The Hen House Project

The Hen House Project

Frame Technologies share the journey behind the award winning Hen House

Frame Technologies have worked on a variety of energy efficient self build projects throughout the UK – each is bespoke and designed to individual requirements. Even with this extensive experience, Hen House presented some major challenges. To maximise the potential of offsite manufactured timber technology, Frame Technologies prefer to get involved at the early design stages. On this occasion their specialist services were called upon when the project could not be achieved within budget using the traditional building methods proposed. The team at Frame Technologies reviewed the building principles and proposed a hybrid engineered solution that ultimately won the title of Timber Frame Home of the Year in the 2019 Build It Awards. 


The site is a tough one – a steep, wooded plot with a gradient of circa 50 degrees and a large proportion of the site area is covered by a Tree Protection Order. Paul Testa Architecture decided to position the foundations on the lower portion of the site in the spot where the hens used live, hence the project name – The Hen House. From the road this development appears to be single storey, however due to be being built on a steep incline, only the true scale of the project can be seen from the rear. 

The clients bought Passivhaus methodology into the process, but they were not initially committed to the standard itself. Having visited some completed projects on Passivhaus open days, this changed and a fully functioning Passivhaus was the target. 


A true offsite manufactured timber system was not the initial specified structural solution – however, it soon became apparent that only by using modern methods of offsite construction could this self build scheme be delivered. Frame Technologies designed, manufactured and installed all the structural timber elements. The structural system was designed to spread the load more evenly, in a uniformed way. This was not only more efficient but eliminating big point loads with a fully vaulted spread, offered the savings on groundworks. It was calculated that the reduction in weight achieved by using this system, delivered £10,000 of cost savings in foundations to support the robust, yet lighter weight super structure. 

Tech-Vantage E, a 140mm panel containing Rigid Urethane Insulation, was the preferred timber frame system to not only deliver the project but to achieve the desired performance standards. Manufactured in Frame Technologies’ factory – Tech-Vantage E is a closed panel solution which achieves exceptional U-Values through high performance thermal insulation.


Once onsite, the Tech Vantage E system took just eight days to erect. Timber frame construction is not weather-dependent, due to most of the work being completed in the factory which makes project planning more predictable and reduces risk of setbacks. The finished building is better insulated and thermally efficient, with a lifetime of lower costs and energy bills, delivering a true Fabric First ‘fit and forget’ ethos. 

Understanding and addressing the gap between projected and actual performance is an industry-wide challenge – the Tech-Vantage E system overcomes this issue, as performance is tested and more predictable. The 140mm closed panel system contains Rigid Urethane Insulation and is available in a variety of depths to meet specific U-Value requirements from 0.09 W/m2K to 0.23 W/m2K. 

The Fabric First Approach, adopted by Frame Technologies, creates a high performance, thermally efficient building envelope that can achieve up to Passivhaus Standards without the need to rely on expensive energy-saving bolt-on technologies, such as solar panels. At Frame Technologies their mission is to add value to drive down overall project costs throughout the build and beyond – to create a highly energy efficient home – reducing ongoing costs for the lifetime of the building.

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