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  • March 28, 2021
  • Monica Duggan

Building Blocks

I might know about light, I might think I know about interiors, but I know I do not know about the structure of a new build! This element was definitely left to my dearest husband. He spent most of his formative years working summers on building sites with Sisk. His father was a foreman with Sisk so between the two of them, I knew they would come up with the right solution.

Laying the foundations!

However, in the end, it wasn’t all that simple!

Donal, my husband, was thinking about sustainability, performance, energy efficiency, and speed of build and for all of these reasons had his mindset on a timber frame. His father on the other hand, who’d been involved in the building industry most of his life, was pushing us towards a traditional block build. He couldn’t understand why we would want to go for a timber frame which led to a few interesting conversations on the run-up to starting the job (most of which I stayed out of wanting to keep on the right side of the in-laws!)

Getting ready for the timber frame

Donal needs a warm house, secretly he’s a little obsessed with the notion, so much so, my father used to jokingly call him Mr. Insulation! From Donal’s research Timber frame homes were the highest performing build type for energy efficiency, sustainability and ease and speed of build – it ticked all of his boxes. The timber frame did work out slightly more expensive but the speed of build balanced that out – our home was weather tight in less than a week.

Once we’d decided on the material, Donal spent many hours sending our drawings out to price with lots of companies. The best value came from a company in Waterford called MTS. Before making our final choice, Mr. Insulation and I did visit their factory to meet the lads, to get a feel for them and to ensure we were happy with what they produced. As it happened, they were also working on a large residential development in Kilkenny at the time which cemented our decision.

Having the crane onsite was a day I’ll never forget

One of the other great advantages about going with MTS was once our architectural drawings were finalised, they designed the foundations and produced the engineering drawings. We had the extra complexity that our extension was joining our old cottage and MTS worked out how to best do that. They also advised on prepping the site for their arrival.

MTS work slightly different to other Timber frame companies. Mostly with this type of build, the company would come to site with the insulation already integrated into the walls. With MTS however, they did the installation after the timber frame was installed. This also meant that we had to have our electrician at the ready as he was needed for first fix before the insulation was put in.

When working with Timber Frame all elements need to align before coming to site. We were very lucky in this respect with Internorm, our window supplier, who were extremely proactive. Without alerting us they called down to MTS to run through the exact dimensions of each window ensuring they matched their drawings before ordering – it took all that stress out of our hands!

Taking shape

With regards to installation, MTS gave us a number of different options. We were advised that we couldn’t go fully airtight as we were joining old to new but we could reach an A2 rating for the extension. I don’t personally like the idea of airtight anyway, as I love fresh air running through a home… good for the house, good for the heart!

The main construction team meeting

After doing the Timber frame, we did add an outer layer of block work that wrapped the house. This allowed us to plaster the front of the extension and clad the back. It also gave us an extra layer of insulation – Mr.Insulation was delighted of course! 

Nearly there

If we were ever to build another house, we would use Timber frame 100 times over Donal assures me. I assured him we won’t be building another house 😉

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About Monica Duggan

Monica grew up with a screwdriver & bulb in her hands before she started to 'hassle' the boss! After gallivanting around the world & getting an education she worked in all areas of the business, and was a natural fit for developing Willie Duggan further. She does her best thinking struggling up a mountain, hiking a trail or beating herself up in the gym!

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