maximise thermal performance.
Although not as popular in the UK as it is across the Atlantic, steel is a fantastically lightweight and weather resistant choice for homebuilding. The rapid speed at which steel buildings can be erected is making it an ever more popular choice for some homebuilders.
Exterior panels are simply attached to steel skeletons and rendered. In very wet areas where it is crucial to get buildings watertight quickly, steel frame designs allow for rapid sealing. Overall, steel frames are a growing choice for cost-effective and efficient homebuilds.
Although the above three designs are the most common methods of construction for UK homebuilders, there are other options available.
Structural Insulated Panels (SIP), for example, are an increasingly popular choice, being both environmentally friendly and much less costly in terms of time and labour. Two sheets of strandboard sandwich a thick piece of insulation, and a core made of expanded polystyrene is injected between the sheathings to create a bond. Once it sets, the core bonds with the strandboard to create panels which require no internal studwork. SIP houses can be rapidly erected - often in under a week - and are both strong and energy efficient, however the initial outlay can be higher.
Conversely, there are also more traditional methods to consider, such as cob construction - using a clay, water, and straw method to build layers - and straw bale construction. However, despite the long history of these methods, they have lately become restricted to niche homebuilders and hobbyists.
As with any construction project homebuilding contains a multitude of hazards which can pose a risk to the builders themselves. These range from fall risks to wall collapse, and more.
It’s crucial that no matter which method you choose, you follow all relevant guidance, identify risks with a comprehensive risk assessment, employ only competent individuals, and supply them with the right equipment.
At Oxford Safety Components, we design and supply a range of safety equipment for homebuilding and safe access products to ensure the safety of workers in the UK and beyond. Whether you are a mainstream homebuilder, or you’re building a home for yourself and your family, you should ensure you have the right tools to hand. Click here to view our range of products, or, for advice on your project and any potential equipment you might need, call us on +44 (0)1869 32 32 82.
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