We build wooden houses in many countries. Every country has it’s own exceptions, rules and peculiarities. This time let’s talk about the Netherlands.
We are quite busy building houses in the Netherlands at the moment. Many areas in this country are reclaimed land areas: originally North Sea, but then the Dutch build dikes, pump out the water and build houses on the sea bed. In such areas top layer of ground is very soft and if you build on a regular foundation, your house will sink into the mud.
For this reason, the Dutch have developed a special technique to build foundations in those reclaimed land areas. It is called “paalfundering”. First comes a specialist engineer who does ground tests. They check how deep is the solid ground. If you are lucky it will be at approximately 8-12 meters deep, but in some areas it might be up to 30 meters deep.
Contact via phone or internet is nice, but before we actually build a house we need to sit around the table with our clients. So we get in the car regularly, and we make our trips through France, at this moment an important market. We call it our Tour de France. Two weeks in a row on the péage, on the D321, and when we run out of luck our TomTom send us into some dirt road. But recently it resulted in a few more projects, see the map.
This is a simple question: how do you build a new house? The answer is the slightly less simple. Do you ask for a quote with your local contractor, and if so, based on what? Is that going to be based on a sketch, or are you going to hire an architect? And what instructions do you give to the architect? Do you give him a budget, or do you give me a list of requirements. So what is actually the best way to build a house?
The answer is: there is no best way. Everybody does it his own way. We can only explain here how it works if you work with us.
Simpele vraag: hoe bouw je een huis. Het antwoord is iets minder simpel. Het bouwen van een huis is een complexe affaire. Waar begin je? Grond kopen? Offerte vragen bij een aannemer? En op basis waarvan dan, een schets? Of toch een architect inhuren? En welke opdracht geef je dan aan de architect? Stuur je hem op pad met een budget, of met een pakket wensen en eisen?
Wat is nou eigenlijk de beste manier?
Antwoord: er is geen beste manier. Iedereen doet het op zijn eigen manier. Wij kunnen hier enkel uitleggen hoe het werkt als U met ons samenwerkt.
We produce our houses in Lithuania, just East of Poland. East-Europe. And that raises a few concerns. Are these people to be trusted? What about the quality? Do they deliver on time?
We understand you concerns. Here are some answers.
Trakai castle, 14th century
Can we trust them?
Lithuania is on the Baltic coast, and has been a supplier of wood for ages. In the 17th century the Lithuanians had a permanent supply chain between Klaipeda and German, Dutch and English shipyards. The Dutch even developed a special type of ship for this trade, the “fluitschip“.
What was special about the fluitschip? Well, the Dutch had to pay toll in the Øresund between Denmark and Sweden. And they paid a lot of toll, actually two thirds of Danish state income was toll money. The height of the toll depended on the width of the upper deck of the ship. The Dutch, cheapskates as they are, developed the fluitschip such that it had a very wide belly and at the same time a very narrow upper deck. Yep, lots of freight, and little toll, that’s how we roll…
Wij bouwen op maat, dus elk huis is individueel, uniek, en buitengewoon. Kortgeleden bouwden we een modern huis en kregen we kans om onze lijst van projecten uit te breiden met een prachtig chalet, ontworpen door architect Stéphane CICUTTO GUIFFAUT uit Chamonix Mt. Blanc (contactgegevens onderaan deze post).
Usually we make a wooden house design, build it and leave an interior decoration for the owners. Sometimes they trust their own feelings and taste, sometimes they ask professional interior designers for an advice. Below we represent the best interior photos of wooden homes, which we have received from the owners after they have moved in. Hope it will inspire you!
Europe has some pretty old wooden constructions. Barns, churches, living houses, often they survive several hundreds of years. In Switzerland there are some family houses that claim to be from 1176 and 1287 , and in Essex (England) there is a church that has some sections from the 9th and 11th century.
In Lithuania we have this church in Stelmužė, at the border with Latvia and close to Belorussia. The church is from 1650. It was built with only axe, chisel and hammer. No nails except to hang the wooden doors, otherwise just dowels. How cool is that!
Went to Oosterwold with a client to take a look at the plot where we will build his house. It was still misty, -5 degrees Celcius. On the Hannah-Ahrendt road the owners of the new-built houses have put their temporary mailboxes at the start of the road.
I am not sure why they did this, but my guess is the mailman got stuck in the mud a few times, and now refuses to go into the road.
Makes a nice picture anyways. Oosterwold is beautiful.
We build our wooden houses mostly from laminated wood. Laminated wood is wood that has been cut into long boards, then glued again to form one massive log. It may sound a little strange to first cut wood into pieces and then glue it back again, but this cutting and glueing has distinct advantages.
massive wood by the roadside
Wood dries over time. Immediately after cutting wood has a moisture content of 50%, and within a few months by the roadside the moisture content has already dropped to 30%. But before we can use the wood in house construction, the moisture content should be lower than 20%. And when the house is finished, over time the moisture content will drop to somewhere between 5% and 15%, depending on ambient temperatures and relative humidity of the surrounding air.
cracked wooden disc
And with the drying comes the cracking. A little crack here and there may not be a problem, but big cracks are not good for the insulation properties.
And there is little you can do about it. Except laminate: laminating results in wood with minimal to no cracks. More info here. So that is reason no. 1 why we use laminated wood.
Standard massive wood can have a moisture content from 20% to 30% at assembly time, and the drying not only makes the wood crack, it also makes the wood shrink. And shrinking can give you a few headaches.
Here we go: the height of your house goes down from say 6.00 meters to 5,50 meters. Yes, massive non-dried wood can shrink that much! No problem, you say? So what about the doors and windows? They don’t shrink, so how will they still fit in the walls? And what about the raingutter downpour pipes? They get pushed into the ground, or they rip of the roof. Vertical copper pipes inside your house for hot or cold water, what do you think will happen where they connect to the sink or the crane?
glulam beams for roof
Laminated wood is much drier (below 18% moisture content) when we use it to assemble our houses. It still shrinks about 1% in size, but we can easily deal with 1%, we have standard solution for that.
Stronger, Longer Spans
Massive beams come in standard dimensions, with a maximum length of about 6 meters and diameters of up to 30 centimeters. You need something longer, or thicker? Well ehh… sure you can buy it, but it will cost a fortune. I car terms: more like an Aston Martin or a Bentley. But our houses are more like Volvo.
Laminated wood you can produce in any length or diameter. And that is what we do. Thanks to laminated wood, we can have overlay ceilings that span 12 meters instead of 6 meters, without a column in the middle. And that is: 12 meters in Norway, with a substantial snowload. Serious stuff.
bridge from laminated wood in Sneek, Netherlands
Actually we could go further. With laminated wood you can easily build bridges that carry 30 tonne trucks. But we still need to transport our logs, so 13 meters is about the maximum length that we use or they will not fit in a truck.
How To Laminate
So how do we laminate? We could try to explain, but it is far easier to take a look at this Youtube movie.