Why has multi-story timber construction not taken off?

Finland’s forest cover is 72%. The forest area of Finland is 219 350 square kilometres. This is twice the size of Germany at 107 400 square kilometres. It would seem that mass timber construction would flourish in Finland.

The challenges

The chicken and egg problem is a critical issue. This leads to higher costs than concrete construction, since it is difficult to achieve cost-efficiency with small batches. Budgeting is difficult for many projects because they are still in the pilot stage. If the client wants to build with wood, they must budget for a premium.

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Inherited practices are also a problem. It is safer and easier to follow well-known workflows in the supply chain than learning new ones.

Wood isn’t wanted. The idea that wood was only meant for single-family houses is the root of resistance to change. Nine out of 10 Finnish single-family homes are made from wood. This year in Finland, only 13 multi-story timber buildings were constructed. When you require Timber Frame Construction, visit Merlin Timber Frame.

Regulation impedes enthusiasm

Mass timber is one way to reduce carbon emissions in construction. Indeed, timber has the same technical and functional quality as concrete but has a much smaller carbon footprint.

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The EU wants to encourage timber construction but the Finnish regulations do not yet reflect this. One project manager said that you would build with beautiful wood, then cover it all up with fire protection, and sprinklers on top.

A skills gap

The final question is about skills and experience. Industry experts in Finland believe that the lack of design and know-how hinders the advancement of wood construction.

The design of high-rise structures in mass wood is relatively new. And the need to industrialise production adds an additional level of difficulty.

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