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The structure of a building does not have to be made from bricks, concrete blocks, steel or glass. Timber buildings offer a sustainable method and provide strong structures at a fraction of the cost. They also provide time savings as often the wooden structure can be manufactured off-site in a factory, from original Computer Aided Design (CAD) drawings provided by the Architect. These are engineered to work with the strengths of the timber.
Once assembled in the factory, the building parts - individual struts and subsections of the building - are then driven to the building site by truck.
Once there, they are erected on the foundations which are prepared in advance to save storage on site.
The trucks appear at regular intervals with the various parts of the building, from the ground floor to the trusses for the roof. This is all carefully project managed.
The structure is made weather proof with a membrane insulator such as Tyvek. Work can begin inside the structure immediately. Typically a three storey building structure can go up in 2-3 weeks.
An alternative to this off-site manufacture approach is to create engineering drawings and then go on site with a large quantity of wood, which is then cut up and assembled onsite. This is called stick building for obvious reasons, and has the advantage of saving money and enabling slight adjustments to be made if any minor problems come up.
There are also buildings that arrive completely finished, sometimes even with paint, electrical wiring etc, doors, windows. The complete package just needs minor assembling on site by the accompanying technicians. Famous makes here include Cabin Kit Homes. They are more popular abroad (US, Germany) where there is more space and so fewer planning constraints. These often use a lot of steel and plastic so are not usually very green. In the US, in is not unusual for whole buildings can be moved on trucks to new location - 'moving house'!
These are complete buildings that require minimal assembly on site. Typically they are used as semi-permanent structures such as the one shown here. They can also be used to provide extra rooms on top of existing buildings, as 'loft pods'. This is very green as no extra space is required.
Solid timber buildings
Finnforest, who supply the Thermowood cladding that we use, also make a solid timber panel for buildings called LENO. This has a Kerto interlayer for better mechanical properties such as stiffness. The combined system is called LenoTec.
Solid timber rather than stick timber build has advantages of strength and speed of panelised construction. Also cross laminated timber panels do not shrink or warp, which does happen to a small extent in a natural product like a timber building. The interlayer makes it open to diffusion but airtight.
For more details see Finnforest at www.finnforest.com
Eurban is the UK Distributor for the LENO range.
Structural beams can be made from Parallam PSL (parallel strand lumber) where the composite wood is cured using a phenolic resin adhesive. A patented microwave process cures the wood adhesive in beams as thick as 11.5 inches.
Stick build timber construction is created onsite from engineer's drawings. Many companies offer this timber build service.
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