Structural Timber – the Offsite Solution to the housing Crisis Manchester 25th April 2018

The STA firmly believe that offsite timber construction is the only way to reach the specified target of one million homes by 2020. We welcome the government’s commitment to act as a catalyst for change in the wider housing market, through supporting offsite manufacturing techniques. With four out of five new homes in Scotland being built from structural timber – we know that offsite timber solutions address many government concerns associated with public procurement of housing including speed of build, environmental impact, lifetime energy efficiency and cost performance – these factors are all largely beneficial not only to government plans but to the wider community.

Following highly successful conferences in London and Bristol in 2017 - last Wednesday in Manchester, the STA launched ‘The Offsite Solution to the Housing Crisis - introducing the delegates to advanced high performance structural timber systems.

An audience of around 50 specifiers, constructors and clients, heard from leading industry experts. Simon Horn of Stewart Milne Timber Systems shared his specialist knowledge of timber frame systems, he was followed Andrew Cook of Innovare who presented the benefits of structural insulated panel systems.  Finally, solid wood expert Nic Clark of KLH, presented the structural and design capabilities of CLT.

CEO, Andrew Carpenter, discussed the construction landscape, together with the ability of structural timber systems to deliver the additional capacity to reach the objectives set out by the government.  The event closed with an exercise to consider the challenges and opportunities presented by eight priority headings within the UK construction industry. The room was split into eight groups and each was asked to consider the opportunities, challenges and recommendations for the following areas: Skills, Image, Well Being, Quality, Sustainability, Housing, Digital and Education. Some useful information was gained together with pointers for immediate consideration:

The sector needs to understand that occupiers of structural timber buildings, feel more comfortable and are more healthy and happy. This needs greater priority in our marketing campaigns.
We need a real emphasis on follow-on trades, as many of the challenges in traditional construction occur in this area.
Education of the whole supply chain, including end user clients, is essential.

The following was discussed and agreed by those present:
1. Housing is the number one political priority
2. Offsite is accepted as the only way to meet the additional housing targets
3. Timber is the preferred building material of choice

The STA has re-evaluated its position in a fast-moving market to provide the following:
1. Represents a proven and progressive panelised systems sector.
2. Raises the bar in terms of quality, competence and compliance.
3. Sets the standard for structural timber particularly through:
a. STA Assure
b. 16 steps to Fire safety
c. Timber frame competency Scheme

What was most pleasing was the desire to use more timber frame systems and a hunger for knowledge from all parts of the supply chain!

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