Timber frame construction is becoming more common as builders look for more efficient, sustainable construction methods. TDUK meets Vision Development, a timber frame manufacturer and installer who is helping lead the way for timber frame construction.
Vision Development is a Berkshire-based timber frame manufacturer and builder that specialises in creating timber structures for self-builders, developers and builders across the south of England.
A family run business, Vision Development began in 2011, but the family’s connection with the timber industry began back in the 1980s, when Director Tim Karpinski, who trained as a carpenter, first came across prefabricated timber frame buildings.
His career in construction then moved into property development before, decades later, he started coming across timber frame structures once again.
Tim says: “In the 1980s we had teams of carpenters putting up timber frame houses in Thatcham. By 2010 I was buying timber frames for our developments from another company. By then timber frame buildings were becoming more common and when I went to visit them I thought: ‘I could do that but better!’.”
Thus Vision Development was born, headed up by Tim and his wife Jane. Originally the business focused primarily on providing timber frames for the self-build market, but it has since expanded and now serves self-builders, builders, developers and commercial customers right across the southeast.
Director Lucy Karpinski, Tim’s daughter, joined the business a few years later. She says: “When I first started with the company we were mostly supplying timber frames for one-off newbuilds and local extension projects. But in the years since we’ve seen the market change and there is so much more trust in timber now. We are undertaking a variety of projects from school buildings to veterinary surgeries and luxury apartments in prestigious private estates.
“Timber frame offers USPs thanks to its lightweight nature, strength and durability. For instance, with bungalow conversions, timber frame construction minimises the need for underpinning the existing structure, which translates into significant cost savings for homeowners.”
Thanks to the growth Vision has enjoyed since its inception, the company quickly decided that instead of buying timber frames from other suppliers, they would manufacture them inhouse to better ensure the quality of their products. All their Spruce timber is PEFC-certified and comes from European sources including Södra, Vida and Jordeson.
Vision’s timber frames are hand-crafted at the company’s factory in Reading, producing a range of pre-fabricated timber frame designs that can then be adapted to suit their clients’ individual needs.
The posi metal web joists are also manufactured in house, with the modular timber frame panels created in the factory ready to be transported to site.
The team can also provide groundworks and flooring, roofing, heating and ventilation solutions.
Vision is keen to play its part in creating a sustainable timber industry. All its wood offcuts are made available for local people to come and pick up for free to use in woodburners, for example, and the insulation is also given away locally for free, so it isn’t wasted or sent to landfill.
A personal service
Every project that Vision Development embarks on is different, requiring a bespoke, personal service.
Although customers interact with all of Vision’s six-strong team, Director Luke McAuley is their main contact, and often attends site meetings and oversees the projects to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Lucy says: “He’s their port of call from the very beginning. And he does more site visits than most other timber frame companies probably do, because we try to give a more personal and attentive service. We believe that this personal touch is what sets us apart from other timber frame companies and it’s reflected in the many five-star reviews we’ve received from satisfied clients.”
Case Study: Lakes by Yoo in the Cotswolds
The Lakes By Yoo is an 850-acre sustainable estate in the Cotswolds containing a mixture of permanent homes and holiday homes.
Vision Development was contracted to design, manufacture and install the timber frame system for three blocks of lakeside apartments, as well as for the six PODS on the site, which won an award in 2021 from The International Design & Architecture Awards.
The company also supplied and installed the external windows and doors using high-quality aluminium clad timber windows and doors.
Installation of the first apartment block and cabin building began in January 2021. The apartment building used a pre-made timber frame cassette to achieve a U-Value of 0.18, with external cladding for the external walls. The internal walls were closed in on both sides with 12.5mm Fermacell board eliminating the need for plasterboard. Within this panel design, there is also a convenient service void for first-fix electrics and plumbing requirements.
The cabin was built using Vision’s closed panel timber frame system which features 105mm Actis Insulation, 30mm PIR insulation, TF200 Thermo breather membrane, vapour control barrier and 15mm Fermacell board. It will achieve a u-value of 0.16.
The closed panel timber frame pre-made cassette system can be adapted to suit many applications, from blocks of apartments to commercial buildings and residential new build homes. Its speed of construction and pre-boarded finish quickens the overall build time and reduces the number of trades required on site.
David Hitchcox, Project Manager of Coln Park Lakes Construction, says: “We have been working with Vision Development for the past three years.
“From the early design phase of all our buildings we were able to explore all the pros and cons of different timber frame wall build ups…and all the effects these decisions will have on the whole building including cost, logistics, build speed, etc, through to finished building performance.
“Vision have been with us from day one on every decision, not only in relation to the timber frame, but across the whole build.
“All our buildings were delivered and erected exactly to the pre-agreed programme. The cost is always very competitive and build quality is always very high.”
Case Study: The Stumps
Self-build clients in the local village of Bradfield, West Berkshire, contracted Vision Development to manufacture and install timber frame structures for a new triple garage with annexe above, where they would live while their newbuild house was constructed.
This was also supplied and installed by Vision Development using its open panel timber frame system.
The panels for the garage and new build were pre-fabricated at Vision’s workshop in Beenham, Berkshire, and fitted with 105mm Hybris insulation, which offers excellent U-Values. Vision offered the customer a one-stop-shop for their project, with both builds offering excellent thermal efficiency, quicker construction times and reduced haulage costs due to its close proximity to Vision’s factory.
Client Matt Newitt says: “It’s quite a stressful time building your own home, with lots of bumps in the road, but Tim and his team are brilliant, nothing was too much trouble.”