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STA Reveals Surge in Timber Construction Work

The Structural Timber Association has released figures confirming a record number of orders for the sector in the last year, with some businesses seeing a 100% increase in business.

The Structural Timber Association has released figures confirming a record number of orders for the sector in the last year, with some businesses seeing a 100% increase in business.

The STA itself has seen a record number of members join since the rebrand from UKTFA to STA at Timber Expo last year, with over 50 new signings including: NHBC, Alcor and Crown Timber. The organisation has also announced clients who have requested STA only shortlists in recent months further underlining the focus on quality and standards.

With over 260 members, the STA is representative of an industry that is seeing increases in sales of up to 163% on 2013 and 84% in the last three months; and this is across all structural timber materials, from timber frame to SIPS and CLT. Others are reporting between 100% and 150% with wide recognition that the increase in timber contracts is largely as a result of work done by the STA in building awareness of the benefits of timber in terms of environmental sustainability and speed of build.

Barry Armstrong of Robertson Timber Engineering comments: "Robertson Timber Engineering has seen a large increase in orders in the last year. Across our industry as a whole, the significant increase in the use of timber for construction projects is largely down to the following reasons: the widely reported materials shortage in other sectors; and the recognition that timber brings speed of build as well as superb energy efficiency - something that really sets us apart. The future is hugely positive and if this can bring us in line with the rest of Europe in terms of percentage use, then this is all to the good."

Also commenting, Peter M Keogh of SIPs Eco Panels: "We have been very pleased but not surprised by the jump in demand for SIPs. Like other structural timber solutions, SIPs offer increased build speeds on site, coupled with maximised insulation values and airtightness. These benefits mean that projects can be watertight quicker and so there are typically less delays on SIP projects due to the weather - plus you will end up with a precision built highly energy efficient build. In response to the demand we have taken on more trained design and factory staff and have put on extra manufacturing shifts meaning companies like us are prepared for and welcome the increased demand."

"I think the surge in demand has been led by the tightened Part L insulation regulations that came into force in April forcing builders to look more and more at energy efficient solutions like SIPs. This added to the desire to use a form of construction that can help make a project watertight as quickly as possible to minimise onsite delays has led to a strong increase in demand for our SIPs"

Leading structural frame contractor, B&K Structures' Nick Milestone, has also reported an upturn: "This year we have seen timber volumes triple since 2010, with structural engineered timber such as Glulam or CLT now being used in over 90% of our projects. We have also seen a 77% increase in sales on projects using engineered timber for the structure, and in 2014 our Glulam volumes are already at 185% of their 2011 value, while in 2013 CLT volumes were at 6 times that of 2011."

Jim Roach, managing director of recruitment specialist, ARV Solutions also comments: "August 2014 was the best month in our ten year history, and quarter three will be our best to date by over 30%. We are doubling the number of permanent staff placements this year and have seen a huge increase in demand for skilled staff in timber frame and truss manufacturers, plus also across the CLT and SIPS sectors too."

STA chief executive, Andrew Carpenter adds: "This is definitely the proof of the pudding. STA members are now witnessing the fruits of their labours and seeing firsthand how work put in during the leaner years is coming good. As an association we have worked hard to build an understanding of timber in terms of sustainability and performance, coupled with the relationships we have forged with other organisations. As we now see the industry recognising that timber is the way forward for all these reasons and learn that stocks of brick and block, as well trained bricklayers are in short supply, it is no wonder that the time for timber has come."

The STA will be hosting the main seminar theatre at Timber Expo, with the theatre itself having been built by STA members collaboratively. The theatre will host a range of significant speakers from across the timber, engineering and architectural sectors. The area will also feature an STA lounge, for networking and meetings. The STA can be found on stand A60.

Lucas Fettes
Mary Riley Associates
Pocket Guide