Building relationships

23 August 2017

The Trussed Rafter Association is moving forward with a progressive voice and building key relationships, says TRA chairman Jonathan Fellingham

2017 is fl ying by and for the TRA it’s been a busy year. I had a clear vision from the beginning of my chairmanship of what I wanted the organisation to achieve and I believe we’re on the right track.

In what is often a disparate industry, the TRA aims to be a progressive and technical voice and we believe in collaborating and sharing information. This year we have seen exactly what happens when great minds join together to share knowledge and expertise. The need for collaboration among the construction industry is more relevant than ever following the Grenfell Tower disaster.


Our membership continues to grow and we have a great mix of timber engineers and manufacturers, metal web joist manufacturers and systems suppliers. Everyone shares the same goals to improve standards and build relationships with key industry bodies.

So far this year, we’ve had some great opportunities to work with organisations such as the NHBC and Paramount Safety Solutions to give essential guidance for the trussed rafter industry and housebuilders. We’ve also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Structural Timber Association and that work will continue into 2018.

Projects such as the spandrel panel guide show how the timber engineering industry is talking to the housebuilding industry. An NHBC survey found nearly one-fi fth of 8,000 new sites are using spandrel panels. In response to this, the TRA was invited to speak at the NHBC’s Building for Tomorrow Roadshow. It enabled us to share guidance and answer questions from more than 700 housebuilders. This is the work that matters and it highlights what we can do to help the housebuilding industry as it battles to build the homes Britain needs. From talking directly with housebuilders and the NHBC we recognised the need for a quality assurance labelling scheme for spandrel panels. We’re working on this and plan to launch it in 2018. The badges will give house builders all the information they need about a spandrel panel. It will help the NHBC and other inspectors, too.


With the growing popularity of offsite construction, it is reassuring to see how products like spandrel panels can help housebuilders to build faster by simplifying the process. When Mark Farmer, author of the Modernise or Die report, joined us at this year’s AGM he said trussed rafters are already seen as an offsite product.

Mr Farmer also spoke about how timber is having a renaissance. The housebuilding industry is understanding how timber provides a solution for a quicker build, its potential to drive down energy bills, its environmental credentials in being a natural carbon store, and its health benefi ts. In the timber industry, we already knew these facts. But what’s less recognised is timber engineering and its contribution to modern methods of construction. Many of our members are using BIM and this is something we will be talking more about