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Timber frame market about to boom, says report

5 Apr 12 The timber frame building market will grow by 9% this year and top £400m in value, according to independent market research.

The report by MTW Research forecasts that by 2016 timber frame sales will grow by 60% in volume and 80% in value, outstripping the expected pace of growth in other areas of the construction market.

MTW highlights increased market share in housebuilding as the main area for timber frame growth, but also show non-residential projects in health and education will drive demand.

Low-carbon regulations such as the Code for Sustainable Homes are cited by the report as key drivers where the timber frame industry is responding well and meeting changing market demand patterns and influences, with timber recognised as the least carbon intensive building material.

While the report shows that the recession has hit the timber frame market, it also shows that sector is in good financial health, with 60% of manufacturers having “good” or “excellent” credit ratings, and just 4% of suppliers currently regarded as being at immediate risk of failure.

The report was welcomed by Wood for Good and the Timber Trade Federation.

Wood for Good head of external affairs David Hopkins said: “This report shows that the timber frame sector has a lot to look forward to. As low-carbon and environmental regulations get ever tighter, developers are looking for the lowest-carbon and highest-performance materials on the market and that’s where timber products stand out. When coupled with faster construction times, less waste, reduced CO2consumption and of course, lower costs, timber has a natural advantage. We are working to build on this and help educate the wider construction market of the benefits of putting wood first.”

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MTW Research director Mark Waddy said: “Construction and its related industries are often hard hit during economic downturns, but our research shows that the timber industry is faring remarkably well. The challenge is to ensure that customers have a clear understanding of the benefits of building with timber, rather than being put off by the myths.”

MTW Research based its report on financial data from 80% of the industry. It showed high levels of optimism amongst the UK timber frame suppliers, with more positive signs of investment from commodity retail, leisure and other commercial applications.

The report states that sales of timber frame, SIPS, and volumetric timber buildings increased by some £30 million in 2011 with much of the demand coming from share growth in housebuilding and minimal additional demand from organic growth or non-residential sectors. However, demand patterns are likely to shift from mid-2012 onwards as commercial construction regains ground.

According to MTW, there are also a number of market-led initiatives that should boost value growth in the near term. Increasingly, manufacturers are seeking to establish closer relationships between client and supplier, with turn-key solutions offering healthy opportunities for value growth. Concerted efforts by the industry to ensure a focus on the efficiency of the building fabric, before any other sustainable products are introduced, are also paying dividends in terms of differentiation and enhancing the core product offered by timber frame suppliers, prompting further optimism for the future.

Overall, report predicts growth across all sectors of the timber frame construction market in the near to medium term, underlining rising levels of optimism throughout most of the industry.

The 160 page report is available from MTW Research for £565.

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