Brick built or timber frame garage – which is better, which is cheaper?

If you’ve decided to add a garage to your property, you’ll be wondering which type of garage construction you should go for. A solid brick built structure or a softer, more natural looking timber frame construction?

Both methods are widely used for domestic garage construction in the UK, and opinions are divided as to which one is best. Many people don’t like masonry because they feel the lack of air circulation can result in mould. A timber frame garage is free from condensation, has natural insulation qualities and is warmer than block. Wood is also environmentally friendly and is somewhat easier to construct than a block building.

As you can see the answer is complex. What we have here are two very different methods of construction, and the final construction costs are affected by the way the structure is built and the materials used to finish it with.

Here, Mike James and Hortons UK Log Cabins take look at both building methods:

Masonry construction

Many people refer to masonry as ‘brick and block’, but they’re wrong. A masonry build is just the block bit, not the brick bit. The inner skin of the building is the masonry and the outer cladding can be either brick, render, stone, or timber boarding.

Blockwork consists of the structural walls that bear the weight of the building, set in mortar. Skilled bricklayers build the inner and outer ‘skins’ of the cavity walls, place the joinery and wall ties and install the insulation as the walls go up.

Timber frame construction

The construction methods using timber are very different to masonry. They start with the ground floor work, after which the carpenters begin on the super-structural work. In the UK, timber frame panels are pre-built in factories, so all the workmen need to do is put them together in the right order. For an average size garage this would probably take a day or two.

The big difference in building methods is the major reason why it’s so difficult to compare costs. Whilst a masonry build is comprised of walls, floors and a roof, a timber frame build is made up of a superstructure together with clad¬ding and a roof.

In an effort to compare prices, we should consider the global price of a timber frame kit and assess how much it would have cost had it been split into its constituent parts of walls, floors and the roof structure.

Cost comparisons

For a ‘brick built’ or masonry garage, the standard British block wall costs anywhere between £18 and £22 per square metre. Two-thirds of this is attributed to labour costs and one-third is the cost of the blockwork itself.

As the external walls of a timber frame building need to have a waterproof membrane and be faced with plywood, they are more expen¬sive than blockwork by around 20%. If there were partition walls inside, as in a house, then timber is cheaper than blockwork by around 25%.

As the load-bearing external walls make up no more than around 2% of the overall budget, there’s still very little difference between the two construction methods. It’s a case of choosing what works best for you.


Insulation is an important part of any build. There are numerous alternative insulation options out there, in both masonry and wood-framed construction methods. As we’ve ignored the cost of insulation when comparing the wall types – block or timber – the incorporation of thermal insulation into the wall design makes comparison even more difficult.

Rather than try to cost them individually, let’s just say that the cost of incorporating some level of insulation into either block walls or timber frame walls is relatively low. Building regulations can be met within a budget of around £3 per square metre, if mineral wool is used, or £6 per square metre, if foam boards are utilised.

In the end, it comes down to personal choice. Yes, the look of the building and its functionality is important and plays a big part in your decision,

Author: Editor

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