Oct 13, 2016

Offsite construction and timber systems can play a vital role in regeneration

Alex Goodfellow, group managing director at Stewart Milne Timber Systems, outlines how timber systems combined with offsite construction can ensure large-scale UK regeneration projects are completed efficiently and cost-effectively.

Up and down the UK, the Government’s vision to radically transform parts of country is beginning to emerge. Last month, the Greater London Authority (GLA) announced that £62 million worth of funding would be granted for phase two of a major housing regeneration project in Tottenham. In Scotland, the Scottish Government, together with Clyde Gateway, announced plans earlier this year to add an additional £3 million to the Glasgow East End regeneration scheme.

Stewart Milne Timber Systems contributed to the beginning of the Glasgow regeneration project, with our timber systems used for the homes in the athlete’s village for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The project, which now serves as a mix of private houses, homes for social rent and an elderly care facility, was named by the developers to have the highest design and environmental standards in Scotland for a development of its size.

Stewart Milne Timber Systems was selected for this project as the client, Glasgow City Council, understood that timber systems combined with offsite construction would offer them an effective solution to building quality homes at a high volume. There are parallels here for developers and housebuilders involved in current regeneration efforts.

For large-scale regeneration projects, ensuring there’s enough supply to meet demand is a vital consideration. Robust timber supply chains guarantee availability of materials, and offsite construction in a scalable factory environment assures manufacturing capability. For 30 years, Stewart Milne Timber Systems’ strong supply chain has ensured longevity and continuity in the supply of timber. We buy all of our structural timber directly from mill owners and sustainable supply chains like these are crucial to ensuring there are no capacity constraints for larger projects.

At our Witney and Aberdeen facilities, we have the ability to manufacture the timber systems for 10,000 homes per year, or 28 homes per day, and we can increase our capacity to accommodate larger projects and shorter lead times to meet exact requirements. Using modern factory processes and robust ISO procedures, we precision-engineer our timber systems for a quality-assured, cost-effective build. Value-engineering cost efficiencies in our timber systems can also realise cost savings for clients.

For the Government’s regeneration vision, speed of build will play a crucial role in the fast delivery of new homes and buildings. Manufacturing offsite means ten blocks of terraced houses can be erected five weeks earlier than if building with more traditional build solutions; and the full timber system for a house can be built in just 120 minutes. In addition, once on-site, a typical four bedroom detached home can be erected, wind- and watertight in as little as five days.

Looking at the longer-term benefits of offsite construction and timber systems for a regeneration project, sustainability and energy efficiency is guaranteed. Buildings constructed with timber are actually net carbon stores, rather than emitters, as timber is naturally renewable and one of the most sustainable construction materials known to man.

Any regeneration plan begins as a challenge, but making the right choice when it comes to build systems and construction techniques can be crucial to ensuring it progresses without disruption or delays. Using timber systems and offsite construction not only enables regeneration projects to be completed efficiently, cost-effectively and within precise timescales, but can help to build a community that is guaranteed to be fit for the future.

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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