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An Examination into the Threat of Fire to Timber Frame Construction in the UK (2013)

Since the dawn of early man timber has been used as a construction material. As the human race developed so did their buildings. As its name suggests, timber frame construction is a method of building that relies on a timber frame as a basic way of structural support. Many scholars remind us “timber for constructional purposes varies widely throughout the world”. He also claims that “countries have tended to develop their own methods of construction depending largely on the availability of local raw materials and to a lesser extent on climate”. This can be seen to be true of countries which have large areas of forestry such as North America, Canada and the Scandinavian countries. Approximately 95% of all homes built in the US and Scandinavia are of timber frame construction. The market share for new homes in the UK is just over 20% and that figure is expected to rise to over 30% in the next few years. Timber frame is now a mainstream method of house building in England as it has been in Scotland for quite some time, where over 70% of homes are built using timber frame. Timber frame building is a simple concept and is well within the scope of anyone who has a working knowledge of general building practices. It uses plywood nailed to a timber framework to form a robust structural shell. They can be finished with a wide variety of external claddings such as brick, stone; cement based rendering systems, tile hanging, wood or plastic either singly or in a combination. The frame is completed first and then the cladding is applied. Plasterboard is used to internally line the building as soon as the building is watertight, and this can then be finished with many different materials. This dissertation aims to provide a background into the development of the timber frame construction industry and investigate the threat of fire during the construction stage, and also to prove that timber can still be considered as a major construction component. The objectives of this dissertation are:

  • To provide a background into the history, evolution, advancements and modern methods of timber-frame construction
  • To provide an insight into the fire issues that has to be dealt with during the construction of timber-frame multi-story buildings
  • To examine the new procedures that are being considered as a solution to the recent concerns with the fire safety of timber-frame buildings
  • To find what Members of the construction industries views are towards the fire safety of timber-frame buildings
  • To determine whether timber-frame buildings can still play apart in the future of construction
  • 12,000 words – 58 pages in length
  • Excellent use of literature
  • Good analysis of subject area
  • Well written throughout
  • Includes questionnaire transcripts
  • Ideal for construction management students

1 – Introduction
Hypothesis
Aims and Objectives
Methodology

2 – Background of Timber Frame Construction
Background
Modern Timber-Frame House Construction
Platform Frame Method
Floor-To-Floor Panel Frame
Post and Beam
Development of Multi-Story Timber-Frame Construction
MMC (Modern Methods of Construction)
Volumetric Construction
Panellised Systems
Hybrid Construction
Technical Considerations
Thermal Performance
Sound
Durability
Fire
Sustainability

3 – Literature Review
Timber versus Traditional Construction
Cost
The Threat of Fire
IFC Certification
The Pre-Construction (Design) Phase Issues
External Risk of Arson
Socio-Economic Review
Site Security
Internal Arson Risk Assessment
Building Design and Construction Risk Factors
Inspection of the Site
Development of New Materials

4 – Research Methods
The Literature Review
Research Strategies
Qualitative Research
Methods of Data Collection
Case Study
Email Surveys

5 – Case Study
Method of Construction
Fire Development
Cause of the Fire
Issues for Consideration
After Thoughts of the Fire
Other Timber Frame Construction Fires

6 – Data Analysis
Participants of the Survey
Survey Questions

7 – Conclusions and Recommendations
Recommendations for Further Research

8 – Limitations

References

Appendices

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