Timber Building: the opinion of Designers and Builders

The survey we launched in February on our website and on LinkedIn was an unexpected success: we registered 182 replies from 15 different countries! Various professionals got involved, such as specialists and owners of construction companies, with or without experience in the field of timber.

The results we got were really interesting! They are summarised in the following diagrams:

The present analysis aims to share with you some statistics that we believe to be remarkable. (If you wish to know more, we would be more than happy to discuss them with you here – don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn to keep up with the latest news!)

  • 73% of the professionals have some experience in designing a timber building; the ones who answered “no”, in most cases, haven’t had the chance (or the pleasure!, we would say) yet. This means that wooden buildings have gained popularity even among the general public.
  • A large number have declared to be acquainted with the concept of ‘As-Built’: only 30% of the participants does not know its significance.
  • Having the power to define every design aspect before getting to the construction site, is mostly perceived as an advantage (93,4%). The most highlighted advantages are:
    • Higher construction speed and precision
    • Control and verification on the whole design process
    • Greater control over companies operating on the construction site
    • Time and costs certainty
    • Advanced prefabrication
    • Lower risk of claims, accidents and variations on the project during construction
    • Possibility of solving issues at early stages of the design process
    • Chance to accurately define construction details, that are guaranteed to be strictly respected when it comes to the execution stage
    • Literally: ‘Better design = Better product = Reduced time of construction = Lower costs
    • Designers are, once again, the core of the construction process
  • One possible disadvantage of this approach might be the scarce flexibility during construction, once the wooden structure has been mounted: that is due to the fact that most planning decisions have to be made before the execution of works.
  • Pretty much all the participants (98,9%) declare to be aware that CNC machines are used to work the wooden elements.
  • 95% of the professionals stated that having ‘As-Built’ drawings ready before the start of works is a great advantage.
  • The ‘costs issue’ is quite relevant and deserves an in-depth analysis. The following table summarises the answers we got to question number 10:

What we learned by experience is that, on average, the costs of the mere structure (delivery and assembly) can vary between 25% and 35% of the total, even if higher or lower exceptions may occur.

  • 94% of the participants believe an integrated design process to be the key to reduce costs and time of construction, and to achieve better results.
  • It is noteworthy that most professionals are of the opinion that timber gives its best performance in ‘Additional storeys/extensions’.
  • In the end, what are the most relevant limitations to the spread of timber constructions?
    • Fire and durability, such as costs, are not considered to be the real difficulty.
    • The main problem is believed to be the widespread ignorance of the subject among clients, designers and, more upsettingly, construction companies.
Conclusions

There are too many variables for us to draw a conclusion with any certainty, as a matter of fact we are still racking our brains. Still, what really surprised us was that most people pointed an accusing finger at the lack of culture on the subject: finally, has the scepticism on fire, high costs and durability been wiped away? We have repeatedly dealt with this issue in the past (if you want to know more, we invite you to check out this article on LinkedIn).

What are your own conclusions? What is your opinion? Are there any results that you found particularly surprising?

The debate is open to everyone at this link.

Before saying goodbye, we would like to take a little moment to say a big ‘Thank you!’ to every one of those who wrote us words of encouragement and appreciation for the educational activity we are promoting on our blog. We put a great deal of effort in it, and we are very happy to receive your compliments! Thank you, really.

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