Mar 11, 2016

Four ways timber systems can be part of a social turnaround

In an attempt to regenerate some of the country’s most deprived locations, the Government has recently announced that around 100 social housing areas in Britain could see radical transformations. They plan to knock down and rebuild known ‘sink estates’ with safe, attractive, high quality homes.

For a plan like this to be successful and sustainable over a long period of time, utilising offsite construction and timber systems could be the answer. With this in mind, what should be the key areas of consideration, and how could timber systems help achieve the Government’s objective?

1.    Faster speed of build using offsite construction

A fast build time is essential and offsite construction can tackle this specific challenge. Most importantly, in increasing the volume of units being produced at once. At our Aberdeen and Witney bases, we manufacture innovative, high-quality, high-performance timber systems ready to be transported on site, where a typical four bedroom detached home can be erected in as little as five days.

For an ambition of this size, scale and longevity, offsite construction can significantly reduce labour requirements, lowering costs and health and safety risks. The waste produced on site is also reduced and an improved, streamlined build can be achieved.

2.    High quality and cost assurance

Another advantage of offsite construction is the quality and cost assurance of our timber systems allowed by factory-controlled precision engineering. A high-quality build is delivered on time and on budget, which will be absolutely fundamental for this plan.

Regeneration work like this will have to continue throughout the winter months and offsite manufacturing can be a major benefit, allowing projects to run smoothly even in the most difficult of weather conditions.

3.    Successful management of large scale projects

The high volume of new homes required may seem like a tough goal to achieve, but using offsite construction can help manage the scale. Our factories in Aberdeen and Oxford have the capacity to produce up to 10,000 units per year. If this manufacturing process was adopted throughout the industry, and specifically by house builders during the Government’s planned regeneration work, it would rapidly increase the rate at which homes are built.

Offsite construction with timber systems also means lead-in times and call-off periods can be much more flexible, allowing room to adjust project and delivery schedules. These steps all make it easier to manage a large-scale, high-demand project and ensure it is completed in time and on budget.

4.    Ensuring a sustainable build

A recent industry prediction suggested that over 75% of construction firms believe eco-homes will be a dominant trend in the future. With the Government planning to build almost 400,000 new houses in this scheme, sustainability is crucial.

While the construction of these homes is necessary, how can they be delivered without creating excessive carbon emissions? The solution is to build using the ready-made carbon stores that are timber systems. Timber as a building material stores carbon rather than emitting it, helping reduce overall emissions from the built environment.

Timber systems can go even further to ensure buildings are sustainable as many of our recent builds have achieved the BREEAM status of ‘excellent’ or ‘outstanding.’ This is the highest sustainability credit offered to buildings in the UK and is an accolade required by an increasing number of developers.

The regeneration plan is going to be a challenge, but making the right choices when it comes to build systems and construction techniques could be the key to its success.

Homes For Scotland Home Builders Federation National House-Building Council Royal Institute of British Architects Structural Timber Association Constructionline British Board of Agrement Wood Campus Build Off Site Building Research Establishment WOOD FOR GOOD

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