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WorkingPoor

Timber frames the new cladding disaster

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Fears grow over safety of timber-framed blocks of flats after Grenfell fire

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/17/fears-use-timber-frames-blocks-flats-grenfell-tower-fire

The experts stress there is nothing intrinsically unsafe about such buildings, in which a wooden structure is generally left unseen and in a sealed void between external bricks and internal plasterboard walls.

But they warn that fire safety is dependant on a precise building process leaving no gaps into the timber frame, which does not always happen.

Another issue is that this fire safety principle of compartmentalisation – ensuring a blaze in one flat does not spread – can be undermined later by something as simple as a resident drilling holes in a wall to mount shelves or a TV.

Jim Glockling, technical director of the Fire Protection Association, said many people did not even know they were living in a timber-frame building.

“You could be in a fantastic block of flats and the ill-conceived actions of one occupant has the potential to really impact on the safety of other people living in the same block,” he said.

So.....as i alluded to on te Grenfell topic, the fire gaps are critical and must be put in correctly during installation, i'd wager that this in not done correctly on 90% of all construction sites. 

Huge can of worms being opened up.

Edited by WorkingPoor

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Fuck me. I didn't realise this magnitude of stupidity was going on. I wouldn't buy a timber framed bungalow let alone a 6th story flat.

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Timber framing is extremely popular for developers because whilst it doesn't cost less it massively speeds up the construction time.

I think it's bad news but houses like this have been built all over the place since the 1980s and a local builder I know has already had to replace some framing where it had rotted away at ground level.

I wouldn't buy a timber framed house; let alone a flat.  Not for the fire risk but for the huge maintenance bill that will be just a matter of time.

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3 minutes ago, Happy Renting said:

I was commenting to a friend the other day that Shakespeare's birthplace was a fire hazard.

Thankyou for that little dose of perspective for the (remarkably common) strange people that think 400 years isn't longevity enough, only something built out of the Stonehenge blue sarsens for them, obviously.

The best modern houses I've ever seen are ALL timber-framed - the Krauts make some brilliant prefabs.

That said, I wouldn't build a block of flats on a timber frame. Or more precisely, you probably can if you do it really, really well, but of course that's not what will happen.

 

 

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Just now, Frank Hovis said:

Timber framing is extremely popular for developers because whilst it doesn't cost less it massively speeds up the construction time.

I think it's bad news but houses like this have been built all over the place since the 1980s and a local builder I know has already had to replace some framing where it had rotted away at ground level.

I wouldn't buy a timber framed house; let alone a flat.  Not for the fire risk but for the huge maintenance bill that will be just a matter of time.

A jerry-built house is a jerry-built house, no matter what the materials are. It's quality that is at issue, not whether it's wood or concrete.

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3 minutes ago, swissy_fit said:

A jerry-built house is a jerry-built house, no matter what the materials are. It's quality that is at issue, not whether it's wood or concrete.

That's a different argument entirely.

Timber framed houses are not as good as block construction and have a much shorter life before major repairs are needed.  I would only be very confident about a timber framed house under twenty years, if it was coming up to forty I'd be very wary.

Traditional block built - no problems expected for sixty plus years except maybe the roof.

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Plasterboard walls are shite though aren't they? always a nightmare to fix anything too even with the correct fixings. 

I've seen staircase handrails hanging off with damaged plasterboard etc 

Not for me.

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From the OP:

Previous research by the Building Research Establishment, which is running the official tests on cladding after Grenfell, has detailed a series of incidents where single fires in timber-framed blocks spread over days.

One blaze caused by a discarded cigarette at flats in Hounslow, west London, destroyed 16 homes and led to complete collapse of the roof of the building. One block in Manchester had to be demolished six days after a fire broke out so fire crews could be certain it was fully extinguished. Neither fire led to loss of life.

Mark Andrews, assistant chief fire officer at Sussex fire service, said his organisation and others put timber-frame blocks in a risk register accessible to crews so they knew that flames could spread unseen, potentially making the structure unsafe. 

“Timber-frame buildings are a concern in terms of structural stability when there’s fire,” he said, adding that he would “welcome a review of the building regulations to look again at the types of buildings that have sprinklers put in as a matter of course”.

1 minute ago, MrPin said:

Termites will eat them.

Are you American? 

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7 minutes ago, Frank Hovis said:

That's a different argument entirely.

Timber framed houses are not as good as block construction and have a much shorter life before major repairs are needed.  I would only be very confident about a timber framed house under twenty years, if it was coming up to forty I'd be very wary.

Traditional block built - no problems expected for sixty plus years except maybe the roof.

Shit British mainstream construction timber frames, maybe. But there is absolutely no need for them to be shit. (except for the usual few hundred quid of savings at the expense of the future).

 

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19 minutes ago, swissy_fit said:

Thankyou for that little dose of perspective for the (remarkably common) strange people that think 400 years isn't longevity enough, only something built out of the Stonehenge blue sarsens for them, obviously.

The best modern houses I've ever seen are ALL timber-framed - the Krauts make some brilliant prefabs.

That said, I wouldn't build a block of flats on a timber frame. Or more precisely, you probably can if you do it really, really well, but of course that's not what will happen.

 

 

I attended a very lengthy presentation on this by a professional which consisted of various tests to show how timber framed and modular were in many respects almost on a par with traditional construction.

I waited politely and when it was time for questions I asked my basic question: What advantages does it have over traditional construction, given that it's no cheaper (modular is currently pricier) and in every respect is marginally worse?

The honest answer came back: None. It is not as robust or long lasting; but it is much quicker to build.

So more profit for the developer; crappier house for you.

Marvellous.

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4 minutes ago, swissy_fit said:

Shit British mainstream construction timber frames, maybe. But there is absolutely no need for them to be shit. (except for the usual few hundred quid of savings at the expense of the future).

 

I didn't say they'd collapse after two weeks but they are not as good as traditional construction.

Be they German, Norwegian, Passivhaus or what have you.

All they are is quicker to build. That is their only advantage.

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16 minutes ago, MrPin said:

Termites will eat them.

Climate change may make termites a problem in the UK.

So far there are only a couple of houses in the West Country that have picked up termites from an imported garden plant. But attempts to eradicate them have not been successful.

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11 minutes ago, Happy Renting said:

Climate change may make termites a problem in the UK.

So far there are only a couple of houses in the West Country that have picked up termites from an imported garden plant. But attempts to eradicate them have not been successful.

It's probably unwise to import garden plants. The Australians don't like it.

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45 minutes ago, swissy_fit said:

Thankyou for that little dose of perspective for the (remarkably common) strange people that think 400 years isn't longevity enough, only something built out of the Stonehenge blue sarsens for them, obviously.

The best modern houses I've ever seen are ALL timber-framed - the Krauts make some brilliant prefabs.

That said, I wouldn't build a block of flats on a timber frame. Or more precisely, you probably can if you do it really, really well, but of course that's not what will happen.

 

 

I think there is a world of difference between the cruck frame houses built in the UK in past centuries using massive beams of native hard woods and the sort of stuff Barratts chuck up. In addition it is worth remembering only the well built houses of the past have managed to last out four centuries. The poorly constructed ones have long since gone so what we see is survivor bias. 

With regard to fires in timber frame buildings most of the spectacular ones seen in the news relate to sites under construction and a lot of the concern of the fire brigade concern the risks these blazes pose to building workers and firemen.

 

6 minutes ago, MrPin said:

It's probably unwise to import garden plants. The Australians don't like it.

Every imported garden plant should be accompanied by its own aardvark.

Edited by Flirtygirty

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There's a lot to be said to have a building design life of about 40-50 years.

Part of the problem in the UK is that the building structure is considered to be permanent, with knockdown-rebuild only really done with small houses on big plots.  We've got tired old brick buildings, with each house designed for the household of the 1950s (or whatever), and not-quite-right for today's households.

The UK's housing stock would be improved it houses were expected to last about 50 years, with the expectation of the process being involved in the design (eg, reuse of a slab foundation, say).  That way we wouldn't be mucking about so much with applique insulation or putting in more sockets or internal remodelling -- we'd just wait until it was the right time and then sort it all out on rebuild with the latest insulation, etc.

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There is also metal frame construction that has the same advantage as timber in speed of build. But I disagree that timber frame is an inferior method of construction.                                                                   

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3 minutes ago, sleepwello'nights said:

There is also metal frame construction that has the same advantage as timber in speed of build. But I disagree that timber frame is an inferior method of construction.                                                                   

Ah metal frame.

Dorman Long Company (Dorlonco), British Iron and Steel Frame (BISF), and Orlit (don't know).

Shite. All shite. Unmortgageable, rusting and falling down.

I do know this stuff for professional reasons, as do banks. The basic division of houses is into Traditional (they love it, charge as many as you want) and Non-Trad (they really don't want).

I would do anything to prevent friend or family from buying a timber frame; it's on a par with buying a leasehold or listed house. Just don't.

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2 minutes ago, Frank Hovis said:

Ah metal frame.

Dorman Long Company (Dorlonco), British Iron and Steel Frame (BISF), and Orlit (don't know).

Shite. All shite. Unmortgageable, rusting and falling down.

I do know this stuff for professional reasons, as do banks. The basic division of houses is into Traditional (they love it, charge as many as you want) and Non-Trad (they really don't want).

I would do anything to prevent friend or family from buying a timber frame; it's on a par with buying a leasehold or listed house. Just don't.

I'm interested, can you tell me more?

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