There is a clear correlation between new home completions in the UK and timber consumption. Combined with the Government’s recent Housing White Paper, which acknowledges that 225,000-275,000 new homes per year are required to meet current needs, housebuilding can only have a positive impact on UK timber demand.
Increasing requirement in the sawmilling and wood-based panel sectors has already been positively reflected in the standing timber sale markets as processors are keen to secure volume to meet the increased demand from the construction sector.
But interest from the construction sector is not just driven by demand for more units – the nature of those units is changing too. Timber frame housing has the lowest embodied CO2 of any commercially available building material, while delivering up to 33 per cent reduction in energy consumption for a large detached house, allowing builders to meet tightening environmental targets.
Currently, the structural timber frame industry holds the greatest potential with all indications suggesting that this will become the building method of choice, due to speed of build, environmental impact and life-time energy and cost performance.
This is of particular relevance when taken into account with the recent Government’s commitment in the Housing White Paper to support offsite factory-built homes in an attempt to overcome the shortfall in housing stock and produce energy efficient buildings. This pledge should lead to progress in manufacturing techniques and technologies in the timber industry in the future.
In 2015, the timber frame housing share of all new builds in the UK rose to 27.6 per cent and is predicted to rise to around 32 per cent by next year. Growth in the number of all types of timber frame units also grew by 17 per cent in 2015 compared with 3.8 per cent for non-timber frame dwellings, with no reason for these ratios to change.
This is all very positive for the UK forest industry.
Read more: Spotlight: UK Forestry Market