Timber demand fuels growth at Sunderland firm

Timber demand fuels growth at Sunderland firm

A Sunderland timber products firm is on track for a 30% rise in turnover this year as it helps major UK developers tackle the housing shortage.

Fencehouse Truss Company supplies roof trusses, timber frames and other timber construction products across the country from its Houghton-le-Spring base.

As it nears its 10th anniversary, it is this year expecting to grow annual turnover by almost a third, fuelled in part by its fast-growing timber frame housing line.

A year ago, the company invested in a specialist piece of equipment – known as a butterfly table - to enable the production of entire timber frame homes on-site; and has since seen a surge in demand for these products.

Timber frame housing is becoming increasingly popular in the UK. Timber frame homes are usually made in controlled conditions indoors, meaning no delays due to high winds or rain and a turnaround time of a matter of days.

This rapid production – and the fact that it does not require tradespeople currently in short supply such as bricklayers – makes it an attractive proposition to developers working to plug the national housing gap.

Fencehouse is supplying timber products to a number of major developers, including Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon Homes and Esh Group.

Timber frame homes are less labour intensive to produce than traditionally-built brick properties and can be positioned by semi-skilled tradespeople or experienced self-builders.

They are also more sustainable and heat and energy efficient – and generate less construction material waste. They also offer various cost advantages, including savings on skips and scaffolding.

Steven Harris, co-director of Fencehouse Truss Company, said: “Timber frame houses are a really high growth area for us at the moment.

“Off-site construction is increasingly in demand - as it’s faster and also because there are huge labour shortages on-site – and national housebuilders are starting to switch on to its benefits. Timber frame homes are more efficient, cleaner to build and more sustainable. England is a bit behind the curve on this compared to Scandinavia and also Scotland, where almost three quarters of new builds are timber frame homes.

“In England we still seem hell bent on building houses as we did in the past, but this is changing and we hope to be at the forefront as it continues to do so.”