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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

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    • CommentAuthormitchino
    • CommentTimeJun 6th 2020
     
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2020
     
    Timber frame always seems to me to be too temporary, flimsy and substandard.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2020 edited
     
    So it will seem a reasonable reaction to the Grenfell disaster that the government banned timber (along with other combustible materials) from the exterior of residential buildings more than 18 metres high.
    (My emphasis).

    Part of the problem is that the current ban doesn’t adequately distinguish between the cladding, or outer skin of a building, and its structure.
    OK, cladding isn't all of the “exterior” but still, some clarification is needed here.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2020
     
    Meanwhile, Tony, how many piles of rock have “temporary, flimsy and substandard” roof structures?
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2020 edited
     
    LOL Almost all of them - even mine but my roof is Not temporary, flimsy or substandard, it will be there for hundreds of years

    What is the design life of a timber framed home?
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2020 edited
     
    The house next to us has a timber frame and was built in 1629. It also has wattle and daub infill. There are 1000 year old timber churches.

    So I'd suggest that timber structures are very long lasting when designed, built and maintained correctly. More interesting is the link in that story to https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/feb/25/concrete-the-most-destructive-material-on-earth

    Timber structure is also more inherently resistant to fires than steel when used correctly. And is a lot stronger by weight.

    I suggest taking a proper look at the subject.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2020
     
    Design life is a red herring. It's a 'modern' concept tied to insurance etc rather than to engineering.
    • CommentAuthorMike1
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2020
     
    Posted By: djhThe house next to us has a timber frame and was built in 1629. It also has wattle and daub infill. There are 1000 year old timber churches.

    So I'd suggest that timber structures are very long lasting when designed, built and maintained correctly.

    Maybe the life of modern timber frames will be limited more by the longevity of the nails?

    A bigger concern should probably be the extent to which the required fire stops are correctly installed. There are notable exceptions, but in general UK workmanship isn't noted for its world leading quality.

    See also: http://www.timberframefires.co.uk/
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2020
     
    Posted By: Mike1See also: http://www.timberframefires.co.uk/


    Hmm, castigating a construction method for its vulnerability during construction doesn't seem very reasonable to me. But then I live in a bale house :bigsmile: And construction fires there make timber frame look like chicken feed. We had several large fire extinguishers and a couple of hoses on site but thankfully didn't come close to needing them. Perhaps what's needed is better advice/rules on how to manage timber frame construction sites.

    I do agree with your comment about workmanship. Careless use of blowtorches, angle grinders, even cigarettes etc can cause serious problems. Lack of knowledge about the importance of fire stops and how they should be installed is inexcusable. We need to rethink the whole environment to change attitudes and upskill workers.
    • CommentAuthorJonti
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2020
     
    Timberframe or better said natural material based buildings are the future. Wooden frames are proven to last many hundred of years where as steel and concrete buildings are still largely unproven. Yes the Pantheon is 1900 years old but then the Romans really knew how to build for the ages.

    As for craftmanship here in the UK. Like any country the UK has its fair share of excellent craftsmen but a visit to any large construction site in the house building business will show you how shoddy it is on the whole. I put this down to the fact that UK companies no longer have apprenticeships and use external labour who's main job is to finish quickly and sod the quality. Of course the total lack of control from the planning authorities doesn't help.
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2020
     
    The underlying strategy of using the least intelligent people to build the countries housing stock is unbright.

    It is not their fault though, I blame the management, .....
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2020
     
    Posted By: JontiOf course the total lack of control from the planning authorities doesn't help.

    I agree with everything you said. But it doesn't need control by planning authorities, it just needs retrospective liability for defects, and an ability for public authorities to bring actions (or a US-style class action capability).

    The current pandemic is showing up the shortcomings in a lot of existing law. Why should the landlord of a commercial letting be entitled to continue to collect rent when the premises are no longer earning an income because of legislative fiat?
    • CommentAuthorJonti
    • CommentTimeJun 8th 2020
     
    djh,

    very true. It is still mindboggling to me that despite all the consumer laws the biggest purchase most people will make has no such laws attached to it.
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeJun 8th 2020
     
    It is going to come and when it does it will be a game changer. A badly needed one at that.
  1.  
    But will it also apply to self builders - if you sell your completed build on to someone, can they lodge a speculative claim against you, for something they know cannot be disproved without digging holes in floors?

    If so, will the build be saleable, and so mortgageable? Will anyone dare build anything unusual that complies 'creatively' with the standards?

    I'd rather that building standards were upheld properly by local authority, rather than by no-win-no-fee liability vultures piling in retrospectively.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 8th 2020 edited
     
    Posted By: WillInAberdeenBut will it also apply to self builders - if you sell your completed build on to someone, can they lodge a speculative claim against you, for something they know cannot be disproved without digging holes in floors?

    Since I've got photos of everything for my PHI certification, I'm fairly comfortable nobody could do that to me. Not that I'm ever thinking of selling :bigsmile:
    • CommentAuthorJonti
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2020
     
    WillinAberdeen,

    if you are building to sell on then aren't you a builder? I always understood a 'self builder' to be someone who builds a property to live in themselves. A 10 year warranty on a building would be a big plus. I suppose other options would be 10% of the price for new builds being held back until the 10 years and the snagging was done but I can't see that happening.

    Of course you are spot on about building standards being upheld by the local authority.
  2.  
    Many of us build houses which we plan to live in, but as we need mortgages to do so, the house has to be saleable otherwise not mortgageable. And sometimes circumstances change (ours did) so sometimes the house is sold on (ours was). We couldn't afford to delay receiving 10% of the price for 10years, as that's part of the deposit for the next house.

    IMO self builders should be held properly to building standards, as should all builders, but should not be at risk of a claims shark solicitor hitting them years later to debate the finer point of an obscure provision in court or pay 'liability'. There should be a meaningful and final signoff from a thorough building standards inspector acting in the public interest, not on behalf of the builder.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2020
     
    Posted By: WillInAberdeenThere should be a meaningful and final signoff from a thorough building standards inspector acting in the public interest, not on behalf of the builder.

    I don't think there's any chance that's realistic. Even project managing the whole build myself on site every day and looking for faults, there's no way I could put my hand on my heart and say there are none. There's no way a public servant could/would do a thorough job, and TBH I dont think there's a realistic public interest in the task anyway.

    I think the reality is that some combination of holdback, such as Persimmon are now offering, and a more effective warranty/insurance scheme, together with simpler, clearer rules is the most optimistic way forward.
    • CommentAuthordickster
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2020
     
    As our timber house was being built I caught the builder using some bolts that were cut to length but not galvafroided on the cut ends. Argument ensued, but on this occasion I won. This preceded the next kerfluffle when I asked that all nail gun nails be stainless where structurally appropriate. So all the metals hidden within our timber frame are protected and should not rust even if there is a bit of interstitial dampness hidden away.

    I hope that our house is good for al least a couple of hundred years.

    Ecology Building Society lent us the money for non standard build.
    • CommentAuthorJonti
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2020
     
    WillinAberdeen,

    then I am not sure what your point is. If someone builds a house to live in but then decides for whatever reason to sell it on then shouldn't they be held to the same laws and regulations as a builder?
  3.  
    The proposal was that builders (including self builders) should be open to retrospective legal actions for 'liability,' for many years after moving out. Or that 10% of the sale price be withheld.

    As I mentioned, this would certainly benefit the speculative 'claims management' scavengers, but would make it riskier for builders (including self builders) to sell, hence more difficult to raise mortgages.

    As I mentioned, builders (including self builders) should be subject to laws and regulations which should be properly enforced by public bodies at the time of the build, not many years later by claims sharks.

    Said DJH: " there's no way I could put my hand on my heart and say there are no faults"
    - then how could you (or your heirs) defend in court against a speculative claim from the next-but-one buyers of the house?
    You'd need some certification from an independent body saying the build quality has been done to a reasonable legal standard. Something like a completion certificate!
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2020
     
    I think that we have sufficient proof that the inspection route does not work.

    We also know but ignore the performance gap, ie design passes but as built does not.

    Were just one of the big builders to get sued then they would all sharpen up their act,

    Presently housing associations are delivering better homes than are available on the open market so I am expecting some of them to jump the gap and become developers indeed they may have done this already.

    All I am wanting to see is far better houses being built for the man in the street.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2020
     
    Posted By: WillInAberdeenSaid DJH: " there's no way I could put my hand on my heart and say there are no faults"
    - then how could you (or your heirs) defend in court against a speculative claim from the next-but-one buyers of the house?
    You'd need some certification from an independent body saying the build quality has been done to a reasonable legal standard. Something like a completion certificate!

    (a) because there's no way to bring such an action. (and my heirs aren't liable for my debts if there were!)
    (b) I have a completion certificate. I also have a PH certificate, which implies a lot more about the build quality.

    I'd happily put my hand on my heart and say the build is to a 'reasonable' quality, and specifically to the legal standard required by building regs. But I can't say there were no faults anywhere when it was built. I know there are some faults now - that's why we have some maintenance planned that's been delayed by the current big-C. But there may well be other faults I don't know about.
    • CommentAuthorMike1
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2020 edited
     
    Posted By: WillInAberdeenThe proposal was that builders (including self builders) should be open to retrospective legal actions for 'liability,' for many years after moving out. Or that 10% of the sale price be withheld.

    As I mentioned, this would certainly benefit the speculative 'claims management' scavengers, but would make it riskier for builders (including self builders) to sell, hence more difficult to raise mortgages.

    It would indeed be a problem for self-builders, as it is in France, where the builder carries 10 year's liability for major defects, and where the associated insurance is virtually unobtainable by self builders.

    Effectively that means that true self-builders can't readily sell for 10 years, at least not to a buyer needing a mortgage, and if they do sell then they retain personal liability.

    I gather that obtaining build funding is consequently very difficult too, and unlikely unless you can prove your competence through training courses or prior experience.
    • CommentAuthorvord
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2020 edited
     
    Posted By: tonyTimber frame always seems to me to be too temporary, flimsy and substandard.


    The oldest part of my house is timber framed with wattle and daub infill. To be fair bricks were expensive at the time so were not commonly used as a building material in the area until much later.

    Temporary for me is anything built with portland cement or the assumption that waterproofing walls is a better idea than allowing the water out. Modern building culture seems very temporary. I'm not sure that will turn out to be very green.

    Good design is more important than the materials you use.
    • CommentAuthorJonti
    • CommentTimeJun 10th 2020
     
    WillinAberdeen,

    I just struggle to see why you think that a house should not be guaranteed the same as any other product. If you build to the regulations and get it signed off then there should be no problem. To me a self build is one where you live in it afterwards. If for whatever reason you sell n after a short time then you are a builder not a self builder.

    I suppose in the end it is a case of agree to disagree.
  4.  
    Aye my loon,

    I think Mike1 explained why self building isn't compatible with a 'liability' culture, mortgage companies couldn't lend to us if there would be a liability hanging over for claims made years afterwards.

    We should build to the standards and get a meaningful signoff. Liability should then transfer to the new owner when they buy.

    Self builders think that we are building our 'forever' homes and if that's you then I wish you luck. I hope your extended family stay healthy, so you don't unexpectedly have to sell up your project and move - it's quite disconcerting! But if you do find yourself in that position, I can recommend building an easily saleable house without strings attached to it.

    stay safe! Wullie
    • CommentAuthorJonti
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2020
     
    WillinAberdeen,

    thanks for the insult. It is a shame that you feel the need just because someone might not agree with you!

    Mike's example only shows that the system does not work in France but there are plenty of examples where there are systems that provide long term guarantees for housing constructed by self builders.

    The one intelligent point that your last post did contain is that self builders 'should build to the standards and get a meaningful signoff' '.

    The only reason for expecting liability to transfer to the new owner is if the builder has no confidence in the quality of the building's construction in which case maybe it is best for them not to build in the first place.

    There is no other product that the maker does not have to offer a reasonable length of guarantee on the product and it is about time that housing was no longer the exception.

    This is yet another example of the 'free market' not functioning in the interests of the consumer and shows it is time for the state to take back control.
  5.  
    Jonti, I have not written or intended any insults. If you didn't take the hint about why I am one of the self builders who needed to sell up, then have another read through and consider your statements that I "am a builder not a self builder". I hope it doesn't happen to you or anyone else here.
    Wullie.
   
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