I am delighted to participate in the 30th year landmark edition of TimberTrader News, and have the opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of this publication to the development of Frame Australia from its inception in 1998.
That same year, Greg King and I were at the Building Components Manufacturers Conference (BCMC) in the USA. We discussed the potential that lay within doing a similar conference and exhibition in Australia, and it went from there. The event would be primarily for truss and frame prefabrication, with TimberTrader News as the exclusive event publication.
The partnership worked very harmoniously with Greg looking after the sponsors, Paula King (RIP) handling the office work, and me, producing the speakers program. We formed a great team and had a lot of fun – as well as working on a satisfying business venture.
The role of TimberTrader News was vital to the early success of Frame Australia, as it reached the vast majority of potential sponsors and delegates within the Australian prefabricated timber frame and truss industry. As a monthly publication, there was plenty of opportunities for news stories all year-round leading up to each event.
Over the years, Frame Australia’s emphasis on timber and prefabrication in the conference topics program developed to include the complete supply chain of timber and engineered wood, truss and frame prefabrication, and more recently, the building design and construction sectors.
It was in 2010 that Greg decided to move on, in order to concentrate on TimberTrader News. I expanded the Frame topics to cover all areas of building construction, in order to achieve a greater integration of the complete supply chain. This included topics about prefabricated timber and wood to the construction industry.
Recent changes in population densities, and the rapid trend to build medium-rise housing, have opened the door to new opportunities that allow for the greater use of prefabricated timber and wood products, in both residential and commercial building practices.
Future projections are indicating a decline in single dwellings, with corresponding growth in multi-residential construction. These changes will accommodate the increasing population in high-density developments within the inner-urban zones of major cities.
The use of timber and wood products in traditional residential markets including new homes, alterations and additions, will remain for some time – but projections predict a decline in demand over the coming years.
Future growth markets will exist in timber and wood systems for building multi-residential and commercial developments. This is because they offer faster construction and low costs using lightweight timber framing up to five stories, and 10 stories or more in mass timber products such as cross laminated timber (CLT).
These market developments stand to be enhanced by current proposals to the National Construction Code that will expand the current limits for timber building heights if passed, allowing designers and builders to design projects using timber and wood by up to eight stories.
Looking ahead, the significant potential for timber and engineered wood in multi-residential and commercial construction will also require a greater adoption of commercial building practices – particularly during the early market growth phase.
Also, an important factor towards success will be collaboration within the timber supply chain, especially during the transition from supplying a range of individual building products to providing a complete building system – which will be in competition with the concrete and steel industries.
It’s important to remember that when designers are choosing primary building materials, they are comparing building systems in steel and concrete to timber and wood systems – and we need to be unified in assisting them with making the right choice.