Government incentives, which include encouraging more off-site construction to help reduce the housing shortage, has been welcomed by insulation manufacturer Actis.
The proposals, announced recently by communities secretary Sajid Javid, include the launch of a £1bn loan fund to help small builders, innovators and custom builders deliver 25,000 homes by 2020, as well as a £2bn infrastructure fund to help unlock a longer term pipeline of 200,000 homes on predominantly brownfield land.
It is the off-site element of the pledge which is of interest to Actis – a keen supporter of timber frame construction because not only are the homes often more energy efficient than their brick and block equivalents, they are also faster to construct and require fewer craftsman hours for a quality product during a period in which the country is experiencing a skills shortage.
Actis UK and Ireland director Matthew King said: “Creating a timber frame home is around 30% faster than building in brick and block.
“The bulk of the skilled element takes place off-site. Timber frame walls, floors and roofs, complete with electrical wiring, plumbing and insulation are built in factories at relative speed. Indeed some insulation systems such as Actis Hybrid, which consists of insulation, vapour control layer and breather membrane, can be installed effectively with ease by someone who has had minimal training which can even be delivered via an on line tutorial.
“As these three in one systems are quicker to install than traditional insulation – many builders report savings of 25 to 50% - this in turn also frees up more man hours.
“The site crew ‘just’ has to erect everything in the right order, with a typical build time of between seven and 12 days, depending on the size of house.
“New construction methods mean the quality of a closed panel timber frame house is often more thermally efficient than a traditionally constructed building. So moving towards a greater reliance on timber frame is by no means a compromise.”