Planning for Brexit

12 February 2019

Without too much emphasis on the B-word, companies across the sector are clearly gearing themselves up should there be a no-deal Brexit.

In this issue we hear about softwood supplier Södra increasing its stock by around 20% so customers have enough to cover any potential delays.

It has also established an Irish company, Södra Ireland so it will have two options to supply its customers in Northern Ireland for every eventuality.

And, Södra also further underlined its commitment to supply the UK and Ireland market would remain despite Brexit.

Such a statement of support is to be welcomed as some voices in the trade have been expressing concern that overseas producers of timber products might view the UK as too much trouble and look to other markets should there be a problematic Brexit.

In our Roofing feature this month, major suppliers of roof battens have been also preparing themselves, with Marley – producer of the JB-Red batten, investing in £1m-worth of additional stocks. The company confided that at one stage it had considered bringing in three times that amount of batten timber.

Another large supplier, SR Timber says that the timber industry seems to be preparing itself more than politicians, boldly declaring that its supplies would remain constant through any upheaval.

This month also sees an update on timber cladding, with an inevitable focus on the Grenfell fallout, and a recent Building Regulations announcement that timber cladding wouldn’t be permitted on new residential buildings above 18m.

TRADA’s Rupert Scott concludes that the consequences of these changes to the market for timber cladding are fairly limited, with guidance for buildings under 18m and for non-residential buildings over 18m relatively unchanged. And, as he says, timber cladding isn’t often used on high-rise buildings, partly because it requires some maintenance, which makes it a less viable option.

Meanwhile, there are some great options out there, with the product of the moment being Shou Sugi Ban, or charred timber.

Finally, by the time you read this, TTJ’s Wood and Wellness Conference will be just days away. There is still time to book your tickets on EventBrite for the event at Hilton London Tower Bridge on February 13. It will be a great day of exploring wood’s role in the healthy buildings movement, with some top architects among the speakers and a case study showing wood is being used to help worker health and well-being in The Shard.

As a natural material with great aesthetics, I think there is a huge potential for increased specification of wood products as we seek to construct and refurbish buildings that foster health and well-being for their occupants.

Hope to see you at the conference!