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Mon Sep 14 2020 01:00:00 GMT+0100 (BST)

Governments and local authorities are increasingly seeking sustainability – in all types of policies but especially construction. This means more timber frame homes and also carefully considering where and how the timber is sourced.

Here at SO Modular, we are proud of the fact that the timber we use is sourced locally. The majority comes from our own doorstep in the Neath Valley, milled by Pontrilas Sawmills, just over an hour away in Hereford. Founded in 1947, Pontrilas is one of the largest independent sawmills in the UK as well as one of the most advanced and technically automated in the country.

We use enough wood every year to build more than 1,000 timber frame homes. This amount is set to increase exponentially as our business grows rapidly and demand for timber frame solutions soars.

Since our investment in the Metalbox Factory in Neath, we have capacity to make more than 3,500 homes a year. As such, we are seeking new sources of timber in Wales.

Timber frame homes offer many advantages including more environmentally friendly and energy-efficient credentials. Their carbon footprint is considerably smaller than other construction methods as they require less materials and labour, which results in less machinery.

They are far faster to build than a traditional brick and mortar house. All of the timber frames can be constructed off-site quickly (undisturbed by bad weather) and transported to sites, where they can be erected promptly and efficiently.

More and more tenders are now starting to emerge in which it is specified that the wood for timber frame homes is sourced locally. To which we fully endorse.

These local initiatives intersect with the wider aims and objectives of the Welsh Government. In its Future Generations Act, Wales has set out a vision to increase environmental, social, cultural and economic wellbeing in the country. On 29 April 2019 Welsh Government declared a climate emergency and subsequently published a 10 Point Plan to Fund Wales’ Climate Emergency.

Consequently, it pushes for a change in the countrys policy that will increase forestation (approx. 4000ha per year until 2050) to sequester carbon and increase timber for use in construction. The aim is to create high-performance and affordable new timber homes while supporting local manufacturers and suppliers.

Responding to this, Woodknowledge Wales along with the Welsh woodland organisation, Coed Cymru, Cardiff Metropolitan University and BM TRADA, established the Home-Grown Homes project. The project’s purpose is “to create high-performance and affordable new homes from wood in a manner that maximises the opportunity for local manufacturers and home-grown timber.”

As part of the Home-Grown Homes partnership, one local authority, Powys County Council, has adopted a Wood Encouragement Policy. The mission is to “build better, more energy efficient houses, support the local forestry industry and to create jobs. The policy sets out that all new council housing projects will look to use wood as the preferred material for both construction and fit-out purposes.”.

Charlotte Hale, our Operations Director, said: “The policy is the first of its kind in the UK but it is likely others will follow. Here at SO Modular, we remain committed to leading the way in developing a sustainable and environmentally friendly supply chain that aligns with these policies and objectives. We are exploring all avenues of ensuring that we continue to source wood locally and work with all relevant parties to make this a reality. SOM are very proud to say that they currently nearing completion on the first of its kind, all Welsh Timber Frame project in Brecon for Powys County Council.

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