Housebuilder – Strong times ahead for timber


The 2008 recession battered the timber frame sector as housebuilders retreated to traditional methods of construction. But the industry is in a much stronger position to thrive during the current

economic turbulence, says Andrew Orriss of the Structural Timber Association. There are several reasons for this, he says. “With interest rates high and cash expensive this isn’t the time to go for a cheaper, slower option. Timber enables housebuilders to turn a foundation slab into revenue quickly.”

And unlike 15 years ago, many large national housebuilders own timber frame companies, so it is in their interests to keep demand up. Part of the driver for this is the sustainability agenda and the advances offsite timber frame manufacturing can bring. “We will always have the base commodity of open panel timber frame. But we’ve gone through a sustained period of innovation,” adds Orriss. “The increased desire to do more offsite has led to closed panel systems and now we have solutions that include windows and façades, creating pre-manufactured values (PMV).”

The government is on board too. It is pushing for 25% of dwellings in its Affordable Homes Programme to be built using modern methods of construction, incorporating a PMV target  of 55%. Alongside timber frame’s key role in the drive to net zero, there is cause to look ahead with confidence.

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