The most common building methods in Ireland are blockwork and timber frame but there are other options to consider as well. Building methods categories can be organised as follows:
- Block and/or brick (traditional)
- Timber frame
- Insulating Concrete Formwork (ICF) is the most prevalent modern method of construction
- Other modern methods include Structural Insulated Panel System (SIPS) and Cross Laminated Timber (CLT)
- DIY which includes the stick build/Segal method and eco builds, e.g. straw bale, earthen structures, hempcrete, etc.
It’s important to make an informed choice early in the design process because your choice will not only affect the obvious such as speed of build and cost but also could have implications for the design and layout of your home. For example with timber frame, the manufacturer will have an input into the design to help with the construction.
Also large openings for windows or double height ceilings usually require steel to carry the load which in turn may require the steel to be supported on masonry.
Airtightness and thermal bridging, building breathability, carbon footprint, speed of build, ease of first and second fix etc are all elements that change with the building method.
Blockwork remains the most cost effective building method but when building a low energy house, costs become comparable.
A low energy house can be more easily achieved with timber frame, ICF or SIPS than with a traditional build because a lot of the human error is taken out of the equation – but it all depends on workmanship as block builds will also yield high quality low energy homes (with ample wall cavity widths and good attention to air leakage prevention).
The listed methods above are certainly not exhaustive.
Others include: alternative structural timber options (oak frame or engineered structural timber framing such as glulam), steel frame, stone and modular systems.
These may come at an additional cost, and in many cases you will need to source them from a specialised supplier or another jurisdiction.