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Performance of TF Building
Durability Performance of Structures
There are many examples of different types of construction, using all types of materials that can suffer from poor performance and durability issues. Concrete spalling, steel corrosion, timber rotting, damp penetration through blockwork, masonry cracking, overly-flexible steel frames, sulfate attack on mortar, inadequate acoustic performance of party wall constructions and inadequate fire protection, the list is endless.
In the majority of cases, however, the cause of this poor performance is poor quality construction. Often reports of poor performance relate to a one off problem, errors in the build quality, and perhaps design philosophy which would have led to defects regardless of the material used.
Timber frame has a demonstrable history of successful durability and longevity. There are volumes of projects that adopts timber frame which have provided, and continue to provide, good performance. There are many examples of timber frame buildings that are more than a thousand years old. Correctly built timber frame structures are capable of delivering the same design life as other methods of build. There’s no reason why a properly built and maintained timber frame structure can’t last several lifetimes.
The ease of incorporating insulation into the timber frame structure means that the requirements of the building regulations can easily be met and much higher levels can be achieved.
Timber frame has advantages over masonry construction because it allows a greater thickness of insulation to be used easily in the external walls.
To achieve equivalent U-values in masonry may require an increase in cavity size or the fitting specialist insulation, both of which can be costly.
Timber frame allows lower U-values (the lower the U-value the higher the standard of performance) to be achieved within standard constructions.
One way to passively improve the thermal comfort of a building is to increase it's thermal mass. There is no significant difference in thermal mass between masonry and a lightweight timber frame construction. However, timber frame can be adapted to increase specific areas of thermal mass in a building.
Fire Safety Performance
Fire is an emotive subject and is one of the first issues raised when timber frame construction is discussed. However, timber frame buildings must meet the same fire regulations as all other types of construction and therefore pose no greater risk to their inhabitants.
Timber stud partitions and timber joist floors have been used for many years as fire separating elements and their performance has been proven time and time again in test and real fire situations.
A well-built timber frame building is as safe from fire risk as any well-built with masonry. The fire safety of a building is far more complicated than whether the materials are combustible or not - the characteristics of the entire system must be taken into account. A completed project, built using tried and tested materials, in accordance with relevant building regulations, presents no more significant risk than any other.