timber framed housing development

Reports have shown that a timber frame house can be cheaper to build than masonry construction. However, this is not the case for every project as there are likely to be larger initial capital requirements for timber frame.

Ultimately, the answer will vary depending on the details of the development but in this article, we will go through a general price comparison, look at factors affecting cost, and average prices for timber frame houses.

//Timber Frame Cost vs Masonry Cost

On larger, faster selling sites (typically greater than 0.7 sales per week), timber frame is cheaper to build than traditional construction. [National Housebuilder Internal Analysis, 2016] Although the cost of timber is only slightly lower than masonry materials, the construction process is where significant money can be saved.

Modern methods of construction have enabled timber frames to take less time to install than brick. As the structure is prefabricated off site, the structure can be erected a lot quicker than masonry. Plus, due to the fact that the build can be weathertight quicker, there is less risk of programme delays due to bad weather and internal works can be commenced much quicker and on a more predictable programme. 

This build certainty and predictable programme lessens the impact of any labour or material shortages, increases productivity and means you can respond to higher sales rates – all increasing profitability.

//What Affects the Cost of a Timber Frame House?

Labour Costs

Due to the quicker build times and predictability of a timber frame house, there are less wasted man hours. Productivity levels have the potential to double through less non-value added activities such as handling materials compared to masonry construction. Plus, there will be lower cranage expenses, scaffolding costs and a better risk profile due to more assured dates. This factor results in savings in prelims and site costs of £420 per plot per week. [AIMC4, 2012 (9 weeks vs 18 weeks for masonry)

Income Streams

Also due to the quicker, more predictable build times, units will be completed faster which means they can be handed over faster and rental income streams will start sooner. Alternatively, social housing grants will be drawn down earlier than with masonry construction, so the return on investment is much quicker.


Timber frames mean the house structure is lighter so there may be reduced foundation costs. Less materials are required to support the timber frame house structure, so this ultimately leads to a cut in costs.


Using timber frames leads to reduced snagging costs such as less material waste and time waste with fewer on-site inspections. This is due to the fact that timber frames are built in a controlled, offsite construction environment meaning waste can be minimised.

//How Much Do Timber Frame Houses Cost?

How much timber frame houses cost varies considerably depending on the design complexity. Factors that affect costs include:

  • Roof type
  • Floor spans
  • Inclusion of loadbearing walls
  • Amounts of glazing

Typical timber frame costs for a standard 3 or 4 bedroom house may vary from £1650- £2000 per square metre of floor area (£150-£185 per square foot) for a basic kit. Extras like closed panels, pre-insulated panels, staircases and panelised roofs like our One-Roof would be additional.

//Why Timber Frame Houses are an Investment

Even though a timber frame house can be cheaper to build than masonry, they are a strong investment for property developers and property owners.

Manufacturing standards have significantly improved over the years and building safety regulations have become more stringent, making offsite manufactured timber frame an even more popular choice. They are able to be specified where fire is a consideration, are much more robust and have longer life spans. All timber frames are designed with a minimum design life of 60 years but, in reality, Pinewood Structures’ frames will well outlast this.

Not only this, but their sustainable qualities mean they are much more desirable nowadays to housebuilders and buyers alike. Our timber is sustainably sourced and timber frames allow for high levels of insulation in the walls with better airtightness, resulting in a more energy efficient result.

//Choose Pinewood for Your Next Project

At Pinewood, we understand that budget plays a vital role in every site development project for housebuilders. To reduce the risk of exceeding budgets without compromising the quality of the build, timber frame houses are the answer.

Build homes faster, cheaper and with less wastage by coming to Pinewood Structures. Get in touch to discuss your requirements today.