Design versatility

Touchwood homes are proud to be building homes that are as diverse and individual as the environments in which they are sited. In more urban areas, there may be planning constraints which dictate that the new builds must conform to a certain appearance, or clients might have a particular aesthetical ideal that they would like us to meet. We offer a number of specialist details that enable us to achieve these goals, while at the same time maintain our excellent standard of super energy efficiency.

Our pre-cut, non-panelised frame system has a major advantage over panelised systems - our buildings can literally be built to take any shape or form. This includes use of curved beams and walls, and long beams to create large open plan spaces. As an example, our Chesham project featured curved glulams to create the gently curving shape.

Aesthetic features

Our system works very well with modern architecture so that we can also incorporate traditional build features such as oak beams and brickwork, without compromising the energy efficiency.  Our solutions to allow our clients to enjoy the best of both worlds - our structure is built from I-beams for thermal efficiency, and we can then add visual Oak beams on the inside face in such a way that they do not create a cold bridge. Similarly bricks skins can be used externally to provide a traditional brick look if that is required for planning constraints.

Modern Design

Our build system is perfectly suited to ultra modern passivhaus design, as these stunning homes demonstrate:

design vers1

design vers2


Brick Skins

A real brick skin can be built onto the frame after our works are complete, or brick slips could be used. Brick slips look very much like real bricks, but instead are only around 20mm thick, so can be fixed to the timber frame structure - avoiding the need for a foundation under real bricks, and problems with bricks having differential movement to timber frame.

The image below (supplied by the manufacturer Alsecco) shows a building clad with brick slips. As you can see, they are very convincing.

Oak beams

Features such as solid oak trusses and beams give a feel of warmth and luxury to a home, but the limitions of a solid oak build structure are many, not least in that a family size home would need a lot of Oak, and an Oak cold-bridges throughout the build structure.

However, using our strong I-beams and airtight board framework, we can cleverly incorporate Oak features within the I-beam structural envelope, so enabling us to create this visual aesthetic but without the heavy impact on energy efficiency that a solid oak structure might incur, such as cold-bridging or reduced insulation and air-tightness.

Ideally the Oak features would be as in the rendered images below, so completely within the I-beam envelope, we can of course include Oak glazed elements as in our photos above but these areas would have cold bridging – so need to be avoided for passivhaus projects.


Planning constraints

Image: Bromley passivhaus designed to fit the street scene.

Many local authorities have a commitment to retaining a visual street scene in certain areas when making decisions on planning permission, which is understandably a valid concern for neighbouring residents. This also means that the design of the home has to meet these planning constraints, however, with many years of experience, Touchwood Homes knows that this objective can still be met without compromise to energy efficiency, and we are immensely proud to be able to showcase this achievement in our Bromley Passivhaus build pictured above. Low energy homes do not need to look in a particular way.