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The Challenge

Timber Engineering Europe is proud of its ability to solve difficult problems and we certainly found a tester in this recent job in Oporto Portugal! The brief was that we should remove a complete floor to an existing house, and replace it with a timber frame structure on a strict budget. Not too tricky we thought, then we discovered that this new installation was to be used as a gymnasium. This meant that all our original calculations were absolutely useless so we had to start again, with an extra imposed load in excess of 800kg. This means that the floor loads jumped from around, 1.5 kN/m2 to 5.0kN/m2 - that's a lot! The next problem we had was that the floor spans were too long to use full-length joists, so we had to design a steel interim beam system to take part of the load and the price of the steel in Portugal was horrendous so we decided to buy it in UK and bring it with the timber frames from our factory in Manchester. The steel was exactly half the Portuguese price even when transport had been added. So back on track, we had to use C24 grade floor-joist timbers 200mm x 75mm as we could not get TGI-Beams or Eco-joists to do what we wanted them to do economically. That problem solved, we moved onto the roof-scape, both the lower and the top roof and because of the roof configuration and the fact that the existing external walls were not square, pre-cut or engineered trusses could not be used throughout. We settled for a cut lower roof and 3 x Girder trussed rafters on the upper roof - in-filled with ridge-beam and rafters of different grades to ensure integrity.

We had to make absolutely certain that we had all the materials on the truck as the grade and quality of the timbers we use in our industry are not available in Spain or Portugal, so if we got it wrong or missed something, we would have to import it from UK which would cost a fortune and delay the job. Just before the truck left UK with the load, we had a call from the instructing architect who asked what the cost of the breather roofing felt was in UK and he was stunned to learn that it was 60% cheaper in UK than Portugal. So a swift visit by one of the factory lads to the local builder's merchants and the truck load increased by 3 rolls of roofing felt. We are not known as the 'can-do crew' for no reason!
Kelly, our partner in France is a timber frame designer and she worked so hard on this job to make it happen and without her it would have taken so much longer - so thanks Kelly. This job was so unusual and difficult, that Kelly went to Portugal to supervise the operation staying on-site for the full build programme. Matthew and his erecting team, did a fantastic job in very difficult conditions - it poured down every single day and the winds were horrendous - fair play to Matthew and his team they stuck it out and never once 'rained off', much to the amazement of the local Portuguese builders.
The installation of the kit certainly created a lot of interest locally as it is a wholly new concept in house building in Iberia, although it is the preferred method throughout the world, accounting for up to 95% of lowrise new buildings in some countries. The local press, civic dignitaries, architects and local builders were very curious about this new building and were very surprised at the speed of installation despite the atrocious weather.


  This is the subject building with the red marker showing the floor to be removed and replaced with a timber frame construction. This was on the junction with two busy roads and one of the deciding factors for timber frame was that the whole kit could be unloaded very quickly in one delivery, rather that several different vehicles making timed drops over the period of the construction. The build speed and cost were also considered a huge plus, as well as the low carbon emissions achieved and the use of materials from sustainable sources wherever possible, made this building an environmental statement.  
  The kit is being loaded in Manchester to be taken to Oporto, This journey is via France and Spain to Portugal the cost of which is included in the fixed agreed price. There is also a special size staircase just visible at the back of the trusses, that had to be made to suit the finished floor heights. We also manufacture windows in UPVC and Aluminium to meet the latest Sustainable Code 4 and all windows and doors are PassivHaus compliant.  
  The Kit is unloaded on site. This means that all the materials to form a weatherproof shell can be offloaded very quickly and in one delivery. Provided the base and soleplates have been installed accurately, erecting can begin immediately the delivery vehicle has been unloaded. Despite it’s complexity, this job was completed in 9 days. Our record for erecting a 100m2 bungalow is 1 working day!  
  Setting the floor joists 
  The floor deck is installed. This shows another benefit of MMC (Modern Methods of Construction) in that the floor can be laid even though the roof is not on. The materials we use comply with En312-5:2003 and can be left exposed to the elements for up to 45 days, provided the installation instructions are followed. Although we normally seal the 'envelope' i.e. make the building weather tight within 10 days (depending on the size). The added benefit is that once the separating floors in a MMC building are installed, they also act as a safety feature limiting fall distance in the event of an accident during construction. This floor can be tiled over, carpeted or any other finish can be applied.  
  Standing the panels up. The panels have all been independently designed and are installed in accordance with the computer generated site drawings supplied to the erecting crew. All the engineering calculations and panel designs are created on specialist stand alone software, supplied to us under license. Hi-spec insulation is installed in between the timber studs then a vapour barrier is fitted under a plasterboard internal finish. This guarantees a min 30min fire proof period and this can be extended to 1 our or more if required.  
  One of the 3 main Engineered Double Girder Trussed Rafters in the upper roof section. These components are designed to carry the ridge-beam, which in turn carries the rafters and the roof loads. This shows how flexible timber frame construction is and there is always a way to solve roofing problems and difficult roof-scapes using Engineered trussed rafters in conjunction with other timber solutions.  
  Rafters being installed over ridge-beam and head-binder on the external walls. The complete job is almost ready to hand back to the builders for them to complete.  
  All done!
Next this roof is covered with a waterproof breather felt and then treated battens are laid over the rafters and then tiled or slated over. This roof offers several different insulation options, depending on the U value specified by the building designer.  

This installation would normally take 5 days to install and erect but because of the complexity and foul weather it took a little longer and the sealed envelope i.e watertight roof and windows/ doors fitted took 9 days. The full project will be completed in 8-10 weeks and at a significantly lower cost than using traditional concrete/masonry building methods.
Timber Frame buildings are engineered to Earthquake Resistant Design principles and are Ecological, Affordable, Adaptable and Fast.

AND the added benefits are:

We could go on all day listing the benefits-but we need room for our contact details so you can send us your project for pricing.......   .

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