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A Beginner’s Guide to Timber Frame Extensions and Construction

Timber frame extensions and timber frame construction are topics that have risen in interest as the years have gone on, and 2024 seems to be no different. 

Whether you’ve done some of your own research into building with timber or this is the first time you’ve heard about it, this article is just what you’ve been looking for. 

In this beginner’s guide to timber frame extensions and timber frame construction, we’re going to first explain what timber frame construction is, and what makes it a great building practice. Also, we’ll be discussing timber frame extensions – perhaps the most popular form of timber frame construction – to tell you everything you need to know about this type of home extension.


What is Timber Frame Construction?

It’s not just home extensions that can be built using timber. Entire homes can be created using timber frames, making it a popular New-build project choice. 

Timber frame construction consists of using external and internal wall studs, floor joists, and roof trusses to form the structure of a building. These elements are prefabricated, meaning they can be manufactured off-site and delivered already assembled. 

Timber frame construction includes the walls, floors and roof to create a consistent structure. These will then transfer the load of the building to the foundations (more on timber frame foundations later). 

Timber frame wall systems are made up of several different elements and each layer has a purpose. From the outer layer inwards, these include:

  • External cladding 
  • Breather membrane 
  • Oriented strand board 
  • Wall insulation 
  • Vapour control layer 
  • Service zone

Timber frame construction is being incorporated more and more into home construction with a decent amount of new build homes being built using this method. As well as schools, office buildings, and blocks of flats. 


What is a Timber Frame Extension?

So, a timber frame extension is a home extension that has been built using the construction method above, as opposed to brick and mortar. 

There are many reasons homeowners may choose a timber frame extension over brick. We touched on one of the main advantages briefly, which was the prefabricated panels. 

What this usually means for homeowners is that they can expect a quicker build time for their extension. As these timber panels are manufactured off-site in a factory, they can be quickly assembled to specific measurements and dimensions, and shipped out to the site, ready to go up. 

This way, the timber frame contractors working on your extension are not at the mercy of the weather when taking the time to build the extension on-site. 

What’s also important to remember is that a timber frame extension can be clad in multiple ways – with brick, cement or wood. This gives you more freedom with your timber frame extension design and it also provides weather protection. 


Do Timber Frame Extensions Need Planning Permission? 

No, you do not always need planning permission for a timber frame extension. 

Extensions built using timber are no different than an extension built with brick in terms of permitted development rights. With PDR, timber frame extensions can be built without planning permission as long as the extension adheres to the guidelines.


What are the guidelines for building a single-storey timber frame extension under permitted development rights?

  • The extension takes up no more than half the area around the existing dwelling 
  • The extension cannot be built forward of the principal or side elevation fronting a highway 
  • The materials used to build the extension are similar to that of the existing dwelling (doesn’t apply to conservatories)
  • Side extensions cannot have a width greater than the width of the existing dwelling
  • Side extensions cannot exceed the maximum height of 4m 
  • Extensions within 2m of a boundary should have a height no higher than 3m 
  • Single-storey extensions at the rear of a property must not extend beyond 4m of the existing dwelling’s rear wall if it is a detached house. This is lowered to 3m for any other house
  • The maximum height for a single-storey rear extension cannot exceed 4m 
  • The extension’s eaves and ridge cannot be higher than the existing dwelling


What are the guidelines for building a double-storey timber frame extension under permitted development rights?

  • The extension takes up no more than half the area around the existing dwelling 
  • The extension’s eaves and ridge cannot be higher than the existing dwelling. However, if the extension is within 2m of a boundary, the maximum eaves height cannot be higher than 3m
  • Extensions cannot extend beyond the existing dwelling’s rear wall by more than 3m or be within 7m of any boundary
  • The extension’s roof pitch should be higher than one storey to match the existing dwelling 
  • The materials used to build the extension are similar to that of the existing dwelling 
  • Upper-floor windows of the extension must be obscure-glazed and non-opening. Unless parts that can be opened are more than 1.7 metres above the floor of the room the window belongs to
  • Extensions cannot include balconies or verandas 

Whether you want to build a single or double-storey extension with timber frame construction is up to you. But if you want to build your timber frame extension under permitted development rights, a single-storey extension will be less limiting than a double-storey extension. 

Before building an extension under PDR, consult an expert like our construction company in Norfolk. 

Keep in mind that some properties cannot access PDR, such as homes situated on the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads.


Wood Extension Design 

As mentioned earlier, what makes timber frame extensions great is that they can be designed to look however you want them to from the outside. 

Timber frame extensions can be designed with external cladding, brick or cement. So, even if you’re not a fan of the look of timber, you can still reap the benefits of this sustainable building method without having a “wooden-looking” home extension.  

But we must say that we – and many others – are massive fans of the aesthetic of a timber frame extension. Sometimes, what makes a great timber frame extension design is to embrace the timber – opt for exposed timber beams and decorate the interior with rustic and natural décor. 

To help out with the architecture of your timber frame extension, you could work with a sustainable architect. This type of architect specialises in energy-efficient homes and sustainable building practices, such as timber frame extensions. 

If you want to build a timber frame extension in Norfolk, Bespoke Norfolk Group can help through our architectural design services. We’ll match your project up with the best architect for the job. 


Timber Frame Extension Foundations

Do timber frame extensions need foundations? Yes, to spread the weight of your timber frame extension and provide longevity, foundations will be needed. 

Timber frame extensions indeed provide a lighter alternative to traditional brick. However, foundations are still needed for timber frame extensions. When it comes to how deep or shallow these foundations should be, that mainly depends on the soil type and load-bearing capacity. 


Timber Frame Construction Pros and Cons

Pros of Timber Frame Construction


Is timber frame construction sustainable? Yes, building with timber is a sustainable building practice. When trees are taken down to produce timber, more trees can be planted in their place to generate more timber. So, if being eco-friendly is important to you, then building with timber is much better than building with brick.


Quick to Build

Often constructed using prefabricated panels, timber frame extensions are usually quicker to build than regular extensions. A single-storey extension built with brick typically takes 2-4 months to build. If you’re building with timber, an extension could be built in 1-2 months. 


Less Labour Costs 

Are timber frame extensions cheaper than brick? In regards to labour, yes they can be. The less time it takes to build a timber frame extension, plus the prospect of not having to dig foundations too deep means a potential saving on labour costs. 


Easier to Insulate 

Timber frame extension walls can be made to include high levels of insulation by using different types of insulation. 


Cons of Timber Frame Construction   


Material Costs and Access 

Timber as a material is typically more expensive than brick. However, with a quick build time and lower labour costs, this may not be a big issue. Plus, there is still far more access to traditional building materials than timber, but this is becoming less and less as years pass. 



As brick is denser than timber, soundwaves have a harder time breaking through brick. So if soundproofing is important to you, then timber may not be ideal. That being said, there are ways of giving your timber building better soundproofing. 


Damp and Rot Infestation 

When building with timber, it’s likely your timber will be well-treated. But if timber is not properly sealed and maintained, it could lead to dampness, rotting, termites and woodworms. 

Timber Frame Extension Ideas

If by now you’ve decided that you want to build a timber frame extension – or are at least warming to the idea – the next step is to get some inspiration for your home construction project. 


Wooden Extension on Brick House

Timber frame extensions can be built onto brick houses, so if you’ve been wanting to build with timber for some time, but haven’t had the funds to build a custom timber frame home, then an extension of this sort is the next best thing. Also, we love how a wooden extension looks attached to a brick house – it offers a countering of styles that looks stunning and something a bit different to the norm. 


Extending a Period Property 

When renovating an old home, many like to retain as much character of the home as possible, but what if you want to make it bigger? As most masonry extensions come with modern designs, opt for a timber frame instead for a charming wooden detail that enhances the character of the renovated older property.  


Wrap With Cladding 

Exterior cladding looks great on an extension and can help it stand out and give your home some curb appeal. With many different variations in cladding, you receive all of the great benefits of a timber frame extension that can be disguised to look like a normal extension with interesting cladding. 


Add Glass to an Extension 

If you want a timber frame extension but are after a more contemporary design, then introduce plenty of glass to your extension in the form of large windows and bi-fold doors. This gives off a sleek, striking and sophisticated design that balances nicely against the timber frame. 


Choose Timber for a Natural-Looking Extension 

Traditional extensions are ideal for homeowners to extend their homes, but sometimes they don’t fit certain properties. Say you have a barn conversion as a home or a charming cottage – you can use timber to create an extension that is in keeping with the existing dwelling. 


Timber Frame Construction Company

When venturing into timber frame construction, it pays well to have an experienced professional by your side. Bespoke Norfolk Group in Kings Lynn are experts when it comes to timber frame extensions. 

We’ve helped many local customers build incredible timber frame extensions that enrich and improve the quality of their homes. If you want to build a timber frame extension for your property, speak to our team and let’s get your project started.