Can I get a mortgage on a timber-framed house?
Since their introduction to mainstream British architecture following the end of the Second World War, timber-framed buildings have become increasingly popular in the construction of both commercial and domestic properties across the country. Today, modern timber-framed houses are almost impossible to differentiate from the traditional brick and stone homes more commonly associated with British construction. And with the additional advantages of their cheaper building materials, easier and quicker construction methods and superior energy efficiency characteristics, there is no wonder timber-framed houses are enjoying somewhat of a renaissance of late.
However, regardless of their increasing popularity, when it comes to buying a timber-framed house, some lenders in the UK still deem these properties to be ‘non-standard’, which can make getting a mortgage more difficult. Naturally, this can make both buying and selling timber-framed homes more challenging.
In this post, we will run through the essential information you need to know if you are considering buying a timber-framed house and provide answers to some of the most common questions and queries.
What is a timber-framed building and how is it constructed?
As the name suggests, timber-framed buildings describe both domestic and commercial properties in which the internal frame is constructed from timber. Usually, this frame consists of timber studwork fixed in place with plywood boards. These boards are what provide the rigidity and strength in the absence of brick or stone walls.
Once the basic frame has been constructed, the outside of the building is wrapped with installation and a waterproof barrier before an external wall - usually made from either brick or stone - is built.
Since the 1990s, timber-frame buildings in the UK are typically made in a factory and then quickly assembled on-site by a trained team. This prefabrication allows for architects and builders to achieve the highest levels of dimensional accuracy and precision, thanks to the strict quality control methods applied to all materials prior to them arriving on site.
Image Alt Text: the skeleton of a timber framed house during construction
How do I know if a house is timber-framed?
While there can be many similarities between timber-framed houses and traditional brick and block construction - which can make identifying timber-framed properties tricky - there are a number of telltale differences to look out for.
- Date of construction - according to Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA) data, most timber-frame buildings in the UK will have been constructed after 1945. If a home was built prior to this date, it is likely not timber-framed.
- Check with the local authorities - your local council building control department is a great place to search for information. They might hold plans and details of the building’s construction on record, while a council-approved inspector may also be able to provide you with an expert visual inspection of a specific property.
- Window structures - a revealing feature of timber-frame buildings can be their windows. In this type of property, windows are typically fixed to the timber frame and not to the brickwork. This can result in more set back windows than those found in traditional brick constructions.
- Lightweight cladding - a classic design feature of timber-frame buildings is the render on lath or timber board cladding that is often attached to the outside of the property. The slender nature of the outside walls can be a good indicator that this cladding is fixed onto the backed lath of a timber frame property rather than directly onto the blockwork of a traditional brick or stone house.
Will a lender provide a mortgage on a timber-framed house?
The simple answer is yes - you can find lenders who will provide mortgages on timber-framed houses. However, when compared with getting a mortgage on more traditional forms of housing, there are far more variables that could come into play, often making it more of a challenge. These variables include: the type and age of the property, the other materials used during construction, your own credit history, the size of your deposit and if you can provide additional security against your loan, and the specific lender in question.
So, if you are seriously considering purchasing, or maybe even building your own, timber-framed house, it is vital that you undertake a considerable amount of research prior to making any commitments. It makes complete sense to research a number of different potential lenders’ policies before paying for that all-important valuation, while the use of an independent mortgage broker may be invaluable in helping you find the best lender willing to take on your chosen timber-framed property.