Bellway partners with Donaldson Timber Systems to build The Future Home

January 20, 2023

Housebuilder Bellway has teamed up with supply partner Donaldson Timber Systems to build The Future Home – an experimental eco house which has been designed to test low-carbon technologies.

Leading UK timber frame manufacturer Donaldson Timber Systems, based in Witney, Oxfordshire, has provided the timber frame system used by Bellway to construct the three-bedroom property at the University of Salford’s research facility Energy House 2.0. This forms part of a £16m research project run by the university, which is being part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The detached house features innovations including three heating systems, two air source heat pumps, double and triple glazing and mechanical ventilation. The home will be tested in temperatures ranging from -20C to +40C and in differing climate conditions including wind, rain and snow.

University researchers will capture and analyse data from the home, which features sensors located around the house designed to measure the difference between the energy it generates and the energy it loses in different climates.

The research team will begin testing next month after an official launch of the home on Thursday 12 January 2023. The team will test different technologies in turn and then in combination.

Jamie Bursnell, Group Technical and Innovation Manager for Bellway, said: “Donaldson Timber Systems is the UK’s leading off-site timber systems manufacturer and as such has the expertise and reliability required for this research project – so we were pleased to be able to partner with them to build this exciting eco house.

“Every element of The Future Home has been specially selected to test and to represent the best of green technology which will be used in the industry moving forward. Timber is a more sustainable resource, and timber frames are more cost-effective and energy-efficient than other options. Timber is considered a key pillar of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC).

“The aim of this project is to find a balance between lowering carbon emissions while still keeping running costs as low as possible. We hope the data collected will enable the industry as a whole to find a solution to identify the optimum way forward for the construction of new homes in the future.”

In the construction of The Future Home, Donaldson Timber Systems installed its open panel Alpha 3 system walls in conjunction with a chipboard clad floor cassette, utilising 300mm deep joists to accommodate service run. The U value of the external walls will be increased part way through the life of the home to allow two sets of comparable data to be collected.

John Smith, Technical Director at Donaldson Timber Systems said: “Bellway were fantastic to work with all the way through the project. Their technical knowledge made the pre-construction phase straightforward. We’re looking forward to the data Energy House 2.0 will capture, as well as the feedback from the construction phase which will be used to inform the Design for Manufacture and Site Assembly strategy for our build systems in future homes.

“This type of project is crucial for the housebuilding sector to be able to demonstrate, in real life circumstances, that the products they are producing work as they should. Moreover, it’s crucial that the technologies used in The Future Home are understood and welcomed by the installation teams, as the incorporation of these technologies will become much more frequent in the near future, and reliable installation is essential.”

To find out more about The Future Home see

For more information on Energy House 2.0 see