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  • Writer's pictureTim den Dekker

What are the barriers to greater use of timber in construction?

Updated: May 15

Time for Timber asks if the construction and insurance sector could be the block to the UK achieving its 2050 net zero targets.


Tim den Dekker, as an architect and actuary, and director of Lignum Risk Partners has a professional interest in finding solutions to ‘unblock’ the situation. He spoke to Time for Timber about what he sees as the barriers to greater use of timber in construction.


“One of my concerns is that there appears not to be a level playing field between timber, steel and concrete, where the insurance industry has given the green light to steel and concrete, but not to timber.”


In the film, Tim talks more about how the insurance landscape and the UK regulatory situation has come together to present obstacles to building with timber, that has come out of a misrepresentation of the risks.



He says, “Industry coming together requires everyone to appreciate there is a common goal and understand what the impediments to them achieving insurance at commercially attractive terms are. I think there is a lack of appreciation of where the risk lies. There appears to be tremendous emphasis on fire and fire risk. Fire risk catches the headlines, but the rest that don’t catch the headlines, such as moisture ingress and damage from moisture. We don’t see that, but I understand that tallies up and causes the majority of losses of insurance companies, so we need to understand the risks across the spectrum.”


Reducing your carbon can be done in a number of ways, constructing lightly, reducing the amount of materials in your buildings, but also choosing the right materials. An increased use of timber in construction is a key route to reducing the emissions created by the construction industry and one that many people are looking at now.


“We are seeing the timber associations, the various timber trade bodies, putting more attention into the weak points and identifying where the blockers are. We are seeing the fire engineering profession converging and understanding that a clear and consistent message needs to be made and we are seeing the need for government to cooperate more, to provide a regulatory environment that encourages sustainable building products; and of course, we have alternative risk transfer mechanisms, alternative means for accessing capital to protect companies financially through alternative risk transfer solutions.”


“So, I’m quite confident that a solution exists.”


Talk to us about business and risk management consultancy services for timber construction.

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