Let’s be honest, we’ve all dreamed of upping sticks and relocating to the country in a little wooden home. The simple life associated with timber homes, although somewhat romanticised, remains appealing for its connection to natural materials and traditional design. Nowadays, there are a multitude of wooden house styles to choose from, from cute and classic rustic cottages to cutting-edge contemporary mansions. Here in the UK, wood is not often the primary material of choice for a new home, although timber is often incorporated into the design in the form of cladding or external detailing. In other, warmer, parts of the world it remains a more popular building material, with simple, one-storey bungalows widespread in tropical Asia, South America and the Middle East. Here in Europe, wooden homes tend either to be old and in a state of disrepair, or extremely new with a modernist leaning and box-like construction. This also tends to be the case in Canada and the USA. Mixed-material homes have also been on the increase in recent years, with timber-clad concrete or stone dwellings a persistently fashionable choice. If you’re considering buying or building a wooden home, make sure you do your research and settle on the look that’s right for you—homify has thousands of images for inspiration!
As far as building materials are concerned, wood is a timeless option due to its versatility and durability. As advances in engineering and technology have been made, better wood treatments have become available, which have increased the potential of this natural material exponentially. In fact, architects swear by wood, constantly finding novel ways to incorporate it into home construction. Wooden houses are not just charming and elegant but also comfortable and warm during the wintertime and cool during summer. And that's not all! Wooden houses can also be easily equipped with all modern comforts, transforming them into ideal modern homes. And lest we forget, wood is a sustainable and environmentally-friendly material that's also cheaper than concrete.
If you’re considering investing in a timber home, it’s important you know and understand the mechanical properties you’ll be dealing with. Being a natural, sustainable product, wood is certainly very appealing and comes with many inherent benefits, but there are some practical drawbacks to watch out for too. In terms of advantages, wood has excellent acoustic properties and will absorb sound very well—so you should be able to sleep like a baby! It also has favourable thermal and electrical properties for a safe and stable home, and it’s a relatively strong material in relation to its lightness. This lightness makes it easier to handle and build with, but of course opens up some other downsides. We also mustn’t overlook the fact that wood is a stunning material in aesthetic terms, and comes in a seemingly endless spectrum of tones and textures.
When it comes to downsides, wood is well known for being susceptible to water damage and will shrink and contort if left untreated. As a natural material, wood will also deteriorate over time and can fall prey to mould, fungi and a host of burrowing creatures that can decimate its strength and integrity. Termites, woodworm and certain types of beetle will happily destroy great swathes of a wooden home if left to their own devices, so make sure all timber is treated and maintained regularly. Wooden homes are also a greater fire risk than many of their modern counterparts, and so this needs to be factored in when making safety assessments.
If you’re in the market for a timber home, you’ll need to weigh up whether you want to build or buy, if you’ll be doing any of the work yourself, and what your final budget will be. It’s always advisable to consult an experienced architect right from the start, as they can answer any questions and set you on the right track. In terms of approximate figures, a simple wooden cabin can set you back from as little as £18,000 with a multi-storey ranch-style abode coming in at around £350,000. All in all it really depends on where you’re building, the quality of your materials and how quickly you want the project to be completed. As long as you do your research and enlist the help of reputable professionals, you’ll be good to go.