Blue Designs - Architectural Designers

 Timber Frame  Construction

Apart from the beauty and charm of timber inside the home, the material has proven to be most suitable for use in the structure of a dwelling.  For centuries timber frame construction has been the preferred choice of construction in countries the world over, and in the last two decades, South Africans have become aware of the tremendous advantages of building with timber.  One only has to look around areas such as Western, Southern and Eastern Cape as well as KZN where many developments have been built exclusively in timber as well as many timber homes to see how extremely popular this versatile method of construction has become, but not only in the coastal regions – Gauteng, Bloemfontein and Mpumalanga too are boasting an upsurge in the demand for timber homes as an alternative to the conventional brick and mortar structures.

Timber is light weight, renewable natural resource and acts as a carbon sink, similar to a sponge.  It absorbs and holds carbon – in fact timber is made of carbon and has the lowest carbon cost of any building material.  For every cubic metre of tree, 1 ton of carbon is extracted from the environment.  The absorbed carbon is converted into oxygen, creating a neutral carbon effect as it gives back to nature.  Timber holds and converts more Carbon in it’s lifetime than the combined CO2 and energy emissions during the project.  The only time that timber releases carbon into the atmosphere is when it decomposes or burns.  A timber frame house will hold approximately 0.8 tons of carbon per m2. 

It is known that for every tree cut down in a well maintained certified forest two trees are planted, thus multiplying the availability of the resource and adding to the future benefit of the environment.  No wonder 90% of the developed world lives in timber frame homes – it’s clean, natural and safe to the environment.  Ecologically and environmentally, wood products are renewable, biodegradable, recyclable, power effective and extremely attractive.

Wood is an eminently workable building material that produces spectacular results limited only by the skill and knowledge of the artisan and designer.  Technology has advanced to the extent that wood can be used in the most extreme climatic and environmental conditions.  Modern timber preservative processes virtually guarantee the durability and longevity of construction grade timber, which normally would be exposed to attack by insects and fungal decay.  Not withstanding this, there are many examples around the world including South Africa, of timber buildings that were built centuries ago, which are still being lived in today.

Because of the growing confidence in this technology, design considerations have broadened to include the use of wood in upmarket homes, schools, office complexes and public buildings as well as the traditional holiday home market.  Architects, Designers and Engineers concur that timber offers the most amazing flexibility in design and structural integrity.  From the harsh dryness of South Africa’s interior to the moist, humid coastal regions, timber frame construction is an outstanding performer, offering a host of very real benefits.

Some of the immediate advantages are that structures are cool in summer and warm in winter owing to the inherent insulation properties of the timber frame system.  Construction time is fast  (about a quarter of the time employed in other methods).  Difficult ground conditions and inaccessible building sites pose no problem, making wood the best choice, due to it’s inherent lightness and high strength to weight ratio.  Timber frame structures can provide as much as 10% more livable space and the ease and convenience of being able to extend the existing living space is a very big bonus, whether it’s vertical extension, a loft room or merely increasing the ground floor room, doing so in timber frame is clean, quick, convenient and cost effective.

Adherence to the South African National Building Regulations, encompassing a precise Code of Practice for timber buildings by the South African National Standards Organisation (SANS 10082) produces timber buildings of immense structural stability and consistent quality.  The common perception of wooden homes burning more easily than other forms of construction is dispelled if one considers that the fire resistance of the structure should be regarded as a property of the structure itself, rather than whether it is built of wood or any other building material.  In many cases, the structural timber is sheathed with fire resistant materials such as gypsum plastered board products, internally and fire resistant external cladding which protect the timber framework and more than adequately provide the fire ratings required by the authorities.

The Institute of Timber Frame Builders (ITFB) has for more than two decades strived to change the perception of timber frame construction in South Africa and has achieved this goal very successfully.  The ITFB’s membership is nationwide and builders in almost all provinces have reported significant demands for timber homes.  All members of the ITFB sign a code of ethics to which they are strictly bound. Contracting to build with an IFTB registered builder not only assures the client of a top quality home, but also guarantees peace of mind.  The Banking Council of South Africa recognises the ITFB’s role in the timber construction industry, and this has resulted in an excellent relationship between the lending institutions and ITFB builder members.  The financial institutions are assured that their mortgage lending is not at risk if their customer has contracted with an IFTB builder.

Local authorities have also come to know that if the structure is to be built by an IFTB member it will undoubtedly comply with the National Building Regulations and SANS Codes of Practice.  This recognition has naturally had a huge spin off for the industry as, more and more, the discerning consumer wants to own a timber frame home.

The superb performance of timber, a renewable resource, it’s aesthetic appeal, the speed of construction and the stability and durability of the end product, no longer makes timber frame simply a question of cost, but rather of better quality.

Source : ITFB - www.itfb.co.za 

 

Claire - 082 399 0180 / 073 924 4035

011 025 4458

bluedesigns5@gmail.com

 

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