Timber construction trend to continue despite building regs move3 December 2018
The move towards timber construction will not be thwarted by a change to building regulations aimed at banning use of combustible materials in new residential buildings over 18m, says the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI).
The CTI’s statement follows a Government announcement of an amendment to part B of the building regulations aimed at improving fire safety post-Grenfell.
The regulations specify that for all residential developments above 18m, all materials in or on the external wall must be of European Classification A2-s1, d0 or Class A1, classified in accordance with BS EN 13501-1:2007+A1:2009. This includes external cladding and facade systems above that height, as well as structural timber components within the external wall.
CTI director David Hopkins, also MD of the UK Timber Trade Federation, said the government move came at a time when other countries were either expanding their own building regulations to allow higher timber buidings or seeing timber ‘skyscraper’ plans on the drawing board.
However, Mr Hopkins said flame retardant treated timber cladding and wood building systems will remain suitable for use in structures below 18m.
“Flame retardant timber cladding remains incredibly popular and the consultation response has confirmed its’ suitability for all building types below 18 metres. We look forward to helping grow the market for this versatile, environmentally positive material now that clarity has been provided.
“For other structural timber such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), it is clear that architects and designers may now have to look at new design strategies for the external wall build ups in taller buildings.
“However, CLT has not been banned. It is still a perfectly safe, viable building material for a huge variety of projects. The UK remains a global leader in timber design and construction so this regulation is likely act as a spur to further innovation.
“The move toward timber design and construction is a huge movement and it is unlikely that this change to regulation will halt that. There is still an enormous market for structural timber design and that will continue.
“We will continue to promote the positive benefits of timber construction, including its fire safety performance, to all stakeholders including Government as we build our timber future.”
Janet Sycamore, director of operations at the Timber Decking & Cladding Association, said buildings over 18m did not represent a significant market for timber cladding.
She said they posed special design challenges and the decision to make non-combustible external cladding mandatory for this category was anticipated as a sensible design precaution in the wake of the lessons learnt from Grenfell Tower.
"For such buildings, the new performance requirements apply to all faces, above and below 18m, right down to ground level which is a shame but we are viewing the overall outcome as positive for timber cladding and decking (since balconies are also affected by the regulation) because it confirms that timber continues to be approved as a suitable material for external cladding and balconies under Building Regulations for all buildings below 18m."