Key Challenges Builders and Manufacturers Face When Supplying Mass Timber Products for the Construction Industry

Posted on: 10 November 2019

Timber is arguably one of the oldest construction materials around. However, for a long time, timber was replaced by brick, mortar and steel as structural strength became a priority. However, this is changing, and it is all thanks to advancements in mass timber technology. Despite this, builders and mass timber product manufacturers still face challenges in establishing and expanding the mass timber products market. Read on. 

Updating Local Building Codes

Local building codes are there to ensure construction projects follow the laid-down regulations, and failure to abide by these codes attracts hefty fines. However, when it comes to mass timber products, local councils have been reluctant to update the local building codes to accommodate the advancements made in mass timber products. For instance, Australia updated its local building codes to accommodate storey buildings made from timber only two years ago. The slow pace with which local councils are updating their building codes is thus restricting potential strides builders and the construction industry as a while can make. That said, manufacturers of mass timber products, as well as builders, are optimistic that local councils will act fast to update their building codes. It will lift existing restrictions on mass timber products as building materials. 

Demystifying Seismic and Fire Performance of Mass Timber Products

For a building to be commissioned for occupation, inspection agents must be satisfied that it will withstand sudden seismic movement. While most homeowners are convinced that brick and mortar, as well as steel structures, have enough structural strength to handle seismic movements, they are not convinced about the capabilities of mass timber products. The common belief is that timber is easily breakable and, therefore, not appropriate to be used as the sole building product. Moreover, a majority of potential homeowners are not confident about the fire performance of mass timber. Therefore, builders and manufacturers of mass timber products such as dowel-laminated timber and cross-laminated timber have been forced to go the extra mile to help customers understand the capabilities of construction timber. In fact, with the latest technology, timber structures can easily withstand certain levels of seismic movements, and most of the products are fire-resistant. 

Creating Local Supply and Demand

The lack of knowledge along the entire supply is another challenge that builders and mass timber product manufacturers have to contend with. For example, structural engineering graduates come out of college, knowing very little about mass timber products. Similarly, a significant portion of property developers is still in the dark about the capabilities of timber as a building product. The knock-on effect of the current situation is the low supply and demand for mass timber products. Education along the entire supply chain -- from architects to developers -- is, therefore, the only way mass timber products will go mainstream in the construction industry.

Reach out to a company that offers timber products to learn more.