Dan-Wood, the manufacturer of energy-efficient, pre-fabricated timber frame homes has introduced a new S-Line range of six house designs into its standard offering.

Dan-Wood’s S-Line range takes quality to the next level with features that include unique architectural detailing and extra-functional design elements.

The S-Line has been developed to offer self builders an even more luxurious home at affordable prices, with the same trusted Dan-Wood design and technology that customers expect.

S-Line features

The architectural elements vary depending on your home design and customisation, but the range typically includes:

Windows – create drama with higher sash windows and balcony windows with French balustrades. Corner windows also feature, making the most of the plot, and extra elements, such as an additional stairwell window, flood the home with daylight.

Eaves – Depending on the design, the homes have a choice of eaves to complement the architecture, including minimalist or wider than standard.

Entrances – look out for designs with a cube roof over the entrance complemented by higher external doors to create a statement entrance.

Floor space – the S-Line range features spacious floor plans and a generous feeling of space, thanks to a raised ground floor of 2.67m and concealed joists. Integrated sliding patio doors visually extend the living area and create a seamless connection to the outside.

Luxury bathooms – the range features a spacious bathroom designed as a relaxing retreat, with enough room for a large bathtub, a separate shower and a double washbasin.

Like all standard Dan-Wood designs, S-Line is available with the full turnkey option. This includes the design and associated architectural drawings and the manufacture and construction of the house structure. This includes external and internal decorating and finishes, heating and ventilation systems, stairs, sanitary ware, doors, flooring and plumbing.

Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP), Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) and underfloor heating (UFH) throughout are all included in the standard Dan-Wood turnkey package.

Once designed, the house is manufactured in Dan-Wood’s factory in Poland before being shipped to your plot on your chosen date. The house itself is then typically constructed onsite in eight to 12 weeks, with a dedicated project manager looking after every stage of the process and taking care of the skilled Polish team of builders.

Main picture: Dan-Wood S-Line design Park 183s

When planning a project self builders should adopt a fabric first approach to the construction. Zero carbon homes are at the top of the government agenda, and combined with the energy crisis it’s never been so relevant to build with energy efficient materials.

Fabric first refers to the building fabric that creates the envelope of your built home, including the materials used to create the frames, structure and insulation, and specifically in relation to heat retention.

Choosing high performance materials, such as Structural Insulated Panels (‘SIPs’) means you are building with energy efficiency from the start. All other decision, such as heating and cooling systems, start from this fabric first approach.

A fabric first approach should consider:

  • High-quality insulation
  • Increased air-tightness
  • Thermal bridging issues
  • Solar gain and
  • Natural ventilation for cooling

Specialists SIPS@Clays, which designs, fabricates and installs the Kingspan TEK® SIPs Building System, shared their insight with the Self Build Portal as to how this approach can make all the difference to the final home, with the example of building with SIPs

Ian Clay of SIPS@Clays explains that as one of the most sustainable methods of construction available, the popularity of SIPs is soaring for environmentally conscious self builders.

These high performance panels are made up of sandwiches of boards bonded together with insulation, with different configurations and thicknesses available for different applications and performance.

The structure can be finished to look like a conventional build, clad in timber, brick slips or render, depending on the customer’s design (as shown in this SIPS@Clay home, clad in sheet metal and burnt larch teamed with render).

The advantage of SIPs is that, because they are structural, they can be used to build the floors, walls and roof. Plus, they have the the added benefit of not needing roof trusses, which maximises usable loft space. 


“There are so many benefits of building with SIPs including speed of build, increased living space, flexibility of design, predictable build programme and exceptional versatility. However, amongst the most important are the thermal efficiencies, low energy living and green construction credentials the system provides. This is why SIPs lend themselves so well to the fabric first approach.

“The ‘built in’ thermal properties of SIPs and reduced thermal bridging, the low U-values and the increased airtightness that the system offers, can reduce the amount of energy used to heat or cool a room by up to 50%.

“In most cases it removes the need for additional technologies or conventional heating entirely, relying on the natural efficiency of the fabric of the building. Of course, additional sources of heating or cooling can be included if desired.”

“Add into this, the off-site manufacturing, minimal waste and low environmental impact, SIPs are the perfect construction solution for all self-build projects, including those being built to achieve Passivhaus accreditation.

So, if you’re at the start of your self-build journey and want to build a low or zero carbon home, ensure you adopt a ‘fabric first’ approach from the outset.

Member update: SIPS@Clays

For more on the Fabric First approach, check out Homebuilding & Renovating magazine and Build It magazine’s features on the subject. Or visit out Build Methods section. 

Timber frame manufacturer Oakwrights specialises in oak framed buildings, which are held in high value for their timeless appeal by many self builders. If you want to find out more Oakwrights has a series of open days coming up in the summer for anyone wanting to experience its builds first hand.

Self builders considering an oak frame can visit the home of a self builder on the 2-3 June in Hampshire or Ayrshire, or in Herefordshire on 14-15 July to see two cottage-style oak frame homes close up.

The open days give you an opportunity to visit a real home built to the specification of its owners, with the self-builders introducing their project, sharing experiences and tips to support you in deciding whether timber frame is right for you.

As well as the owners, there will be a team member from Oakwrights available to answer your questions about building with oak.

On the 2nd and 3rd June you can choose to join Oakwrights in either Hampshire where you will meet homeowners Neil and Linn (whose home is pictured), or Ayrshire where you will meet builders Karen and Iain.

Alternatively, on  the 14-15 July Oakwrights’ head office in Herefordshire will be open, where self-builders Charlie and Helen, and Craig and LB will open the doors to their homes, Church Cottage and Manuka Cottage.

In addition and available on request, visitors book to see our Show Home ‘The Woodhouse’ and join an organised tour of our the workshops where the oak frames and encapsulation panels are prefabricated.

More sites will be open in Autumn, including in Warwickshire, Essex and Ayrshire – visit the Events page for details.

Custom build with Oakwrights

In addition to one off self builds, Oakwrights also has a range of custom build sites with plot opportunities for under between 2-10 homes, find out more the plot opportunities on offer on its website. 

Ecology Building Society has launched a new range of mortgages designed for homes built using modern methods of construction (MMC), ideal for self and custom builders.

Its new Off-site Build products have four initial modular manufacturers signed, including Agile Homes (garden room, below), HebHomes (night image below), nHouse Commercial and R. House (main picture), with more to follow.

A long-standing NaCSBA member, Ecology Building Society specialises in mortgages that support energy efficient homes and better building, with over 40 year’s of experience in the market.

What is MMC?

Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) refers to systems that are manufactured offsite in a factory, and they can involve a range of approaches, such is insulated concrete formwork or timber frame. In this case the new products are for panel-based modular manufacturers offering whole home systems.

These systems use panellised units that are made off-site in the factory before being assembled on-site. It is a system that can easily create an energy-efficient home, with significantly quicker construction times, improved and more consistent build quality and a lower carbon footprint achieved by reducing transport emissions, using more sustainable building materials and reducing construction waste.

Self and custom builders can choose an arrears payment product, or, for the first time, an advanced payment mortgage secured against the panels while they are being manufactured in the factory. Ecology believes this will make it easier for more people to access mortgage finance for such MMC builds.

House building is going to become more sustainable as government now recognises the urgent need to reduce the carbon impact of house building. It wants new homes to reduce their carbon emissions by 75% by 2025.

Gareth Griffiths, Ecology’s Chief Executive said: “Decarbonising our homes is key to meeting our net-zero ambitions. Now, more than ever, it’s important that lenders play an active role in incentivising green building and helping to reduce energy bills.

“We hope that our new mortgages will help scale-up modern methods of construction to deliver more homes built to higher energy-efficiency standards.

“The introduction of the ‘advanced payment’ mortgage option is an exciting first for Ecology, making energy efficient off-site build homes more accessible for those borrowers who may require up-front funding.

“Our innovative approach, to secure our lending, in advance, on the modular panels while they are in the factory, has the potential to be a game-changer, helping to realise the environmental benefits of off-site construction, which will be critical in the fight against climate change.”

Chelwood, a replacement dwelling commissioned by a family wanting a modern home, has won the Brick Awards 2022 category for Individual Housing Development.

To support the planning application, which can be hard to achieve in the area around Chesham Bois in Amersham, Napier Clarke Architects came up with a design that drew heavily on the local vernacular.

As such, the design reflects the special character status of the neighbourhood, taking into account the rhythm and scale of the surrounding homes. The triangulated folded vaulted roof gives a minimal external scale that feels more like a triple-gabled traditional home.

Handmade local brick was used for the upper storeys, combined with the use of local charred timber for the ground, to create a concept that was both contemporary and referenced the previous house that was on the site. The facade is constructed from highly insulated panels, with the brick and timber skin on top.

The judges commented this was, “a combination of creative design and well-executed brickwork”.

New sustainable open market design

It was also welcome to see the Brick Awards celebrating sustainable building technology with the Barratt Zed House at the University of Salford Campus, Manchester scooping the Sustainability Award for a residential property.

Zed house by barratt homes
Barratt's Zed House

Zed House is the flagship zero carbon home concept of Barratt Homes, developed in conjunction with Salford University, which could become a blueprint for better-built housing.

While custom and self builders have acted as champions for sustainability, there is a wider call for market housing to become better, and Zed House is an excellent prototype for the industry.

As such, it is the first new home in England built by a major housebuilder that goes beyond the new Future Homes Standard by delivering a carbon reduction of 125 per cent. The house features cutting edge technology such as overhead infrared panels that provide instant zero carbon heat and new air powered showers that will save money in water and heating bills.

Check out Homebuilding & Renovating’s excellent take on the Future Homes Standard and what it means for self builders.

About the Brick Awards

Run by the Brick Association, the Brick Awards annually celebrate the best design and builds that use brick, which remains one of the UK’s most popular building materials. If you’re researching design for a self build then industry awards offer a great insight into some of the best examples of design and innovative use of materials – and are well worth reviewing.

The Brick Association says: “Bricks, on average, constitute 70 per cent of the appearance of a building, but only four per cent of the cost. They make the soundest economic sense, especially as they are incredibly easy to maintain.”

Credit: Brick Association/Barratt/Napier Clarke Architects


Potton has transformed its Caxton showhome with a design makeover to mark its 30 years as the founding property in the Potton Self Build Show Centre in St Neots, Cambridgeshire.

Many aspiring self builders in England have made the trip to see Potton’s well-know Show Centre where they can experience the five furnished show properties. The builds showcase a range of styles, from a contemporary passive house to traditional classics, such as its popular Georgian-style home.

Caxton’s makeover

If you can’t get to the show centre in person, check out the gallery for a preview of the redesign. Not only does this demonstrate how a traditional framed self-build can age gracefully, but it inspires visitors about how they can combine classic self build features with a fresh modern take.

Based on a dormer cottage, the Caxton has always been a popular design for Potton – inspiring many similar homes. Potton can recreate the homes at the show centre, or tailor them with infinite permutations to create the ideal home for your needs.

Potton chose Zoe Godbold from ic7design – a self builder herself – for the redesign, with the brief to make a space that suited modern living trends, that could work equally well for a growing family or couple looking to downsize.

Zoe’s clever use of colour blocking, paired with contemporary accent wallpapered walls, ensure the design was on point while maintaining the cottage-vibe that is essential to this much loved design. This helped keep the finished look both cosy and welcoming while packed with personality.

Zoe wanted to make the most of the exposed beams, an essential part of the look, using them to define three distinctive spaces in the kitchen/dining space by creating a snug area to relax in, a hub around the kitchen island, and the dining area for entertaining.

The designs are completed with a lighting scheme incorporating lamps, uplighters, downlights and dimmers to bring drama and warmth to the rooms.


Clever takeaway tips from the Caxton

Paint skirting, architraves and doors the same shade or colour as other woodwork, such as beams, to bring the design together.  This can be picked up with furniture and fittings details, such as legs or shelves.

Limit wood tones to make designs pull together or use bold contrasting shades to emphasise a design feature.

Pick up colours from integral features – such as the Caxton’s fireplace – to pull room colour schemes together. 

Choose a metal accent colour and repeat it across the house if planning a self build, such as the black wrought iron which is used on door furniture, lighting and bath fittings here. 

Consider rooms that have more than one function, to make sure the house can adapt to a range of users. For example, incorporating quiet corners, spaces for work or hobbies or by using clever furniture, such as bookcase headboards, as these can make bedrooms work much harder. 

Guest rooms offer a chance to create a really special space, with their own personality – don’t be afraid to be bold with your choices and create a space you might not choose for your own bedroom. 

Paint colour can be a cost-effective way to inject personality and drama – try large test patches to get a sense of the colour before investing, as it will look different in different spaces.

Email to find out more about Zoe’s work

Responding to the need for a bespoke architect-designed home without the cost of commissioning from scratch, Lynn Palmer Architects has launched BluPrint, a suite of pre-designed homes that self builders can purchase.

BluPrint came into being when Director Lynn Palmer, identified a gap in the market between the package companies customisable homes and a one-off architect commissioned home. 

Not all price-sensitive self builders can afford to commission an architect from scratch, but still want to access the benefits that working with an architectural practice can deliver. 

Key to this is delivering homes that have sustainability at their heart from the design stage, and are able to meet the challenges of more energy-efficient homes in the future.

This led to the idea of BluPrint, a catalogue of three pre-designed homes – with more to come – that can be adapted to suit the buyer’s needs. 

The practice states that the advantages of this route is that it makes self build easier as much of the predesign work has taken place, meaning that the cost of this element is optimised. This is achieved as each design is costed as designed, rather than taking a bespoke approach, offering the equivalent savings that could be achieved when building at scale.

This can deliver up to 40% savings on professional fees, says the practice, which benefits the buyers, although the more the designs are amended the more the costs will increase to reflect this work.

Initial design work, pricing and planning are factored in to the plans to give buyers a starting point, and empowering them with the option to customise the design in the full knowledge of the cost implications that amendments will have. This supports informed decision making.

The homes are ideally suited to serviced plots sites, something NaCSBA is expecting to see more of, as increasing numbers of local authorities create policy that sets out to support custom and self build locally. Palmer expects the initial market to be buyers at Graven Hill, but the model is flexible and will work in a range of areas across the UK, as well as on single plots (planning allowing).

The designs of the three homes already created include a variety of modern approaches suitable to a range of budgets, in particularly the double gabled design, where the each wing can be pushed up or back to tailor the home to the buyer’s budgets and preferences.

One of the benefits of the route are that the designs can help speed up the process, by getting many of the elements needed for the planning submission ready in good time.
With all the designs the structural and energy calculations are pre-worked out, and this can put you six months further along on the process of preparing for your planning submission, states the practice.

BluPrint B2 cube home
The B2 Cube House design
BluPrint B2 home
The B2 Twin Gables design

Lynn Palmer Architects has teamed up with English Brothers to deliver the homes, both trusted NaCSBA members, and this partnership is another reason why the cost savings can be secured. What’s more, the homes are designed with as many costs factored in as possible, in advance, to empower people about the reality behind their build.
In addition, the homes are designed with sustainability at their heart, creating homes that not only look beautiful but are fit for the future.

What the package includes:

  • Architectural design planning package
  • Architectural Building Regulation package
  • Timber frame design and structural details
  • Whole house energy solution, including UFH layouts, MVHR design, air source design and specification
  • SAP calculations and energy report
  • Quantity surveyor cost plan

“We’re really excited to have launched these homes, as BluPrint represents a genuine saving for consumers, with the designs providing a flexible alternative to the bespoke route, that encapsulates many of the costs, and the implications of design changes. This will empower people, helping them with the process of creating their ideal home, while balancing the realities of their budget with their ambition.

“Our designs offers self builders a new route to building, while the reputation of English Brothers meaning that buyers can trust the process from start to finish.”

Have a look at the catalogue here

Prices vary depending on plot location and topography, but construction start from £505,500 for the B1 Linear House design, shown at the top. This includes an allowance for everything from foundations to kitchens.

Find the right NaCSBA member for your project

Timber frame home supplier Scandia-Hus has added a brand new show home – the Mulberry – to its site in West Sussex. Self-builders can book a visit to the new house, which officially opens on the 19 March, at its show centre just outside of East Grinstead. 

With over 45 years experience in timber frame homes, Scandia-Hus has become a trusted name in the package manufacture sector, creating energy-efficient properties and sharing their expertise with self-builders. 

A visit to the show centre gives would-be builders the chance to see a Scandia-Hus first hand, as well as the opportunity to discuss their project with the knowledgeable team. Visitors can also book a one-to-one consultation with experienced Project Managers to discuss their own project. 

Visitors can experience and research a range of products, including windows, doors, kitchens, and underfloor heating, and see how the homes feel to walk around as spaces. 


With its Scandinavian roots, Scandia-Hus has built a reputation for combining Swedish technology with British architectural style and craftsmanship. 

The timber used is sustainably sourced and is fabricated to create an airtight structure that works well with many renewable energy technologies.

To demonstrate how these work, the eco-friendly Mulberry runs on an air source heat pump, whilst the adjacent property utilises a ground source heat pump, popular solutions that can help reduce carbon emissions.

The new build is one of three properties at the Scandia-Hus show centre, which also includes the contemporary Adelia and the traditionally styled Oakleigh.

The Structural Timber Association (STA) has published a new guide for consumers, Mortgages for Timber Self Build Homes, to support anyone wishing to commission their own home with timber.

The Grenfell Fire triggered a crisis for cladding, which inevitably became wrongly associated with issues around timber in general as a build system, and resulted in some self builders questioning their choices around timber.

However, timber is a universal choice for housing across the world, and evidences great longevity when specified and built properly.

Self build has traditionally embraced a range of innovative housing choices – and timber remains a trusted and practical approach for a range of applications on owner commissioned homes – not least timber frames.

To alleviate concerns about the mortgageability of such methods, the Structural Timber Association has published a guide that addresses concerns and sets out the parameters for anyone building with wood.

The guide points out that the idea that timber systems are difficult to mortgage is a myth. Instead, it stresses the fact that self builders must follow the rules lenders set around features such as cladding, as with any mortgage, as this sets the parameters for the risk to the mortgage company. This ensure that the resale value is protected.

The guide explains how these principles are applied by mortgage lenders, and what the rules mean for your choices. It also helps you understand how you can ensure that your design complies with your lender’s eligibility rules.

The STA has a library section that includes a range of helpful guidance for both professionals and consumers (search for self build in the box) around the use of structural timber in properties, including:

In addition to the new guide – part of a range, the STA runs its own accreditation scheme for its members, STA Assure. By choosing a company that a company that is accredited by the scheme self builders can have confidence that their supplier is competent and qualified to the latest standards.


About STA Assure

The STA Assure Membership and Quality Standards Scheme sets performance levels of STA members and non-members, based on a rigorous and independent audit. This safeguards the self builder, enabling them to partner with reputable company for their build,

STA Assure is recognised by the NHBC and six of the industry’s leading structural warranty and building control bodies – LABC Warranty, Premier Guarantee, Protek Warranty, Build-Zone, Self-Build Zone and ABC+ Warranty.

The guide is free to access upon registration. Read the mortgage guide, or find a Structural Timber Association member for your build.

NaCSBA Member Message

Package home design and build firm Baufritz has been awarded a local Cambridgeshire business award in the category of Architectural Design Company of the Year 2020, for its Treehouse home.

For anyone looking for a company to design and build their self build home, industry awards are a great way of establishing the reputation of a company and its work, in the same way as viewing their gallery of case studies. Both offer an insight into the quality and reliability of the company.

Choosing the manufacturer and/or builder of your future project is one of the biggest decisions that you will make on a self build, with the biggest price tag. So getting it right is crucial, and awards can be a good piece of additional evidence.

Don’t be afraid of asking a package manufacturer if you can visit one of their built homes, or even whether they have show houses or open houses available to visit. For example, buyers of a Baufritz can, by appointment, visit its factory in Germany, to support them with the process of choosing design elements (but buyers must either have a plan or plot first). They can even choose to stay in one of Baufritz’s houses as means of trying the home, with a range of homes across the county to rent/experience.

Oliver Rehm, CEO of Baufritz in Cambridge said: “We are delighted to have won this local business award, which recognises our involvement and commitment towards the community since the arrival of Baufritz in the UK in 2006. It also proves that our approach to create prefabricated and sustainable eco houses of the highest quality are as sought after in the UK as they are in the rest of Europe.”

The Cambridgeshire Prestige Awards recognise businesses located in the East of England that provide a personal approach towards their customers to maintain a high quality level of service and experience. The judging panel based their decisions upon areas such as service excellence, quality of the product/ service provided, innovative practices, value, ethical or sustainable methods of working, as well as consistency in performance.

“Baufritz built our extraordinary eco family house in Central Cambridge five years ago. Every single day we express our disbelief and grateful thanks that we live in this gorgeous space. It truly is a modern house with soul.” Owner of Treehouse Cambridge

The Treehouse will be featured as part of Cambridge’s Open Eco Homes event – online this year due to Covid.

Check out the timelapse video of the Cambridge Treehouse being built on site