31 Jan 2017

The rise of timber frame construction

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Here Mark Dando, Specialist Rep for Timber and Timber Panel Products at Ridgeons Merchants, discusses the rise in popularity and benefits of timber frame construction.

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There is no one system of construction that fits all projects as each is unique. However, we have definitely seen an increase in timber frame projects within the last 18 months for both stick-built homes and prefabricated frames. We are finding that more and more people are aware of the advantages that high-quality timber frame homes and commercial buildings can provide.

Within recent years, it’s fair to say that there has been a positive shift in the perception of using timber frame, especially for housing projects. In the past, there seemed to be a view that timber frame homes were more difficult to insure. However, the Association of British Insurers has publically stated that “companies generally draw no distinction between modern timber frame and brick and block construction”.

Timber frame construction presents many benefits for both house-builders and homeowners. With the current housing shortage in the UK, the speed of construction means that the Government has recognised timber frame as a viable solution to help it meet targets set in relation to building new homes. On average, a traditional build could take up to a few months; comparable with a timber frame which could be finalised within four weeks. Unlike other construction methods, erecting a timber frame is not dependent on weather. This allows the whole build process to be completed quicker and the introduction of other trades, such as electricians, to happen earlier. It also presents house-builders with the opportunity to increase turnover due to the faster build programme.

As timber is a natural insulator, thermal efficiency is another key benefit of this construction method. The amount of heat loss as a result of air leaking out of the building envelope is significantly reduced. Therefore, homeowners can enjoy reduced energy bills, as less heat is required to heat the building.

Timber is undoubtedly one of the most sustainable building materials. The process of producing timber is also energy-efficient, as the majority of energy used in the production comes from wood residues.

The increase in popularity of timber being selected as the material of choice could be attributed to the superior acoustic performance it provides. With durability and flexible detailing, timber has strong properties to ensure building owners have more control over sound throughout the property. Sound can be easily absorbed through timber, which disrupts soundwave energy, and therefore limits extravagant echoing. This feature has certainly led to some high-profile specifications for public buildings in recent years.

Many projects require certified timber panels, so it’s essential to check that the quality purchased matches the building material’s specification outlined. With many merchants offering an ever-increasing range of certified products, house-builders should be able to efficiently source the correct building materials. At Ridgeons, every branch has been awarded Chain of Custody certification; which enables us to offer fully certified FSC and PEFC products, including softwoods, hardwoods, sheet materials and engineered wood products.

With benefits for both house-builders and homeowners, it is clear to see why there has been an increase in timber frame being selected as the construction method of choice. What will be interesting is to see if the aggressive predicted growth figures are achieved within the market over the next few years.

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