Achieving watertight stage is a universal milestone on the project programme of every residential and commercial construction project in the UK.
As the weather draws in, we are sure many will look back on the amazing dry days of Summer 2018 with wistfulness. Project owners, site managers and all external construction trades are no doubt eyeing the increasingly windy and unpredictable forecasts with the usual trepidation.
With so many customers in the timber framing design and manufacturing marketplace, the rise and rise of offsite timber frame construction is something upon which we keep a weather eye…
The UK Government has explicitly stated that it wants the industry to use offsite and other methods of construction. Now, even more construction firms are exploring what timber frame can do for them. We thought it worth compiling a list of what we see as the key advantages it can deliver.
Key advantages of offsite timber frame construction
Our project and programme manager customers are united in feeling that the largest single advantage that offsite timber frame construction can deliver to builders is, of course around the time factor:
- Speed of assembly and erection of full building structures, enabling rapid cladding and roofing to watertight stage
- Time efficient manufacturing that can take place simultaneously as groundwork, pilings and other foundation work ready for delivery on the exact day required
However, offsite timber frame construction is a gift that keeps on giving, also delivering benefits such as:
- Modular elements produced under tighter quality control than is ever possible on site
- Relatively lightweight and often possible to transport on mid-sized vehicles, even if site constraints prevent flatbed access
- Pre-fabricated frames can be erected on site far faster than traditional brick and block
- Plenty of ‘full service’ manufacturers who can deliver end to end service including assembly
- Superior fire protection and thermal insulation qualities compared to traditional walling
- More cost stable than most traditional building materials which fluctuate widely and frequently
- Usually sourced from sustainable forestry and providing contractors with an auditable supply chain
Digital timber frame design is delivering the goods
Now that much timber frame design is digital, thanks to solutions such as our own Framing timber framing software, timber frame is dovetailing neatly with forward-looking digital construction strategies. The design stage itself is becoming faster. Designers can re-use and adapt designed modules and reconfigure them to suit the architect’s vision. They can then illustrate timber frame designs in full 3D, and export information which can become part of the federated BIM model. Manufacturers are also benefiting: they can increasingly deliver within tight, predictable, efficient timeframes, since Framing can directly drive CNC manufacturing equipment, and turn out precise, high quality, repeatable timber components.
One of our customers, Luke Walker of The Timber Design Studio, is a British designer living in the sunny climes of Dubai. He summed it up beautifully:
It’s always a challenge to try to change culture– it’s not just getting software to work, but how to encourage people to makeconsistent updates, fill in information more diligently, to get betteroutcomes.
Luke Walker, The Timber Design Studio
TTDS isn’t the only timber design business grasping the opportunity to use digital software to design for offsite timber frame construction – we’ve gathered up four great examples in our eBook about how to transform a timber design business for the digital design age.