Members of the war-time purchasing commission visited Sweden to view and assess a number of Swedish Timber designed dwellings. As a result of their findings, 4,500 Swedish Timber properties were ordered & imported into the United Kingdom, between 1945 and 1951. The prefabricated sectional units were erected by contractors working for both the Ministry of Health & Works and the Scottish Department of Health.
Many of these houses are still in good used today and their unique and unusual Norse styling has made them very popular amongst those who occupy them.
Typically, the substructure consists of concrete strip foundations supporting a 9" brickwork perimeter wall and 9" and 4 1/2" brickwork honeycomb internal support walls. Air bricks were located within the perimeter walls to provide ventilation beneath the suspended ground floor.
A bituminous felt or asphalt DPC was laid along the perimeter and internal walls. Typically, the oversite cover was concrete.
External walls consist of storey height timber frame panels nailed together. The panels comprise 2" x 5" or 2" x 3" timber studs, spaced at centres of up to 4' ft 9", the 2" dimension being normal to the plane of the wall. The panels contain horizontal timber noggins and, in some instances, timber diagonal braces.
Internally, the panels were clad with 3" x 7/8" tongue and groove vertical boarding, with a building paper backing. The boarding was then faced with 1/8" fibreboard or hardboard.
Externally, the panels were clad with half checked and channelled 3" x 7/8" vertical timber boarding, nailed to the studwork over a bituminous building paper breather membrane.
Fibreboard insulation, 1/2" thick, is provided between the panel frame studs, with the bottom rails of the panels fixed to a separate timber soleplate laid on top of the damp proof course.
The ground floor is suspended, consisting of 5" x 2" timber joists spaced at 18" centres, finished with 7/8" tongue and groove timber boarding. The joists span between the front and rear walls, with intermediate support provided by brick internal support walls. The joists are notched and bear onto both the timber sole plate and the DPC laid on the substructure
The single storey attached outbuilding has solid concrete floor construction.
The first floor comprises 8" x 2" timber joists, spaced at 18" centres, finished with 5 x 7/8" tongue and groove timber boarding. The joists span between the front and rear walls, with intermediate support provided by a ground floor timber stud partition spine wall, over which the joists are notched and nailed. The joists form part of the roof structure in the chalet
bungalow variant, which has two dormer windows on the rear elevation.
The roof comprises 6" x 2" timber rafters spaced at 3'0" centres, with 6" x 2" joists spaced at 18'' centres. The joists are notched over a 4" x 2" timber wallplate and are secured to the rafters via timber gusset plates. At approximately the centre of each rafter, a pair of 4" x 7/8" timber collars are located.
The rafters are covered with 7/8" timber tongue and groove sarking boards over which bituminous roofing felt is laid. Timber battens are fixed on top of the felt and the roof is clad with either interlocking or plain tiles.
The party wall consists of 9" solid brickwork, plastered internally. Partitions consist of timber stud framing, clad on both sides with '18" tongue and groove vertical timber boarding and typically faced with fibreboard or plasterboard. Ceilings are formed with 1/2" fibreboard.
The chimneys are of masonry construction.
A transcript of this intriguing memo can be found below the images.
Printed for the War Cabinet. December 1944.
W.P. (44) 733. 14th December, 1944.
PREFABRICATED (PERMANENT) TIMBER HOUSES FROM SWEDEN_
MEMORANDUM. AY THE MINISTER OF RECONSTRUCTION.
1. I desire authority for the Minister of Works to purchase
from Sweden up to 30,000 prefabricated timber houses of a type which would be
suitable for permanent dwellings, especially in rural districts.
2. The problem of
securing adequate housing in rural areas is causing grave concern to the
Minister of Health, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Minister of
Agriculture. There is already an acute shortage, and this will be accentuated
after the war as (a) the production of more live-stock and live-stock products,
which will be necessary if agriculture is to help our foreign exchange
position, will entail more labour, and (b) we shall want to train numbers of
ex-Servicemen for agricultural and rural pursuits.
3. The temporary (prefabricated) bungalows are in plan and
design more suitable for urban areas, and the same is true of the temporary
houses we may obtain from the United States on Lease-Lend. It is not
practicable to develop a special temporary bungalow suitable for the rural and
agricultural population, and the erection of permanent houses of normal
construction in rural areas is likely to be a slow business.
4. In Scotland timber houses have been erected in urban
areas between the wars and it is the intention of the Secretary of State, if
Swedish timber houses become available, to arrange for the erection of a
proportion of them in urban areas.
5. It seems likely that, within the first year after the
reopening of sea communications with the Baltic, we could obtain from Sweden up
to 30,000 prefabricated timber houses. At £240 a house f.o.b. (Total including erection
£800) the total amount to be paid to the Swedes would work out at rather more
than '27,000,000; and a proportion of this represents the cost of timber which
would be used internally whatever the outside fabric of the house.
6. These houses are permanent and have a life of sixty
years. They would be sold to local authorities under financial arrangements
appropriate to permanent houses.
7. One of the advantages of importing Swedish prefabricated
houses is that Swedish labour can now, before the end of hostilities, be
employed in meeting our requirements, whereas there is comparatively little
that we can do in this country while hostilities last.
8. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, with whom I have been in
communication, has felt obliged to oppose this proposal on exchange grounds. He
has pointed out that the exchange position in the next few years will be
critical and we shall not avoid a sharp fall in our standard of living unless,
in addition to increasing our exports, we concentrate our import programme on
essentials, in the main food and raw materials. He therefore feels bound to
oppose the import of manufactured goods which we can make in this country—even
though this should mean, as in this case, a delay in meeting urgent needs.
It is, however, relevant to point out that; unless we can make provision for a
rapid increase in the number of rural houses available for agricultural
workers, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries doubts whether it will be
practicable for agriculture to make the contribution to our foreign' exchange
problems which otherwise he hopes will be possible. 9. In these circumstances I
submit the issue for decision by the War Cabinet. W.
4, Richmond Terrace, S.TV .1, 14th December, 1944.
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