WoodBuild Wales Event

I attended the WoodBuild Wales Event held at the Metropole Hotel, Llandrindod Wells on 15th June 2017.

The main theme of the event was to talk about using more home grown wood in Welsh construction and also to promote Timber frame in general.  A summary of the speaker presentations is as follows:

        Peter Wilson: Timber Design Initiatives Ltd

Peter reviewed the different types of timber used in construction and displayed lots of pictures of completed buildings.  He mentioned stick build, CLT, Dowel Laminated Timber, pre-heated timber (Thermo Wood, Plato Wood), Kebony timber (chemically treated), Accoya Timber (acetylated wood).  The CLT example that he talked about was Barretts Grove, London.  He also showed a ‘sliding timber frame house’ where the timber frame can be moved to cover the adjacent greenhouse -!

Peter also talked briefly about building timber frame houses on stilts in flood plains.

        Ed Green: Cardiff University

Ed presented many statistics regarding the targets for new builds and criteria being set out in Wales for social/council houses.  In the UK we are targeting 170,000 new private builds and 75,000 social/council houses per year.  In Wales, the target is 14200 houses in total (there is currently 6833 private and 1243 social houses being built per year).

Ed presented some feedback from surveys and analysis of houses.  He said that the feedback given from residents/home owners was that the quality of current housing is ‘rubbish’, with real performance being up to (sic) ’10 times worse than design’.  Many people surveyed who live in new houses expressed a wish to live in older housing (100-year-old houses).  He then listed several criteria being set out by the Welsh Assembly Government for Social house builds (locally sourced materials and labour, carbon sequestration, breathable construction, affordability etc). 

Interestingly, Ed stated that 11 out of 13 of the best developments from the survey were actually timber frame.

        Simon Inksen: Head of Housing, Powys Council

Simon gave details of a new Powys initiative, which is named ‘Homegrown Homes Project – Wood Encouragement Policy’.  He then went on to say that Wales has the highest fuel poverty in the UK, with 41% of the population living in fuel poverty -! 

Powys council is working with 7 Welsh housing associations in order to promote the building of social and council houses using locally sourced timber.  Powys is keen to do this in order to support the large forestry industry in Powys.

        Hamian McCleod, MD of BSW Timber Group

Hamian detailed all of BSW’s UK saw mills, boasted about their massive annual turnover and presented lots of aerial photos of their ‘state of the art’ saw mills.  He said that the Wales forestry sector is worth £528 million per annum and employs 11,000 people in ‘well paid’ jobs -!  He made a big play on the fact that not enough trees are being planted in Wales.  He said that Timber frame in the domestic housing market is currently running at 27% in England, 32% in Wales and 76% in Scotland.  He then showed photographs of the Roderick James Architect social timber frame projects in the North West of Scotland (these are all Warmcel insulated projects).

        Robin Lancashire: Exova BM Trada


Robin gave a slick presentation on the training offered by TRADA for timber frame contractors (Framecheck System).  He said that 90% of self/single builds in the UK are timber frame.  He added that the main problem with timber frame speculative building is that clients question the longevity of the building.  He then went on to detail the benefits of timber frame (structural, Thermal, acoustics, fire resistance etc).

        Andrew Carpenter: Structural Timber Association

Andrew Carpenter gave a ‘tub thumping’ presentation and was very positive about progress being made with timber frame in the UK.  AC stated that ‘the message has got through to the speculative builders regarding timber frame’.  He said that Barratt will be building 1 in 10 of their new builds next year with timber frame.  He added that Timber frame construction has increased by 17% this year, whereas masonry construction has only increased by 3.5% in the same period.


AC was ‘super confident’ that the UK will exceed 200,000 new build starts this year and that by 2020 there will be over 150,000 new timber frame homes being built every year (current projection is 90,000 per year by 2020).  AC also promoted the STA Assure scheme, which annoyed a few timber framers in the audience (many use other systems).  AC stated that there will be a large increase in factory assembled timber kits.

   Nick Grant: Elemental Solutions

The main focus of Nick’s presentation was talking about a new factory in Yorkshire, which will be producing 7,000 CLT houses per year. He also talked about ways in which he has worked with builders in order to make Passivhaus easier to achieve on site.

 Doug Hughes: Hughes Architects

Doug is a native of Llandrindod Wells but explained that he, like many other people, have to leave the area in order to find gainful employment.  He has now moved back to the area and talked about some CLT projects that he has run with PYC (basically, a timber frame is fixed to the external face of the CLT and then insulated with Warmcel). 

  Jasper Meade – PYC

Jasper gave a presentation on timber frame systems, which are insulated with Warmcel cellulose insulation and also gave details of the new PYC factory based in Welshpool, Powys, which is now manufacturing timber panels. He mentioned the POD system contract that he has won with Dyson at their new centre of excellence in Malmesbury, Wiltshire and was also promoting his CLT offer with Warmcel.

  Adrian Farey – Elwy Working Woods

Adrian explained that there are not enough types of wood species being planted.  His main gripe was the lack of larch being planted and that the Forestry industry was only interested in planting ‘commercial wood’. 

 Jens Schroeder – Western Solar, Pembrokeshire/Carmarthenshire

Western Solar gave a presentation on the two Eco Hamlets that they have just completed.  They have converted a cow shed into a timber frame panel factory and use apprentices exclusively to make the panels. They are now receiving positive feedback from Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire Council and also housing associations and will be building more hamlets.

  George Mikurcik, Architype

George gave a summary of the Passivhaus constructions designed by Architype, including the renovation of the Twyford barn offices in Herefordshire.  He mostly focussed on the Passivhaus schools built in Wolverhampton (St Luke’s, Bushbury Hill, Oakmeadow) and also in Wales (Burry Port and Trimsaran).  These schools have been monitored for indoor air quality and it has been found that the volatile organic carbon (VOC) levels detected (they are built to high levels of air tightness, combined with MVHR – mechanical ventilation and heat recovery systems) are much lower than schools built 20+ years ago, which have high levels of air leakage.

 I felt that the event was extremely successful in promoting the benefits of timber frame and also was extremely useful in terms of finding out how the Powys local authority and the Welsh Assembly Government is looking to build more and more in timber for publicly funded housing and buildings.


By Neil Turner (Ecological Building Systems) 

 Ecological Building Systems UK Ltd 

 046 94 32104 Ireland Office
 01228 711511 UK Office




Posted on Monday, 24 July 2017
<< Back <<