BM TRADA’s frameCHECKtimber frame consultancy specialists inspect and report on timber frame elements to help ensure that your building is being constructed in accordance with the specification and best practice.

What is timber frame construction?

Timber frame is a method of construction. It is not a system of building, although there are a number of well researched systems which use timber frame as a basis.

Timber frame construction uses timber studs and rails, together with a structural sheathing board, to form a structural frame which transmits all vertical and horizontal loads to the foundations.

Platform frame is the most commonly used method in the UK. Each storey is framed with floor-to-ceiling height panels and the floor deck of one floor becomes the erection platform of the next.

frameCHECK✔ timber frame consultancy services

BM TRADA's frameCHECK✔ timber frame consultancy service specifically looks at:

  • Timber frame detailing
  • Durability
  • Fire resistance
  • Acoustic performance
  • Thermal performance.

And includes:

  • Timber frame training
  • Timber frame publications
  • Design detail evaluation 
  • Site inspections
  • Defect and remedial consultancy.

frameCHECKcan be carried out during the construction process, or on completed or stalled projects, giving you assurance that the timber frame building you have commissioned is being built correctly and to your requirements. This specialist service aims to help improve the quality of build, reduce call backs and confirm compliance.

Who would benefit from frameCHECK✔ timber frame consultancy?

  • Affordable housing providers
  • House builders
  • Developers
  • Warranty and control bodies
  • Architects.

Benefits of frameCHECK

  • Improve quality – an expert pair of eyes overlooking the build process
  • Increase performance – suggest best practice details to exceed current regulations
  • Save money – identify efficient construction methods and order of work
  • Reduce call backs – train people how to do a job right first time
  • Demonstrate compliance – assess materials and building systems against standards.

Your timber frame construction FAQs answered

If you cannot find the answer to your query below, please contact our free Timber Technical Helpline (Mon-Fri 9-5pm) on 01494 840 774 for further advice.

  • SIPs (structural insulated panels) consist of a layer of oriented strand board (OSB) bonded onto each side of an insulating foam core. These composite engineered products can be used as a structural loadbearing element.
  • CLT (cross-laminated timber) uses wood panels in which the thickness is made up of a number of narrow widths of timber laid together with each layer at right angles to the previous layer. These panels can be pre-cut in the factory to form wall, roof and floor elements.
  • Engineered stud is a simple way to allow a large depth of insulation to be installed between the loadbearing timber studs used for timber frame wall panels. A number of different types of engineered stud are available, using either I-joist or metal web joist designs.
  • Twin stud is two timber frame stud walls in parallel, separated by a cavity, but only one of these carries the vertical load of the building.

The BM TRADA publication Innovative timber construction: New ways to achieve energy efficiency gives comprehensive information on each of these timber building methods.

All forms of construction need to comply with the fire performance requirements laid down by national building regulations. Timber frame dwellings have no difficulty in meeting the required levels, given correct design, standards of manufacture and workmanship. The following are important considerations:

  • Internal linings, usually plasterboard, limit the potential for a fire to develop and provide the period of fire resistance required by the building regulation.
  • Cavity barriers prevent a fire from entering a cavity and prevent a fire from escaping to an adjacent cavity zone. Their correct installation on a timber frame site is of paramount importance.

Further guidance

Sole plates are a very important element in a timber frame building. As the first timber frame components installed on site, their installation has a direct effect on the building’s service life, line, level and plumb, as well as contributing to the speed of construction. Sole plates are an accurate jig for setting out the timber structure, and transfer loads to the foundations through bearing and with the aid of fixings.


  • They must be level and correctly laid out to the sole plate drawing, installed to the structural engineer’s specifications.
  • They should be preservative treated.
  • All timber, including sole plates, must be at least 150mm above external finished ground level.

Further requirements and information can be found in the BM TRADA Wood Information Sheet Sole plates in timber frame construction.

Current timber frame construction incorporates high levels of insulation within structural elements, but clients are now seeking designs that can deliver improved thermal performance. This can be achieved by using:

  • deeper solid timber studs
  • deep engineered timber studs (typically timber I-joists or open web joists)
  • additional layers of insulation material (internally or externally)
  • novel construction methods such as SIPs.

Options for improving the thermal performance of existing timber frame buildings include:

  • improving airtightness
  • increasing roof insulation
  • upgrading windows
  • adding floor insulation
  • upgrading wall insulation.

See the BM TRADA publication Timber frame construction: Designing for high performance 5th edition and the Wood Information Sheet Improving the thermal performance of existing timber frame buildings for detailed information on the options available and how to implement them.