Barratt Homes and Timber Systems


The challenge

Typically, over recent years, homes built by Barratt Developments have been constructed using brick and block. To maintain and increase the volume of homes produced to meet market demand, Barratt embarked on a project to investigate alternative methods of construction that would maintain sustainability, be cost effective and achieve the quality required of a five-star house builder.

The aim

Barratt initiated a review of available offsite technologies, from preformed M+E cupboards to full volumetric build solutions, and included an assessment on commercial viability, material availability and opportunity to guarantee volume on each investigated method.

The review concluded that a transition to using off-site systems was needed with timber frame being one of the preferred options. In order to make this move, Barratt sought a partner that had a proven track record, unparalleled expertise, the ability to consistently meet volume demand and who took a uniquely collaborative approach to its client partnerships. The result was to partner with Stewart Milne Timber Systems.

The process

Collaboration between Stewart Milne Timber Systems and Barratt was essential to the success of the partnership. Both organisations realised that it wasn’t just the design and manufacture of a product but also the change management required in order to successfully plan and construct an off-site timber frame solution within the Barratt house type range.

To facilitate this change, a ‘Pocket Guide for Timber Frame’, was developed that was specific to the Barratt housing portfolio and Stewart Milne Timber Systems’ products and services. In addition, the Barratt Developments standard detail books and the trade and build specifications were also updated in order to incorporate the Stewart Milne Timber Systems’ product range.

Stewart Milne Timber Systems worked with the architectural and commercial teams to develop the design of Barratt’s’ working drawings, to reflect the introduction of the timber systems solution, and develop a commercial analysis tool to ensure a consistent and ongoing cost assessment of timber systems versus masonry. The commercial tool is unique and remains crucial in Barratt’ ability to review the success of the implementation of timber systems on site.

Stewart Milne Timber Systems continues to rollout a training and development programme for Barratt Developments’ management teams. With each new division, Stewart Milne Timber Systems teams deliver ‘an introduction to Timber Frame’ workshop to the Barratt operational team followed by site-specific training to site managers, follow-on trades and sub-contractors. These workshops have had a positive impact on the success of off-site timber system projects.

In addition, to date, more than 200 site managers and assistant site managers have been introduced to the Stewart Milne Timber Systems training programmes at both manufacturing centres in Witney, Oxfordshire and Westhill, Aberdeen.

Barratt has committed to build 20% of their new homes portfolio using offsite technologies. And Stewart Milne Timber Systems are at the forefront of supporting this ambition.


Barratt Developments and Stewart Milne Timber Systems have introduced off-site timber solutions to house building across the UK with 18 out of the 27 Barratt divisions and have delivered more than 3,500 timber system homes.

The continued collaboration and successful partnership between Barratt Developments and Stewart Milne Timber Systems has led to the house builder being awarded ‘Client of the Year’ at the 2017 annual Structural Timber Association awards.

John Smith, Head of Product and Innovation for Stewart Milne Timber Systems said “Working with the team at Barratt Developments to implement a timber frame solution within their house range really has been a uniquely collaborative experience. There was a commitment from both parties at the outset to provide all the technical, commercial, construction and customer information required, which, coupled with the specific training developed for both office and site based teams on the changes required when using a timber frame solution has been at the core of the success of our partnership”.

Oliver Novakovic, Technical and Innovation Director for Barratt Developments said: “Stewart Milne Timber Systems (SMTS) have been a key partner of Barratt Developments across the UK over the last four years. This partnership has facilitated a significant increase in the Group’s output of timber frame construction, which is now approaching 2000 units.

SMTS have engaged with Barratt Developments at all levels from group directors to site teams to improve our understanding of timber frame. Considerable value has been added throughout the process, particularly through site pre-start meetings and trade workshops.

Design wise we have jointly developed designs, specifications and details for our most popular housetypes as well as specific publications for our teams, and SMTS are considered one of our most proactive suppliers.

Looking to the future SMTS are looking at innovative ways of adding further value to their timber frames, as well as further driving design efficiency utilising BIM.”

Homes For Scotland Home Builders Federation National House-Building Council Royal Institute of British Architects Structural Timber Association Constructionline British Board of Agrement Wood Campus Build Off Site Building Research Establishment WOOD FOR GOOD

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