Timber has an important role to play in helping solve the housing crisis according to a new report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the timber industries.
The report highlights several ways that homes constructed using timber can help the government meet its housing targets. While also stressing the environmental benefits of using timber in place of man-made materials such as brick and concrete.
Timber frame homes promise faster build times
The biggest benefit of timber homes is the speed in which they can be constructed. A prefabricated timber frame can typically be installed in less than a week, with the second fix starting almost immediately. As a result, a timber frame home can be ready for occupation up to 3 months sooner than a home built using conventional materials.
This will result in more houses being built in less time and should help make homes more affordable. Speed of construction is a key requirement if the government is to meet its target of building 300,000 new homes a year in 2020. This target is almost impossible to achieve if homes are constructed using conventional methods.
Improved environmental benefits
Timber itself is also a much more environmentally friendly material than traditional core materials such as brick and concrete. Timber frame homes involve significantly less embodied CO2 emissions during production while the improved thermal performance of timber frames should help to reduce energy bills for homeowners.
Thermal performance is achieved by the improved airtightness of homes constructed with an underlying timber frame. Airtightness is the key to an energy-efficient home because it minimises the volume of air which leaks in and out through gaps in the fabric of the building.
The timber industry is well placed to meet these challenges
The timber industry is well placed to meet the demands of increased timber production.
Most timber in the UK is sourced from forests certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) scheme, which ensures timber is sourced ethically and responsibly.
While data from the Timber Trade Federation shows that consumption of timber-based products fell by 1.1% in 2018, down from 17.40 million m3 to 17.20 million m3. This provides plenty of spare capacity for ramping up the production of timber frame homes while also generating significant employment opportunities.
If the government is to meet its ambitious 300,000 new homes a year target it must move away from traditional construction methods and embrace modern methods of construction (MMC). To do this, the right policies and regulatory framework must be put in place and partnerships developed between both the public and private sectors.
Bringing together minds from across the timber supply chain, construction industry and regulatory bodies in this way will help to deliver cost-effective, energy-efficient homes faster than ever before. This should go a long way to reducing the housing crisis and help the UK to meet its environmental obligations.