TTJONLINE.COM — A new white paper on mass timber construction with input from 24 major UK insurers is recommending that hybrid structures combining traditional and modern method of construction may represent the best route forward to satisfying multiple considerations including insurance risks and carbon reduction.
‘Insurance Challenges of Massive and Mass Timber Construction’ has been published by RISCAuthority, an annually funded research scheme supported by a significant group of UK insurers.
David Williams, chairman of RISCAuthority, said it should not be a surprise that insurance models and customer expectations may need to change “quite radically” to address substantial changes in construction methods and material use.
RISCAuthority’s Massive Timber Working group analyzed insurance challenges of newer proposed building methods with a view to assisting future dialogue in creating buildings that meet all needs of safety, carbon reduction, and resilience to the insured perils of fire, escape of water, and flood.
The report says the solution in most cases comes from the hybridization of conventional and newer building methods and materials.
Typical solutions listed include:
- location of all plant and electrical intakes in a concrete core
- locating all bathrooms and kitchens within a concrete core of a massive timber building
- Alternating CLT (cross-laminated timber) floors in concrete or steel framed buildings
- Building the first floor of mass timber buildings in concrete
- Use of a CLT panel waterproofing membrane
The report also says that if the UK Government is looking to promote massive timber methods in the UK, then the specific development of the UK’s Approved Documents in the same way as the US International Building Code (IBC) “would be one of the most beneficial things that could be done”.
The IBC specifies that for significant buildings all timber is encapsulated and combustible voids are either lined, sprinkler protected, or filled.
It also outlines that it is the desire of the RISCAuthority membership that the white paper be used as a foundation for collaboration and encourage healthy dialogue between property insurers and all stakeholders involved in timber construction projects.
“In the longer term, there is a substantial role for government to play in developing Building Regulations that better appreciate the challenges if more complex construction types are to be embraced,” it says.
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