CLT in residential construction

Unlocking the Secrets of CLT in Residential Construction

Foreword by Ian Thompson, Editor

Today, we delve into the fascinating world of residential mass timber construction, specifically focusing on the application of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT). Derived from the experiences and case studies of X-Lam, a prominent mass timber solutions provider, this discussion provides a comprehensive understanding of the benefits, challenges, and key considerations of utilizing CLT in residential projects.

We’ll start by exploring the unique properties of mass timber products and their practical implications in residential construction. In particular, we’ll discuss how CLT’s superior structural performance, thermal acoustics, fire resistance, and air tightness make it an excellent consideration for high-end residential projects.

However, the transition to mass timber construction isn’t without its challenges. We discuss the need for a paradigm shift from the traditional “make it fit on site” philosophy to embrace off-site manufacturing and the crucial role of early and thorough project coordination. This includes the importance of having fully coordinated, 100% complete designs before commencing shop drawings and the significant role played by the builder in holding together the coordination and shop drawing phase.

We also explore the cost implications of CLT, illustrating that while material and design costs are higher, the opportunity to close the cost gap lies in effective project management and efficient construction phases.

Finally, we’ll dive into real-life applications of CLT in residential construction through a couple of case studies – the Seed House and the Series House. These examples showcase the potential of CLT, its adaptability in complex geometric designs, and the aesthetic appeal of using exposed timbers in interior design.

Whether you’re an architect, engineer, builder, or industry enthusiast, this in-depth exploration of CLT in residential construction offers valuable insights and practical knowledge to enhance your understanding and application of this innovative building material.

Unlocking the Secrets of CLT in Residential Construction

Video Transcript

Today, I’ll be discussing residential mass timber construction, starting with an introduction to the products that fall under the mass timber category. Some of the considerations before opting for mass timber for a residential project will be discussed, and then I’ll introduce the Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) manufacturing process.

CLT in residential construction has numerous advantages which will be explained in detail, alongside a comparison to its application in commercial construction. The discussion will be concluded with some case studies of recent projects and a Q&A session.

X-Lam, a business which started in New Zealand in 2012, will be introduced. X-Lam expanded into a larger factory, delivering numerous iconic early mass timber projects. In 2015, the Mayflower Group purchased X-Lam with the intention of investing a large sum of money in a new automated plant in Australia.

The plant was situated in the All Ríoghachta Region, chosen due to its close proximity to the plantation forest and nearby sawmill Tumbarumba in southern New South Wales. The location’s easy access to the eastern seaboard of Australia was also a deciding factor, given the strong mass timber market there.

In 2016 and ’17, the team was set up in Australia, continuing to deliver projects from the New Zealand plant until the Australian plant opened in March 2018. The first two years saw over 80 projects delivered, with a larger portion being residential.

X-Lam is not just a CLT supplier. We offer mass timber solutions to the market and can tailor a package to the needs of a project across multiple disciplines. We also offer a range of value-add systems to the CLT, for example, coordinating procured glulam, steelwork, brackets, fixings, vapor membranes, as well as just the timber elements.

Mass timber refers to a range of engineered timber products that sit below the mass timber umbrella. Cross laminated timber and glue laminated timber are by far the most widely used, followed by LVL. CLT and glue-lam are the most popular in residential and commercial mass timber construction.

When it comes to using CLT in residential construction, the design process is somewhat different from traditional methods of construction. Mass timber has some particularly good credentials in structural performance, as well as thermal acoustics, fire resistance, air tightness, and so forth.

Choosing mass timber for a product should be done at the very early stages of the process. Commercial benefits of using mass timber include speed of installation, speed of construction, lightweightness, high accuracy, and cost-effectiveness. However, these comparisons are generally to institute concrete structures.

In residential construction, we are rarely replacing concrete walls and suspended concrete floors, hence the benefits are not always the same. With comparisons to timber frame, the product is heavier and requires a crane for installation. It’s also more expensive on an outright cost basis.

This is a product for the higher-end residential market, trying to compete on cost with volume builders is not feasible. Mass timber is a superior residential building product and this quality should be appreciated when considering budget constraints.

So, for example, is the client looking for a custom-designed forever home, targeting certain passive design principles? If yes, then mass timber is an excellent consideration. If a client likes the look of high-grade exposed timber but has a restricted budget, then timber frame clad internally with a hardwood would be a far more cost-effective solution.

The point here is that mass timber should be used for its strengths. If you’re thinking of designing a home with mass timber in mind, then questions like what air tightness do I want to achieve? Can I insulate enough to avoid putting ducted heating and cooling in? Am I using the most effective orientation of the block? Do I have the right budget? These are the right questions.

Always consider the specific drivers of a project before going too far down a mass timber journey that is not obtainable. And cost is always the biggest hurdle at the end of the day. If the key drivers are just not there, you’ll be paying a high price for a home that might not really outperform a traditionally built home.

The supply and install cost of mass timber is not just the only consideration. So consider within your budget, how much further performance do you want to get above and beyond what just the product alone is giving you? It’s also important to choose the right consultants, builder, and installers, ones that understand the process behind off-site procurement.

In conclusion, Mass timber is not a magical product that will solve all your problems. It has its places, but also some obvious areas where it might not be the best fit. Now, let’s talk more specifically about Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) in residential construction.

CLT is a panel type product used in residential construction more than any other mass timber product. Floors, walls, roof panels, etc., are made from CLT rather than post and beam type construction with LVL and glulam. All CLT suppliers prefer to manufacture large, low complexity panels which are most cost-effective. However, the cost will increase for more complex and uniquely shaped panels.

Connection design is another important driver behind complexity. Focus on connections that don’t require heavy machining and hidden slots and rebates for plates, etc., unless absolutely necessary. Some examples: a cast-in connection in concrete that required some heavy machining to the CLT and no tolerance for concrete in that option, whereas the right-hand option is a very simple solution for residential connections to a concrete slab on ground.

Here’s an example of the same size as a billet. When we say billet, this refers to our major panel that we press. It’s like the raw panel that comes out of the press before it goes into the CNC. One example with a single floor panel and the other with several high complexity panels: 23 minutes for the top option versus 140 minutes to make the bottom one. This illustrates how costs for CLT can increase considerably depending on the design.

I think it’s important to know how CLT is made, as this will hopefully provide some background to any of the limitations of the product. We start with random length packs of rough sawn timber boards of various sizes and shapes, but we could feed in any length of board. We then finger join that together to essentially make an infinitely long board, which we can cut back down to the size of the billet that we’re pressing.

Those boards are then planed to an accurate dimension on all four sides. They’re laid up and glued and pressed in a mechanical press to make the billets, and then we put them through the CNC machine to cut into the finished panels.

Once you’ve decided to use mass timber on your project, you’ll need to get an architect and an engineer on board to complete the design. Once this is completed, you’ll engage a supplier. Shop drawings will then be the first stage of that supply process, and without a doubt, it is the most important stage.

Without a shift in old thinking, you cannot expect to see the complete benefits of mass timber off-site construction. 

So for us to start shop drawings, the design should be at 100% completion, so fully coordinated. We need to have finalized information before we start shop drawings, as we are essentially producing an as-built model and set of drawings for production. People tend to underestimate how long that process takes to coordinate when you’re dealing with prefabricated technologies.

Now, let’s focus on the specifics of residential projects. Commercial builders are generally more experienced in larger-scale coordination and project management. These projects most often have reputable architects and engineers who are more experienced and confident in off-site coordination, in the 3D modelling process, in shop drawing reviews. Domestic construction is still largely that sort of “make it fit on site” philosophy.

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So builders tend to simply follow a set of drawings, whether that be from a building designer or an architect, and use their experience and know-how and the residential framing code to build the project traditionally using labor and mostly raw materials on site. This mindset is then somewhat challenging when trying to then introduce new and sophisticated off-site products, like mass timber.

All prefabricated building technologies require a coordination shop drawing phase. But the builder is really the glue that holds all that together. Unfortunately, this tends to happen a lot more on domestic projects. Some builders don’t necessarily have the ability to adapt to an off-site procurement model and try to make it work within the boundaries of what they’ve always done.

Without a shift in old thinking, you cannot expect to see the complete benefits of mass timber off-site construction. The coordination lack there is the single largest driver in the financial success of a project. The material costs are higher, the design costs are higher. The only way to close that gap is in project management.

I’ve left this slide up for a while now, to give you a picture of what I mean with off-site procurement versus traditional. Traditional construction sees a relatively cheap design stage with a quick mobilization on site and a lengthy construction phase. Off-site construction sees a larger investment in upfront design, and a longer lead time before you can commence on site.

The material costs are higher but you have the opportunity to close that cost gap with a reduced construction phase. But keeping in mind that you’re still using a superior building product that costs more. If managed poorly however, the construction phase will still be long, the overall start to finish time even longer than traditional, and the cost would most certainly be higher.

A couple of case studies now. Firstly the Seed House, a multi-million dollar build with a highly complex geometry. The second case study is the Series House near Geelong in Victoria. Again, we start with high-quality architectural models and drawings.

The building itself is just in the final stage of fit-out. We delivered the project last year, obviously, it’s already past the lock-up stage now, but it’s a heavy heavy use of interior and exposed timbers, but also a lot of other stones and concretes and things like that as well to complement the timber.

In conclusion, Mass timber is not a magical product that will solve all your problems. It has its places, but also some obvious areas where it might not be the best fit. Now, let’s talk more specifically about Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) in residential construction.

CLT is a panel type product used in residential construction more than any other mass timber product. Floors, walls, roof panels, etc., are made from CLT rather than post and beam type construction with LVL and glulam. All CLT suppliers prefer to manufacture large, low complexity panels which are most cost-effective. However, the cost will increase for more complex and uniquely shaped panels.

Connection design is another important driver behind complexity. Focus on connections that don’t require heavy machining and hidden slots and rebates for plates, etc., unless absolutely necessary. Some examples: a cast-in connection in concrete that required some heavy machining to the CLT and no tolerance for concrete in that option, whereas the right-hand option is a very simple solution for residential connections to a concrete slab on ground.

Here’s an example of the same size as a billet. When we say billet, this refers to our major panel that we press. It’s like the raw panel that comes out of the press before it goes into the CNC. One example with a single floor panel and the other with several high complexity panels: 23 minutes for the top option versus 140 minutes to make the bottom one. This illustrates how costs for CLT can increase considerably depending on the design.

I think it’s important to know how CLT is made, as this will hopefully provide some background to any of the limitations of the product. We start with random length packs of rough sawn timber boards of various sizes and shapes, but we could feed in any length of board. We then finger join that together to essentially make an infinitely long board, which we can cut back down to the size of the billet that we’re pressing.

Those boards are then planed to an accurate dimension on all four sides. They’re laid up and glued and pressed in a mechanical press to make the billets, and then we put them through the CNC machine to cut into the finished panels.

Once you’ve decided to use mass timber on your project, you’ll need to get an architect and an engineer on board to complete the design. Once this is completed, you’ll engage a supplier. Shop drawings will then be the first stage of that supply process, and without a doubt, it is the most important stage.

So for us to start shop drawings, the design should be at 100% completion, so fully coordinated. We need to have finalized information before we start shop drawings, as we are essentially producing an as-built model and set of drawings for production. People tend to underestimate how long that process takes to coordinate when you’re dealing with prefabricated technologies.

Now, let’s focus on the specifics of residential projects. Commercial builders are generally more experienced in larger-scale coordination and project management. These projects most often have reputable architects and engineers who are more experienced and confident in off-site coordination, in the 3D modeling process, in shop drawing reviews. Domestic construction is still largely that sort of “make it fit on site” philosophy.

So builders tend to simply follow a set of drawings, whether that be from a building designer or an architect, and use their experience and know-how and the residential framing code to build the project traditionally using labor and mostly raw materials on site. This mindset is then somewhat challenging when trying to then introduce new and sophisticated off-site products, like mass timber.

All prefabricated building technologies require a coordination shop drawing phase. But the builder is really the glue that holds all that together. Unfortunately, this tends to happen a lot more on domestic projects. Some builders don’t necessarily have the ability to adapt to an off-site procurement model and try to make it work within the boundaries of what they’ve always done.

Without a shift in old thinking, you cannot expect to see the complete benefits of mass timber off-site construction. The coordination lack there is the single largest driver in the financial success of a project. The material costs are higher, the design costs are higher. The only way to close that gap is in project management.

I’ve left this slide up for a while now, to give you a picture of what I mean with off-site procurement versus traditional. Traditional construction sees a relatively cheap design stage with a quick mobilization on site and a lengthy construction phase. Off-site construction sees a larger investment in upfront design, and a longer lead time before you can commence on site.

The material costs are higher but you have the opportunity to close that cost gap with a reduced construction phase. But keeping in mind that you’re still using a superior building product that costs more. If managed poorly however, the construction phase will still be long, the overall start to finish time even longer than traditional, and the cost would most certainly be higher.

A couple of case studies now. Firstly the Seed House, a multi-million dollar build with a highly complex geometry. The second case study is the Series House near Geelong in Victoria. Again, we start with high-quality architectural models and drawings.

The building itself is just in the final stage of fit-out. We delivered the project last year, obviously, it’s already past the lock-up stage now, but it’s a heavy heavy use of interior and exposed timbers, but also a lot of other stones and concretes and things like that as well to complement the timber.

In conclusion, Mass timber is not a magical product that will solve all your problems. It has its places, but also some obvious areas where it might not be the best fit. Now, let’s talk more specifically about Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) in residential construction.

CLT is a panel type product used in residential construction more than any other mass timber product. Floors, walls, roof panels, etc., are made from CLT rather than post and beam type construction with LVL and glulam. All CLT suppliers prefer to manufacture large, low complexity panels which are most cost-effective. However, the cost will increase for more complex and uniquely shaped panels.

Connection design is another important driver behind complexity. Focus on connections that don’t require heavy machining and hidden slots and rebates for plates, etc., unless absolutely necessary. Some examples: a cast-in connection in concrete that required some heavy machining to the CLT and no tolerance for concrete in that option, whereas the right-hand option is a very simple solution for residential connections to a concrete slab on ground.

Here’s an example of the same size as a billet. When we say billet, this refers to our major panel that we press. It’s like the raw panel that comes out of the press before it goes into the CNC. One example with a single floor panel and the other with several high complexity panels: 23 minutes for the top option versus 140 minutes to make the bottom one. This illustrates how costs for CLT can increase considerably depending on the design.

I think it’s important to know how CLT is made, as this will hopefully provide some background to any of the limitations of the product. We start with random length packs of rough sawn timber boards of various sizes and shapes, but we could feed in any length of board. We then finger join that together to essentially make an infinitely long board, which we can cut back down to the size of the billet that we’re pressing.

Those boards are then planed to an accurate dimension on all four sides. They’re laid up and glued and pressed in a mechanical press to make the billets, and then we put them through the CNC machine to cut into the finished panels.

Once you’ve decided to use mass timber on your project, you’ll need to get an architect and an engineer on board to complete the design. Once this is completed, you’ll engage a supplier. Shop drawings will then be the first stage of that supply process, and without a doubt, it is the most important stage.

So for us to start shop drawings, the design should be at 100% completion, so fully coordinated. We need to have finalized information before we start shop drawings, as we are essentially producing an as-built model and set of drawings for production. People tend to underestimate how long that process takes to coordinate when you’re dealing with prefabricated technologies.

Now, let’s focus on the specifics of residential projects. Commercial builders are generally more experienced in larger-scale coordination and project management. These projects most often have reputable architects and engineers who are more experienced and confident in off-site coordination, in the 3D modeling process, in shop drawing reviews. Domestic construction is still largely that sort of “make it fit on site” philosophy.

So builders tend to simply follow a set of drawings, whether that be from a building designer or an architect, and use their experience and know-how and the residential framing code to build the project traditionally using labor and mostly raw materials on site. This mindset is then somewhat challenging when trying to then introduce new and sophisticated off-site products, like mass timber.

All prefabricated building technologies require a coordination shop drawing phase. But the builder is really the glue that holds all that together. Unfortunately, this tends to happen a lot more on domestic projects. Some builders don’t necessarily have the ability to adapt to an off-site procurement model and try to make it work within the boundaries of what they’ve always done.

Without a shift in old thinking, you cannot expect to see the complete benefits of mass timber off-site construction. The coordination lack there is the single largest driver in the financial success of a project. The material costs are higher, the design costs are higher. The only way to close that gap is in project management.

I’ve left this slide up for a while now, to give you a picture of what I mean with off-site procurement versus traditional. Traditional construction sees a relatively cheap design stage with a quick mobilization on site and a lengthy construction phase. Off-site construction sees a larger investment in upfront design, and a longer lead time before you can commence on site.

The material costs are higher but you have the opportunity to close that cost gap with a reduced construction phase. But keeping in mind that you’re still using a superior building product that costs more. If managed poorly however, the construction phase will still be long, the overall start to finish time even longer than traditional, and the cost would most certainly be higher.

A couple of case studies now. Firstly the Seed House, a multi-million dollar build with a highly complex geometry. The second case study is the Series House near Geelong in Victoria. Again, we start with high-quality architectural models and drawings.

The building itself is just in the final stage of fit-out. We delivered the project last year, obviously, it’s already past the lock-up stage now, but it’s a heavy heavy use of interior and exposed timbers, but also a lot of other stones and concretes and things like that as well to complement the timber.

In conclusion, Mass timber is not a magical product that will solve all your problems. It has its places, but also some obvious areas where it might not be the best fit. Now, let’s talk more specifically about Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) in residential construction.

CLT is a panel type product used in residential construction more than any other mass timber product. Floors, walls, roof panels, etc., are made from CLT rather than post and beam type construction with LVL and glulam. All CLT suppliers prefer to manufacture large, low complexity panels which are most cost-effective. However, the cost will increase for more complex and uniquely shaped panels.

Connection design is another important driver behind complexity. Focus on connections that don’t require heavy machining and hidden slots and rebates for plates, etc., unless absolutely necessary. Some examples: a cast-in connection in concrete that required some heavy machining to the CLT and no tolerance for concrete in that option, whereas the right-hand option is a very simple solution for residential connections to a concrete slab on ground.

Here’s an example of the same size as a billet. When we say billet, this refers to our major panel that we press. It’s like the raw panel that comes out of the press before it goes into the CNC. One example with a single floor panel and the other with several high complexity panels: 23 minutes for the top option versus 140 minutes to make the bottom one. This illustrates how costs for CLT can increase considerably depending on the design.

I think it’s important to know how CLT is made, as this will hopefully provide some background to any of the limitations of the product. We start with random length packs of rough sawn timber boards of various sizes and shapes, but we could feed in any length of board. We then finger join that together to essentially make an infinitely long board, which we can cut back down to the size of the billet that we’re pressing.

Those boards are then planed to an accurate dimension on all four sides. They’re laid up and glued and pressed in a mechanical press to make the billets, and then we put them through the CNC machine to cut into the finished panels.

Once you’ve decided to use mass timber on your project, you’ll need to get an architect and an engineer on board to complete the design. Once this is completed, you’ll engage a supplier. Shop drawings will then be the first stage of that supply process, and without a doubt, it is the most important stage.

So for us to start shop drawings, the design should be at 100% completion, so fully coordinated. We need to have finalized information before we start shop drawings, as we are essentially producing an as-built model and set of drawings for production. People tend to underestimate how long that process takes to coordinate when you’re dealing with prefabricated technologies.

Now, let’s focus on the specifics of residential projects. Commercial builders are generally more experienced in larger-scale coordination and project management. These projects most often have reputable architects and engineers who are more experienced and confident in off-site coordination, in the 3D modeling process, in shop drawing reviews. Domestic construction is still largely that sort of “make it fit on site” philosophy.

So builders tend to simply follow a set of drawings, whether that be from a building designer or an architect, and use their experience and know-how and the residential framing code to build the project traditionally using labor and mostly raw materials on site. This mindset is then somewhat challenging when trying to then introduce new and sophisticated off-site products, like mass timber.

All prefabricated building technologies require a coordination shop drawing phase. But the builder is really the glue that holds all that together. Unfortunately, this tends to happen a lot more on domestic projects. Some builders don’t necessarily have the ability to adapt to an off-site procurement model and try to make it work within the boundaries of what they’ve always done.

Without a shift in old thinking, you cannot expect to see the complete benefits of mass timber off-site construction. The coordination lack there is the single largest driver in the financial success of a project. The material costs are higher, the design costs are higher. The only way to close that gap is in project management.

I’ve left this slide up for a while now, to give you a picture of what I mean with off-site procurement versus traditional. Traditional construction sees a relatively cheap design stage with a quick mobilization on site and a lengthy construction phase. Off-site construction sees a larger investment in upfront design, and a longer lead time before you can commence on site.

The material costs are higher but you have the opportunity to close that cost gap with a reduced construction phase. But keeping in mind that you’re still using a superior building product that costs more. If managed poorly however, the construction phase will still be long, the overall start to finish time even longer than traditional, and the cost would most certainly be higher.

A couple of case studies now. Firstly the Seed House, a multi-million dollar build with a highly complex geometry. The second case study is the Series House near Geelong in Victoria. Again, we start with high-quality architectural models and drawings.

The building itself is just in the final stage of fit-out. We delivered the project last year, obviously, it’s already past the lock-up stage now, but it’s a heavy heavy use of interior and exposed timbers, but also a lot of other stones and concretes and things like that as well to complement the timber.

In conclusion, Mass timber is not a magical product that will solve all your problems. It has its places, but also some obvious areas where it might not be the best fit. Now, let’s talk more specifically about Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) in residential construction.

CLT is a panel type product used in residential construction more than any other mass timber product. Floors, walls, roof panels, etc., are made from CLT rather than post and beam type construction with LVL and glulam. All CLT suppliers prefer to manufacture large, low complexity panels which are most cost-effective. However, the cost will increase for more complex and uniquely shaped panels.

Connection design is another important driver behind complexity. Focus on connections that don’t require heavy machining and hidden slots and rebates for plates, etc., unless absolutely necessary. Some examples: a cast-in connection in concrete that required some heavy machining to the CLT and no tolerance for concrete in that option, whereas the right-hand option is a very simple solution for residential connections to a concrete slab on ground.

Here’s an example of the same size as a billet. When we say billet, this refers to our major panel that we press. It’s like the raw panel that comes out of the press before it goes into the CNC. One example with a single floor panel and the other with several high complexity panels: 23 minutes for the top option versus 140 minutes to make the bottom one. This illustrates how costs for CLT can increase considerably depending on the design.

I think it’s important to know how CLT is made, as this will hopefully provide some background to any of the limitations of the product. We start with random length packs of rough sawn timber boards of various sizes and shapes, but we could feed in any length of board. We then finger join that together to essentially make an infinitely long board, which we can cut back down to the size of the billet that we’re pressing.

Those boards are then planed to an accurate dimension on all four sides. They’re laid up and glued and pressed in a mechanical press to make the billets, and then we put them through the CNC machine to cut into the finished panels.

Once you’ve decided to use mass timber on your project, you’ll need to get an architect and an engineer on board to complete the design.

Once this is completed, you’ll engage a supplier. Shop drawings will then be the first stage of that supply process, and without a doubt, it is the most important stage.

To start the shop drawings, the design should be at 100% completion, fully coordinated. We need finalized information before we start shop drawings, as we are essentially producing an as-built model and set of drawings for production. People often underestimate how long this process takes to coordinate when dealing with prefabricated technologies.

In residential projects, commercial builders are generally more experienced in larger-scale coordination and project management. These projects often have reputable architects and engineers who are more experienced and confident in off-site coordination, in the 3D modeling process, and in shop drawing reviews. Domestic construction is still largely that sort of “make it fit on site” philosophy.

So builders often simply follow a set of drawings, whether that be from a building designer or an architect, and use their experience and know-how and the residential framing code to build the project traditionally using labor and mostly raw materials on site. This mindset is somewhat challenging when trying to introduce new and sophisticated off-site products, like mass timber.

All prefabricated building technologies require a coordination shop drawing phase. But the builder is really the glue that holds all that together. Unfortunately, this tends to happen more in domestic projects. Some builders don’t necessarily have the ability to adapt to an off-site procurement model and try to make it work within the boundaries of what they’ve always done.

Without a shift in old thinking, you cannot expect to see the complete benefits of mass timber off-site construction. The coordination gap is the single largest driver in the financial success of a project. The material costs are higher, the design costs are higher. The only way to close that cost gap is in project management.

Traditional construction sees a relatively cheap design stage with a quick mobilization on site and a lengthy construction phase. Off-site construction sees a larger investment in upfront design, and a longer lead time before you can commence on site.

The material costs are higher but you have the opportunity to close that cost gap with a reduced construction phase. But remember that you’re still using a superior building product that costs more. If managed poorly, the construction phase will still be long, the overall start to finish time even longer than traditional, and the cost would most certainly be higher.

A couple of case studies now. Firstly the Seed House, a multi-million dollar build with highly complex geometry. The second case study is the Series House near Geelong in Victoria. Again, we start with high-quality architectural models and drawings.

The building itself is just in the final stage of fit-out. We delivered the project last year, obviously, it’s already past the lock-up stage now, but it’s a heavy use of interior and exposed timbers, but also a lot of other stones and concretes as well to complement the timber.

In conclusion, Mass timber is not a magical product that will solve all your problems. It has its places, but also some obvious areas where it might not be the best fit. CLT is a panel type product used in residential construction more than any other mass timber product. Floors, walls, roof panels, etc., are made from CLT rather than post and beam type construction with LVL and glulam.

All CLT suppliers prefer to manufacture large, low complexity panels which are most cost-effective. However, the cost will increase for more complex and uniquely shaped panels.

Connection design is another important driver behind complexity. Focus on connections that don’t require heavy machining and hidden slots and rebates for plates, etc., unless absolutely necessary.

Here’s an example of the same size as a billet. When we say billet, this refers to our major panel that we press. It’s like the raw panel that comes out of the press before it goes into the CNC. One example with a single floor panel and the other with several high complexity panels: 23 minutes for the top option versus 140 minutes to make the bottom one. This illustrates how costs for CLT can increase considerably depending on the design.

I think it’s important to know how CLT is made, as this will hopefully provide some background to any of the limitations of the product. We start with random length packs of rough sawn timber boards of various sizes and shapes, but we could feed in any length of board. We then finger join that together to essentially make an infinitely long board, which we can cut back down to the size of the billet that we’re pressing.

Those boards are then planed to an accurate dimension on all four sides. They’re laid up and glued and pressed in a mechanical press to make the billets, and then we put them through the CNC machine to cut into the finished panels.

Once you’ve decided to use mass timber on your project, you’ll need to get an architect and an engineer on board to complete the design. Once this is completed, you’ll engage a supplier. Shop drawings will then be the first stage of that supply process, and without a doubt, it is the most important stage.

So for us to start shop drawings, the design should be at 100% completion, so fully coordinated. We need to have finalized information before we start shop drawings, as we are essentially producing an as-built model and set of drawings for production. People tend to underestimate how long that process takes to coordinate when you’re dealing with prefabricated technologies.

Now, let’s focus on the specifics of residential projects. Commercial builders are generally more experienced in larger-scale coordination and project management. These projects most often have reputable architects and engineers who are more experienced and confident in off-site coordination, in the 3D modeling process, in shop drawing reviews. Domestic construction is still largely that sort of “make it fit on site” philosophy.

So builders tend to simply follow a set of drawings, whether that be from a building designer or an architect, and use their experience and know-how and the residential framing code to build the project traditionally using labor and mostly raw materials on site. This mindset is then somewhat challenging when trying to then introduce new and sophisticated off-site products, like mass timber.

All prefabricated building technologies require a coordination shop drawing phase. But the builder is really the glue that holds all that together. Unfortunately, this tends to happen a lot more on domestic projects. Some builders don’t necessarily have the ability to adapt to an off-site procurement model and try to make it work within the boundaries of what they’ve always done.

Without a shift in old thinking, you cannot expect to see the complete benefits of mass timber off-site construction. The coordination lack there is the single largest driver in the financial success of a project. The material costs are higher, the design costs are higher. The only way to close that gap is in project management.

I’ve left this slide up for a while now, to give you a picture of what I mean with off-site procurement versus traditional. Traditional construction sees a relatively cheap design stage with a quick mobilization on site and a lengthy construction phase. Off-site construction sees a larger investment in upfront design, and a longer lead time before you can commence on site.

The material costs are higher but you have the opportunity to close that cost gap with a reduced construction phase. But remember that you’re still using a superior building product that costs more. If managed poorly, the construction phase will still be long, the overall start to finish time even longer than traditional, and the cost would most certainly be higher.

A couple of case studies now. Firstly the Seed House, a multi-million dollar build with a highly complex geometry. The second case study is the Series House near Geelong in Victoria. Again, we start with high-quality architectural models and drawings.

The building itself is just in the final stage of fit-out. We delivered the project last year, obviously, it’s already past the lock-up stage now, but it’s a heavy use of interior and exposed timbers, but also a lot of other stones and concretes as well to complement the timber.

In conclusion, Mass timber is not a magical product that will solve all your problems. It has its places, but also some obvious areas where it might not be the best fit. CLT is a panel type product used in residential construction more than any other mass timber product. Floors, walls, roof panels, etc., are made from CLT rather than post and beam type construction with LVL and glulam.

All CLT suppliers prefer to manufacture large, low complexity panels which are most cost-effective. However, the cost will increase for more complex and uniquely shaped panels.

Connection design is another important driver behind complexity. Focus on connections that don’t require heavy machining and hidden slots and rebates for plates, etc., unless absolutely necessary.

Here’s an example of the same size as a billet. When we say billet, this refers to our major panel that we press. It’s like the raw panel that comes out of the press before it goes into the CNC. One example with a single floor panel and the other with several high complexity panels: 23 minutes for the top option versus 140 minutes to make the bottom one. This illustrates how costs for CLT can increase considerably depending on the design.

I think it’s important to know how CLT is made, as this will hopefully provide some background to any of the limitations of the product. We start with random length packs of rough sawn timber boards of various sizes and shapes, but we could feed in any length of board. We then finger join that together to essentially make an infinitely long board, which we can cut back down to the size of the billet that we’re pressing.

Those boards are then planed to an accurate dimension on all four sides. They’re laid up and glued and pressed in a mechanical press to make the billets, and then we put them through the CNC machine to cut into the finished panels.

Once you’ve decided to use mass timber on your project, you’ll need to get an architect and an engineer on board to complete the design. Once this is completed, you’ll engage a supplier. Shop drawings will then be the first stage of that supply process, and without a doubt, it is the most important stage.

So for us to start shop drawings, the design should be at 100% completion, so fully coordinated. We need to have finalized information before we start shop drawings, as we are essentially producing an as-built model and set of drawings for production. People tend to underestimate how long that process takes to coordinate when you’re dealing with prefabricated technologies.

Now, let’s focus on the specifics of residential projects. Commercial builders are generally more experienced in larger-scale coordination and project management. These projects most often have reputable architects and engineers who are more experienced and confident in off-site coordination, in the 3D modeling process, in shop drawing reviews. Domestic construction is still largely that sort of “make it fit on site” philosophy.

So builders tend to simply follow a set of drawings, whether that be from a building designer or an architect, and use their experience and know-how and the residential framing code to build the project traditionally using labor and mostly raw materials on site. This mindset is then somewhat challenging when trying to then introduce new and sophisticated off-site products, like mass timber.

All prefabricated building technologies require a coordination shop drawing phase. But the builder is really the glue that holds all that together. Unfortunately, this tends to happen a lot more on domestic projects. Some builders don’t necessarily have the ability to adapt to an off-site procurement model and try to make it work within the boundaries of what they’ve always done.

Without a shift in old thinking, you cannot expect to see the complete benefits of mass timber off-site construction. The coordination lack there is the single largest driver in the financial success of a project. The material costs are higher, the design costs are higher. The only way to close that cost gap is in project management.

I’ve left this slide up for a while now, to give you a picture of what I mean with off-site procurement versus traditional. Traditional construction sees a relatively cheap design stage with a quick mobilization on site and a lengthy construction phase. Off-site construction sees a larger investment in upfront design, and a longer lead time before you can commence on site.

The material costs are higher but you have the opportunity to close that cost gap with a reduced construction phase. But remember that you’re still using a superior building product that costs more. If managed poorly, the construction phase will still be long, the overall start to finish time even longer than traditional, and the cost would most certainly be higher.

A couple of case studies now. Firstly the Seed House, a multi-million dollar build with a highly complex geometry. The second case study is the Series House near Geelong in Victoria. Again, we start with high-quality architectural models and drawings.

The building itself is just in the final stage of fit-out. We delivered the project last year, obviously, it’s already past the lock-up stage now, but it’s a heavy use of interior and exposed timbers, but also a lot of other stones and concretes as well to complement the timber.

In conclusion, Mass timber is not a magical product that will solve all your problems. It has its places, but also some obvious areas where it might not be the best fit. CLT is a panel type product used in residential construction more than any other mass timber product. Floors, walls, roof panels, etc., are made from CLT rather than post and beam type construction with LVL and glulam.

All CLT suppliers prefer to manufacture large, low complexity panels which are most cost-effective. However, the cost will increase for more complex and uniquely shaped panels.

Connection design is another important driver behind complexity. Focus on connections that don’t require heavy machining and hidden slots and rebates for plates, etc., unless absolutely necessary.

Here’s an example of the same size as a billet. When we say billet, this refers to our major panel that we press. It’s like the raw panel that comes out of the press before it goes into the CNC. One example with a single floor panel and the other with several high complexity panels: 23 minutes for the top option versus 140 minutes to make the bottom one. This illustrates how costs for CLT can increase considerably depending on the design.

I think it’s important to know how CLT is made, as this will hopefully provide some background to any of the limitations of the product. We start with random length packs of rough sawn timber boards of various sizes and shapes, but we could feed in any length of board. We then finger join that together to essentially make an infinitely long board, which we can cut back down to the size of the billet that we’re pressing.

Those boards are then planed to an accurate dimension on all four sides. They’re laid up and glued and pressed in a mechanical press to make the billets, and then we put them through the CNC machine to cut into the finished panels.

Once you’ve decided to use mass timber on your project, you’ll need to get an architect and an engineer on board to complete the design. Once this is completed, you’ll engage a supplier. Shop drawings will then be the first stage of that supply process, and without a doubt, it is the most important stage.

So for us to start shop drawings, the design should be at 100% completion, so fully coordinated. We need to have finalized information before we start shop drawings, as we are essentially producing an as-built model and set of drawings for production. People tend to underestimate how long that process takes to coordinate when you’re dealing with prefabricated technologies.

Now, let’s focus on the specifics of residential projects. Commercial builders are generally more experienced in larger-scale coordination and project management. These projects most often have reputable architects and engineers who are more experienced and confident in off-site coordination, in the 3D modeling process, in shop drawing reviews. Domestic construction is still largely that sort of “make it fit on site” philosophy.

So builders tend to simply follow a set of drawings, whether that be from a building designer or an architect, and use their experience and know-how and the residential framing code to build the project traditionally using labor and mostly raw materials on site. This mindset is then somewhat challenging when trying to then introduce new and sophisticated off-site products, like mass timber.

All prefabricated building technologies require a coordination shop drawing phase. But the builder is really the glue that holds all that together. Unfortunately, this tends to happen more on domestic projects. Some builders don’t necessarily have the ability to adapt to an off-site procurement model and try to make it work within the boundaries of what they’ve always done.

Without a shift in old thinking, you cannot expect to see the complete benefits of mass timber off-site construction. The coordination lack there is the single largest driver in the financial success of a project. The material costs are higher, the design costs are higher. The only way to close that cost gap is in project management.

I’ve left this slide up for a while now, to give you a picture of what I mean with off-site procurement versus traditional. Traditional construction sees a relatively cheap design stage with a quick mobilization on site and a lengthy construction phase. Off-site construction sees a larger investment in upfront design, and a longer lead time before you can commence on site.

The material costs are higher but you have the opportunity to close that cost gap with a reduced construction phase. But remember that you’re still using a superior building product that costs more. If managed poorly, the construction phase will still be long, the overall start to finish time even longer than traditional, and the cost would most certainly be higher.

A couple of case studies now. Firstly the Seed House, a multi-million dollar build with a highly complex geometry. The second case study is the Series House near Geelong in Victoria. Again, we start with high-quality architectural models and drawings.

The building itself is just in the final stage of fit-out. We delivered the project last year, obviously, it’s already past the lock-up stage now, but it’s a heavy use of interior and exposed timbers, but also a lot of other stones and concretes as well to complement the timber.

In conclusion, Mass timber is not a magical product that will solve all your problems. It has its places, but also some obvious areas where it might not be the best fit. CLT is a panel type product used in residential construction more than any other mass timber product. Floors, walls, roof panels, etc., are made from CLT rather than post and beam type construction with LVL and glulam.

All CLT suppliers prefer to manufacture large, low complexity panels which are most cost-effective. However, the cost will increase for more complex and uniquely shaped panels.

Connection design is another important driver behind complexity. Focus on connections that don’t require heavy machining and hidden slots and rebates for plates, etc., unless absolutely necessary.

Here’s an example of the same size as a billet. When we say billet, this refers to our major panel that we press. It’s like the raw panel that comes out of the press before it goes into the CNC. One example with a single floor panel and the other with several high complexity panels: 23 minutes for the top option versus 140 minutes to make the bottom one. This illustrates how costs for CLT can increase considerably depending on the design.

I think it’s important to know how CLT is made, as this will hopefully provide some background to any of the limitations of the product. We start with random length packs of rough sawn timber boards of various sizes and shapes, but we could feed in any length of board. We then finger join that together to essentially make an infinitely long board, which we can cut back down to the size of the billet that we’re pressing.

Those boards are then planed to an accurate dimension on all four sides. They’re laid up and glued and pressed in a mechanical press to make the billets, and then we put them through the CNC machine to cut into the finished panels.

Once you’ve decided to use mass timber on your project, you’ll need to get an architect and an engineer on board to complete the design. Once this is completed, you’ll engage a supplier. Shop drawings will then be the first stage of that supply process, and without a doubt, it is the most important stage.

So for us to start shop drawings, the design should be at 100% completion, so fully coordinated. We need to have finalized information before we start shop drawings, as we are essentially producing an as-built model and set of drawings for production. People tend to underestimate how long that process takes to coordinate when you’re dealing with prefabricated technologies.

Now, let’s focus on the specifics of residential projects. Commercial builders are generally more experienced in larger-scale coordination and project management. These projects most often have reputable architects and engineers who are more experienced and confident in off-site coordination, in the 3D modeling process, in shop drawing reviews. Domestic construction is still largely that sort of “make it fit on site” philosophy.

So builders tend to simply follow a set of drawings, whether that be from a building designer or an architect, and use their experience and know-how and the residential framing code to build the project traditionally using labor and mostly raw materials on site. This mindset is then somewhat challenging when trying to then introduce new and sophisticated off-site products, like mass timber.

All prefabricated building technologies require a coordination shop drawing phase. But the builder is really the glue that holds all that together. Unfortunately, this tends to happen more on domestic projects. Some builders don’t necessarily have the ability to adapt to an off-site procurement model and try to make it work within the boundaries of what they’ve always done.

Without a shift in old thinking, you cannot expect to see the complete benefits of mass timber off-site construction. The coordination lack there is the single largest driver in the financial success of a project. The material costs are higher, the design costs are higher. The only way to close that gap is in project management.

I’ve left this slide up for a while now, to give you a picture of what I mean with off-site procurement versus traditional. Traditional construction sees a relatively cheap design stage with a quick mobilization on site and a lengthy construction phase. Off-site construction sees a larger investment in upfront design, and a longer lead time before you can commence on site.

The material costs are higher but you have the opportunity to close that cost gap with a reduced construction phase. But remember that you’re still using a superior building product that costs more. If managed poorly, the construction phase will still be long, the overall start to finish time even longer than traditional, and the cost would most certainly be higher.

A couple of case studies now. Firstly the Seed House, a multi-million dollar build with a highly complex geometry. The second case study is the Series House near Geelong in Victoria. Again, we start with high-quality architectural models and drawings.

The building itself is just in the final stage of fit-out. We delivered the project last year, obviously, it’s already past the lock-up stage now, but it’s a heavy use of interior and exposed timbers, but also a lot of other stones and concretes as well to complement the timber.

In conclusion, Mass timber is not a magical product that will solve all your problems. It has its places, but also some obvious areas where it might not be the best fit. Thank you for listening and I’m open to take some questions.

Hardwood CLT: An Australian Innovation

Cross Laminated Timber Passive House That inspires.

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