The UK timber frame sector may not seem like a good place to be right now – housing volumes are down, there’s intense competition from other forms of construction and biomass is affecting raw material prices – but it’s not all gloom. The eagerly awaited Part L consultation, due for release any day now, should add a much-needed fillip.

The DCLG’s latest consultation on the 2013 Part L revision should confirm that achieving higher levels of the Code for Sustainable Homes can be achieved without the proliferation of cost.

The consultation group, which included UKTFA representatives, was encouraged to take into account budget constraints together with the drive towards zero carbon. This new practical approach is to be applauded as it potentially lifts the barrier of inertia towards de-carbonising construction. All good for timber frame.

The UKTFA has long promoted that the foundation of energy-efficient, sustainable homes begins with the fabric on which other resource-saving systems can work to their optimum. Many of our members have developed superb, highly-efficient fabric systems that are not cost prohibitive. Our members have had to adapt to the harsh realities of today’s housebuilding market and are leaner, more efficient and consequently more cost competitive.

However, often in cost comparisons build methods are viewed as interchangeable, which is the wrong way to extract maximum benefit from timber frame. The only way to get the best from it is to commit as early as possible and for the architect to work with the timber frame manufacturer or design engineer on concepts and designs. This way, designs develop in harmony with the build method rather than timber frame being shoe-horned into a design and ‘made’ to work.

Today’s home buyer is more savvy; they are well informed and their new home’s running costs are vital in their decision making. Some housebuilders understand this and are providing quality energy-efficient homes and reaping the rewards.

For the rest, the new Part L will force them to deliver better energy-efficient homes, but this already be done cost-effectively by working with the right timber frame partner.

TTJ Industry Updates are a forum for trade bodies to address key issues.