Here we have put together a list of our most commonly asked questions. Click here to return to the Resource Centre.
The Norscot Kit package is one of the most comprehensive in the marketplace and essentially includes all joinery components and materials.
To be clear the following are not included in our timber frame kit packages:
Foundations and walls to dpc level.
Concrete floor slab and underfloor insulation.
Kit erection (unless quoted separately).
Outer wall around kit (if applicable).
Roof tiles/slates and dry ridge/verge.
Rainwater gutters and downpipes.
Kitchen units and appliances.
Sanitary ware and plumbing materials.
Heating equipment and materials.
Electrical equipment and materials.
Ventilation equipment and materials.
Floor and wall tiling and the like.
Painting & decorating materials.
However, please note, the costs generated by our Build Cost Calculator do include everything. Our Project Cost Sheet will help you identify the additional costs you need to consider.
No, we do not. The reason for this is simply a matter of cost and management – by the time we’ve added in travel and subsistence costs it would be very expensive and managing a project at arm’s length is rarely satisfactory. Frankly, any kit manufacturer (unless they are within say 50 miles of you) will struggle to provide this service cost effectively or efficiently. And, if they do, there are almost certainly going to be delays and co-ordination issues.
By far and away the best option is for you to appoint a trusted local builder to undertake the work, with the kit manufacturer simply supplying the kit. The kit erection should not offer any kind of a challenge to the builder. We supply full working drawings and an erection manual which provide all necessary information. Exceptionally, we can provide a structural kit erection service (to wind and watertight stage) but, again, travel and subsistence costs weigh heavily into the overall cost of this service.
No, we have our own experienced in-house design team.
We provide all necessary drawings, specification, SAP calculations and kit / truss structural certificates.
Whether you choose a standard kit (with or without alteration) or require a bespoke kit to your own design, this service is provided free of charge.
Unless you are local to us you will need to employ a local surveyor to provide us with site specific information such as dimensions, boundary details, ground levels and service arrangements.
As part of our service we will also seek planning consent and building regulation approval, on your behalf . You will only be required to pay the necessary statutory fees to the local authority.
We do have an erection team but by the time we add in travel and subsistence costs our erection service is unlikely to be very competitive. So, we tend to confine this service to ‘local’ projects, within 50 miles of our bases.
Travel and subsistence costs will also be an issue for any so called ‘specialist’ timber frame erection service, unless they are local to your project. In any event, in our opinion. this type of service is probably unnecessary and simply creates another team of workers to be managed.
Most kit erection services are limited to simply erecting the structural kit components to wind and watertight stage. This is because they can get in and out in one visit and not have multiple visits working around electrical and plumbing first fix.
Unless you are able / willing to do the internal fitting out (lay flooring; erect internal partitions; fit insulation, plasterboard and skirtings; fit internal window sill boards, door sets and architraves; (possibly) fit kitchen) yourself, you will be employing either a joiner or a builder who undertakes joinery work.
There is no reason why whoever is going to undertake the internal fitting out could not undertake the erection. We supply a comprehensive erection manual / working drawings and for a competent joiner it should be quite straightforward. This way you save travel and subsistence costs which are arguably an unnecessary added expense.
This said, we have had customers throughout the UK and as far afield as France who wanted total peace of mind. They reasoned that if having designed and manufactured their kit, we also erected it, we alone were responsible for the structural integrity of their new home. Whilst this is undoubtedly true, it comes at a price!
All Norscot Kit wall panels are pre-fabricated, ready for installation on site, by others.
As standard the wall panels are supplied with open framing, clad on the outside with 9 mm Orientated Strand Board (OSB). Once erected on site the panels are infilled with insulation and finished internally. Whilst this requires a bit more work on site, the panels are lighter and easier to man handle.
As an option we can supply closed wall panels, also known as SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels). In this case the panels arrive on site with the insulation installed and also clad on the inside with 9mm OSB. It should be noted that our closed panel construction eliminates thermal bridging, unlike many other SIPs. Whilst SIPs speed up construction on site the panels are much heavier and will require mechanical handling. There is also an additional cost.
No, you do not. We would recommend you do, if you are looking for a single contractor to undertake a full build service. As the leading home warranty and insurance provider and standards-setter for UK house-building, NHBC’s ‘Buildmark’ covers around 80% of new homes built in the UK and currently protects over 1.6 million homes. And, you will need a ‘warranty’ for mortgage purposes.
If you plan to either undertake most of the work yourself or project manage a number of separate trades, the ‘Buildmark’ route will not be an option. As an alternative, the NHBC offer a ‘Solo’ policy designed specifically to tackle the particular risks of self building. It’s exclusively for people who plan to build (or contract a builder not registered with NHBC to build) a home for their own occupation.
It’s available for new homes up to a maximum of 400m² and building work must be started within one year of the date they accept your application and completed within two years of the date your foundations are concreted. But, this is not for the feint hearted and a good understanding of building construction is a pre-requisite.
By far the simpler route is to appoint a suitable qualified, independent, building supervisor who will provide the Professional Consultants Certificate required by the Council of Mortgage Lenders. If you go down this route, the builder does not need to be NHBC and any claims for defects would be made against the consultant’s professional indemnity insurance.
It is possible to apply traditional render directly onto the wall panels using battens and expanded metal lath (see NHBC guidance note). There are also what are called monocouche render systems which would work well with our EcoWall Plus option. However, you need to bear in mind that any timber structure will be subject to some movement, due to timber being a natural material.
Whilst this is more of a consideration the further north you are, we would recommend a render finish be applied to an outer skin of blockwork. Alternatively, you could have a facing brick outer skin (without render), depending on your preference and subject to any planning requirements.
While you are actually constructing your house, you will probably need insurance in order to protect yourself and to meet the requirements of your mortgage lender. In particular, you are looking for insurance to protect yourself against the following claims:
Contractor and third party claims
To protect yourself against claims for injury or death of people working on your site or any other third party.
Employer’s liability insurance
To protect yourself against any claims in your role as a building employer.
Site and Materials
To protect yourself against loss, theft or damage of building materials and your partially completed house.
To protect yourself against loss, theft or damage to equipment on site.
Your precise insurance requirements will depend on the level of your involvement in the project. For example, if the whole build is being undertaken by a single builder, it is unlikely that you will need to insure yourself as an employer. If however, you are managing the entire build and directly employing individual contractors it is likely you are acting as an employer. As every situation is different, it is essential you carefully specify your requirements to your insurer/broker.
Most self-builders take out an ‘All Risks’ policy with a specialist broker. There are a handful of specialist self-build insurance providers and you will find their details here.
Depending on which part of the UK you wish to live in, finding a suitable building plot may become a challenge. If plots are scarce focus on finding the plot first, don’t even think about your house design. When you’ve found your plot then you can design the house to suit that plot.
Most people will want to live in a specific part of the country due, perhaps, to work commitments / travel to work considerations, family ties or simply because it’s somewhere they know and like. If this is you, your task is possibly easier than if you are willing to live anywhere. Albeit your options may be limited.
Before you start your plot search, consult the Local Development Plan(s), to establish the area(s) where a proposal to build a new house is likely to be acceptable. Having done this take a look around the area(s) to check it is somewhere you would wish to live.
Having decided on your preferred area to live in you can set about finding your plot.
There are obvious places to look such as local press, local websites, property websites, estate agents, auction houses, local authority and so on. There are also dedicated national plot websites such as Plotfinder and Plotsearch. But, one of the most successful and little used ways of finding a site is to use your own initiative.
There are landowners out there who may not be looking to sell land but if the idea is put to them may consider it. Think about driving around the area and if you see a spot you like, find out who owns the land and make a direct approach. The worst that can happen is they say ‘no’!
If this seems a bit scary, think about asking the local pub landlord if they know of anyone thinking about selling land or place a ‘Plot Wanted’ ad. in the local press, shop, post office, etc. You could also produce a simple leaflet and pop it through neighbouring letterboxes.
Searching Google Maps might reveal a hidden gem which is not obvious from a drive past. Large gardens may offer a back-land site. Also look for derelict buildings or buildings of low value to pull down and replace.
A search of the local planning register may give you an advantage. Most landowners looking to sell a potential building plot will seek Outline Planning Permission (Planning In Principle, in Scotland) first, in order to maximise its market value. The application will include the owner’s (or their agent’s) contact details and a simple enquiry will establish if the plot is for sale. If it is, you are then in pole position and may be able to strike a deal before it goes on the open market.
Whatever you do, do not purchase land without planning permission. It could be an expensive gamble!
Before offering to buy a plot you are advised to appoint a local surveyor to undertake a comprehensive assessment – see the Site Assessment Checklist (available in Downloads) to establish its suitability for your purposes.
Having found a plot and agreed the price you need to instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf to submit a suitable offer, subject to planning permission, to the vendor’s solicitor.
Do not be tempted to seek cheaper options. It is important you have an independent adviser who is not only expert in the relevant legislation but also bound to protect your best interests. NB Most solicitors in England and Wales will not have the expertise to act in Scotland and vice versa.
Plots are often offered with Outline Planning Permission (Planning In Principle in Scotland), but this only establishes the principle and will likely impose certain conditions. You still need to seek full (detailed) planning permission for the siting, design and servicing of the actual house you wish to build.
If the land is part of a larger holding you need to ensure you get a title plan showing the land in relationship to surrounding landmarks and boundary positions / dimensions. This is particularly important where there are no fences or other clear boundary features such as hedges and ditches.
U-values are used to measure how effective elements of a buildings’s fabric are as insulators. That is, how effective they are at preventing heat from transmitting between the inside and the outside of a building.
The lower the U-value of an element of a building’s fabric, the more slowly heat is able to transmit through it, and so the better it performs as an insulator.
Very broadly, the better (i.e. lower) the U-value of a building’s fabric, the less energy is required to maintain comfortable conditions inside the building.
As energy prices increase and there is greater awareness of sustainability, performance measures such as U-values have become more important. Building regulations have required that lower and lower U-values are achieved.
This has required changes in the design of buildings, both in the use of materials (such as insulation), the make-up of the building elements (such as external walls) and the overall make up of a building’s fabric (such as the proportion of glazing).
Below we show the minimum requirements of the Building Regulations in England & Wales and the Building Standards in Scotland. We also show the comparison with our Norscot kit package.
|U-values for building elements of the insulation envelope (W/m2K)|
|Element||England & Wales||Scotland||Norscot|
|Windows, Doors & Rooflights||2.00||1.60||Min. 1.40|