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Brick and Block Building

Traditional brick and block houses remain the most popular form of self building with around 70% of self builders choosing this traditional build method.

A wet brick and block build is constructed with a block built internal skin and cavity followed by a brick external facing, remain the preferred building method of self-builders. According to the Traditional Housing Bureau (THB), an organisation that promotes brick and block building techniques, around 70 per cent choose this method to construct their property.

Brick and Block BuildingHeated discussions over the speed of brick and block construction will be around for years to come - it is often argued that the speed of construction is close between traditional methods and timber frames. This may well be the case if you've started trying to build and not yet ordered a timber frame, but timber if you plan to start once your frame is ready - as most do - a timber frame house will be water tight as much as four to six weeks sooner than a brick and block build.

Changes to thermal efficiency were introduced in April 2002, toughening up the building regulation requirements - an area where timber frame excels but this does not mean that brick and block building has had its day!

Thermal Performance

The solid mass of a brick and block self build allows the absorption of heat, which is radiated into the house. This creates a more stable temperature meaning less heat will be required at night.

Tests have shown brick and block built houses to maintain a temperature between 5°C - 8°C higher than lightweight structures.

Sound Insulation

Further to the thermal performance regulation changes, sound insulation specifications have been increased. It is widely accepted that mass stops noise in the simplest terms. Block work clearly provides a lot more mass over plasterboard and studwork partitions - when plastered the block work provides around 50 per cent greater sound insulation.

Superior sound insulation is provided by concrete floors over that offered by wooden floors, with a comparative reduction of around 47-52dB compared to 30-38dB of a timber floor.

Of course, these increased building specifications are rarely for the benefit of the self builders pocket, but brick and block has the advantage in these stakes. The cost of building either brick and block, or timber frame is now very close.

The interesting and perhaps less obvious advantage is down to the staged payments of a brick and block build. Timber frames have to be paid in full upfront whereas a self builder using brick and block can pay in several installments as and when more bricks are required. This is handy if you are relying on a mortgage that makes stage payments, rather a lump sum - though you must of course ensure your can complete each stage with the bricks you've bought!

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