Benefits of Prefabricated Timber Wall Frames

Prefabricated timber wall frames offer many of the benefits associated with timber roof trusses. Furthermore a combination of timber frame and lightweight cladding can deliver further benefits including reduced costs, improved energy efficiency and a greater contribution to sustainability.

Components of a Timber Wall Frame

Components of a Timber Wall Frame

a. General benefits of Prefabricated Timber Wall Frames

(i) Cost effectiveness

Prefabricated timber wall frames are manufactured off-site in a factory environment using state of the art software and manufacturing equipment, and are delivered to site ready to install with clear installation instructions. The reduced on-site erection times lead to significantly reduced labour costs. Prefab frames can also reduce the effect of wet weather delays.

Frames are individually detailed and engineered which optimises the timber components to suit the design loads applied to them.

Manufacturing of frames optimises timber stock, leading to minimisation of timber waste versus the on-site stick built alternative.

(ii) Piece of mind for building authorities and certifying engineers

As part of a fully engineered system, the Licensed Pryda Fabricator will ensure that the critical studs, wall plates, lintels (steel or timber) and various tie downs and restraints are designed to support the roof and upper storey loads. More importantly, the ‘right hand is guaranteed to be talking to the left hand’ with one entity (the fabricator) overseeing the design and manufacturing of the entire system.

Wall Framing

(iii) Versatility of timber during construction

Timber is a material that all builders are familiar with and comfortable using. This provides for flexibility on site when foundation errors exist or last minute changes are required.

(iv) One-stop-shop solution

Pryda Licensed Fabricators can provide builders with their complete roof and wall framing requirements as part of a fully engineered system including lintels and beams.

b. Benefits of Prefabricated Timber Wall Frames with Cladding

Many builders in Australia are moving towards the construction method of timber frames with cladding, as a result of increased pressure for faster and more affordable building methods.

(i) Cost Competitiveness

Using James Hardie cladding or weatherboards for example, provides flexible design options with a host of other benefits. In James Hardie’s The Smarter Construction Book they conduct a study on ‘What’s the Cost of Your Wall?’ The research reveals that fully clad lightweight homes are generally just as cost competitive as the brick veneer ones. They are particularly competitive when compared to brick veneer with applied finishes or double-storey houses. In fact, using texture-coated and painted HardiTex base sheet is 80% of the cost of face brick veneer for a single storey home, and even less if the brick is rendered.

Using heavy weight materials in set-back upper storey construction usually means using more structural steel than if the upper wall was built using lightweight materials. Using lightweight cladding materials can potentially reduce the structural steel, lintels, scaffolding and therefore painting costs. Other benefits include:

(ii) Fewer Trades are Required

When building with cladding and weatherboard products, the only people you need are the carpenter and the painter. It also reduces the issues associated with wet weather when bricklayers prefer not to work in these conditions.

(iii) Streamlined Construction Process

The streamlined construction process and fewer trades are also a big speed driver. Block or brickwork introduces sand, cement, scaffold and waste with the associated logistical complexities, particularly on tight sites in medium density areas.

(iv) Simple Installation

Instead of laying bricks, rendering, scoring and painting – with all the associated mess and scheduling of different trades – cladding achieves this look without the fuss. It is a simple installation method.

(v) Thermal Ratings Are Easily Achieved

Framed construction and lightweight cladding can make it easier to achieve the necessary thermal ratings for the Perth climate.

(vi) Environmental Benefits

The environmental effects of building huge houses that use vast amounts of energy are measurable and alarming. Embodied energy is the energy consumed by all of the processes associated with the production of a product. CO2 emissions are highly correlated with the energy consumed in manufacturing building materials. The embodied energy of a fibre cement clad timber-framed wall systems can be up to 60% lower than a clay brick veneer wall.

Embodied energy of wall construction systems
WA guide page 14 legend

(vii)  Energy Efficient

A common myth is that to create energy-efficient houses, high thermal mass (brickwork) is essential. This isn’t quite correct. In Perth, many builders say they prefer double brick because of its thermal properties. However, the rating results from a recent study revealed that the energy efficiency of an insulated cavity brick house and an insulated fibre cement house were virtually the same. In fact, there was evidence that the temperatures in the insulated fibre cement houses were marginally cooler at night during the summer periods.

WA guide energy efficient table(1)