Growing Demand for Timber in UK Construction

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The government’s declaration of support for offsite construction methods to help meet house building targets is a “massive opportunity” for the timber frame sector, according to the Structural Timber Association.

In October 2016, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid announced the launch of a £3 billion ‘home building fund’, a loans programme for small to medium sized housebuilders intended to push UK annual home construction towards the levels needed, estimated at 320,000 by the Home Builders Federation.  Now Housing Secretary Gavin Barwell has made it clear that the government sees offsite construction as a key route to increasing building capacity and a potential beneficiary of the new funding.  The UK timber frame sector accounts for 80% to 90% of offsite construction and hence has a “massive opportunity” to increase housing supply.  Timber frame construction accounted for 27.6% of new UK housing in 2015, equating to circa 48,000 units.  There is considerable scope for increased market share if offsite construction methods are to play a larger role.

With the need to provide more housing for the UK, and construction required at greater speed, future prospects for the use of softwood timber are growing stronger as combinations of solid wood and engineered wood products become favoured choices for architects, engineers and designers.

Currency volatility post Brexit has opened the door for homegrown timber producers to increase sales as price differentials to imported timber have widened.

Forecast housing start increases, coupled with the promotion of construction methods favouring wood, will see greater demand for wood in UK construction, resulting in increased timber prices.