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Uncovering the residential construction industry’s views on timber

New research into perceptions of timber within residential construction is set to provide the forestry and wood products industry with intelligence to strengthen relationships with the design and build sector.

Huge quantities of sawn timber are used by the residential construction market, but there tends to be a lack of real understanding amongst growers and processors around builders’ views and needs. The research aimed to discover builder opinions about wood, to help realise the full potential of its use for structural and aesthetic applications.

In Australia, the largest 100 builders are responsible for the construction of more than 40 per cent of all detached homes and have the power to influence change and innovation across the residential market.

For these reasons, FWPA has established a National Residential Construction and Fit-out Program, which targets these builders to discover their views on timber and the opportunities and barriers around its use.

Dr Alastair Woodard, National Residential Construction and Fit-out Manager at FWPA said the bulk of the participating builders were very much on board with the benefits of timber in construction and fit-out.

Many important insights were gained and the team behind the research is now analysing the information and feedback collected to present it in a way that will best suit the industry.

A major learning from the volume build sector was the importance of price stability in the supply chain,” Woodard said.

“The volume building market is currently under pressure and is highly price sensitive. Volume builders value price stability above all else, meaning the wood products sector needs to be conscious of pricing and plan carefully for significant price variations that could drive potential customers towards more price-stable and sometimes cheaper alternatives.”

This is particularly the case with steel framing. While structural timber framing options remain cheaper, builders are happy to stick with timber. But if the price dynamic changes or the builder feels they are getting a better ‘systems package’, steel framing becomes the more attractive alternative.

“One particular learning was that uptake of steel framing is very regional. The steel industry has developed a strong foothold in the Queensland market, for example, where it is incredibly proactive in communicating its ‘system benefits’ and providing incentives for its use,” Woodard said.

Once the analysis has been completed, details will be shared with FWPA stakeholders who can use the insights to help focus their residential market activities. Findings will then be discussed with other timber products and systems groups to identify the need for any associated education or R&D projects.

Posted Date: July 23, 2020

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