15 June 2020
Sponsored by Heathrow Limited
Roe Timberframe is a sub-contractor that provides timber skeletons for buildings. Their finalist entry aims to highlight their commitment to the local community and their particular sector of ‘off-site’ manufacture.
From the core raw material to their business model, they have been pushing the boundaries in a very intransient building methodology for over 20 years. With continuing momentum (£20m+ annual turnover), their work is gaining recognition with a positive outlook. Due to their continued reinvestment strategy, they are well placed to meet the ‘off-site’ volumetric demands of the government in their vision to create efficient and cost-effective housing solutions using modern methods of construction (MMC) utilising sustainable carbon-reducing materials.
MMC is a spectrum of various building methods ranging for Cat 7 (full on-site traditional building model) to Cat 1 (full off-site modular building) delivered to site as a ‘plug & play’ concept. Roe established that timber frame is the most sustainable building material. They have strived to create the optimum design for ‘real world’ volumetric construction. As a result, they have settled on MMC Cat 2 to deliver this solution. Their individual design involves CAD designed ‘open’ structural insulated panels, augmented with metal web joists and trusses. These are all manufactured off-site and then transported to site where it is efficiently erected in situ. So they have a timber frame produced with minimal waste (plus an electro incinerator that burns waste wood to create electricity) that can be constructed quickly and allow multiple disciplines to complete the remaining work simultaneously to significantly reduced build time.
Wood is a material with far greater insulating properties than steel or block and when combined with modern insulation materials result in very thermally efficient structures. They can achieve significant thermal improvements over ‘brick and block’ when measuring like for like on a building footprint. They can reduce the gap between the external wall and the internal wall to achieve the same thermal values, thus improving the internal living space for the same footprint. This is in addition to the benefits of offsite construction where you can accurately measure the client requirements and produce a specific panel off-site in a controlled environment, with minimal waste, which can then be delivered to site and erected in situ.
Timber frame in off-site manufacturing is a solution for housing and commercial projects, best suited to low rise solutions, which under normal circumstances work up to five stories. They have provided solutions for a number of commercial projects, most commonly schools and hotels. They also work with hybrid projects - where the timber frame infills to a steel frame. This format tends to happen with large spanning issues, as optimum spanning is approximately 5m. The combination of a steel frame and timber infill solves both spanning and thermal efficiency. It also highlights that solutions exist across building methodologies.
For all their projects Roe Timber utilise a digital approach. Using CAD technology ensures the most efficient line and point loadings which are critical to meet engineering requirements. It also assists architects by giving them a clearer understanding of the core principals of timber frame design. This is especially important when developers and contractors embark on large housing projects as once designed for the client, they then have a re-usable model which they can then accurately price time and time again to improve build repeatability and standardisation. The most successful users of timber frame structure can achieve up to a 50% increase to occupancy over traditional building methods.
Having created a company in a deprived area of the UK sitting on an 80,000 sq. ft. facility, Roe Timber focus on trying to provide all elements of business in-house, which includes design, manufacture, fabrication & transportation. They employ 160 local people, of which a significant number are EU nationals. In 2019, they increased their headcount by over 30% to meet the production demand and continue to invest as necessary to meet the proposed new thinking.
About the Offsite Award:
The SECBE Awards team look for a number of qualities in our Offsite finalist entries including: a systematic approach to the implementation of offsite solutions, the potential of new and innovative approaches, tangible benefits, addressing commercial demands and local community needs whilst also unique and innovative - particularly compared to traditional construction methods.