5 Considerations for Mass Timber Construction

January 24, 2022 0 Comments

       Do you know the difference between mass timber and wood frame when it comes to construction? Some Individuals may perceive both as large pieces of lumber used for building various structures. Even though both materials derive from trees, mass timber is used for larger projects as it is engineered to be stronger, straighter, stiffer, and lighter than concrete or steel. Typically used alongside other construction materials, mass timber is a sustainable element that can benefit projects. In a recent sit down with Cheri Hanes, Senior SDI Construction Risk Engineer at AXA XL, we receive five items to consider when using mass timber on a construction site:

1.       Know Your Partners

2.       Be Strategic with Placement Strategy

3.       Put the Right Strategies in Place to Manage Water

4.       Materials / Supply Chain Management

5.       Think About Fire

Know Your Partners

                When first considering mass timber, you must understand who you will be working with and their experience with the material. Cheri Hanes states that "people need to choose to do business with those who have as much experience [with mass timber] as possible" and that it is worth seeking out those who have specialized in the material. By working in conjunction with mass timber experts, you are more likely to avoid problems as these firms already know the nuances and attributes of the material. By knowing your partner's experience level, you can better prepare yourself for potential successes and roadblocks.

Be Strategic with Placement Strategy

                Another critical factor one should consider when working with mass timber is the placement strategy around the material. When thinking about placement strategy, Cheri suggests asking the following questions: Which subcontractor will you use, will you do it with internal forces? Who is going to hold the subcontract if there is one? Who is going to manage the work? Are you going to use the manufacturers and consultant's expertise? By asking these questions, you can better strategize the placement of work, leading to preferable results.

Put the Right Strategies in Place to Manage Water

                When utilizing mass timber on a construction site, it is critical to think about managing water as it is an element that can damage the material. A project team can mitigate water risk through technology that notifies managers of weather warnings and leak detections. Cheri states that it is vital "builders have a rain crew ready with the right instructions and equipment to clear water from the structure in the event of some kind of water release – whether it is external or internal." Temporary measures should be in place if water gets into the structure as it is under construction. A project team can alleviate potential water risks by implementing wet works permit protocols to help mitigate water damage. By putting the right tactics and strategies to manage water on a project, you diminish the risk of potential water desolation. 

Materials / Supply Chain Management

                Another item that a project team should consider is understanding where the materials are coming from. Tracking the production and transportation of mass timber will help with the sequence of materials placement. In our interview with Cheri, she says the project team should "have the materials arrive on site sequence, even if it costs more" because it will save time and handling of the material. In addition, by effectively managing the materials and supply chain, you are more likely to see project continuity and drive your team to stay organized and on schedule.

Think About Fire

                Fire is another element that can destroy mass timber. Even though mass timber has less fire risk than wood frame, strategies should be in place to help assuage any potential hazards. Like the wet works permit protocols used to prevent water damage, there are hot works permit protocols that should be in place to help prevent/mitigate fires. Technology is available that can assist in alleviating the risk of fire and should be considered for mass timber projects. Cheri mentions that "builders can utilize technology to monitor for smoke or heat." Another way to manage this risk is to have on-site security to watch for fire and vandalism. The project team can talk to the local fire department and tour the facility when building a structure. This will help the fire department prepare for any potential hazards that could take place. By implementing these protocols, you can mitigate the risk of fire, which will help keep the project safe and on schedule.

                Mass timber is a durable and sustainable material used for various construction projects and comes with many benefits. By considering these five points when using mass timber, you and your team are more likely to succeed when choosing mass timber for your project. To learn more, listen to our podcast with Cheri Hanes, 5 Considerations for Mass Timber Construction, to learn more about mitigating risk when utilizing mass timber.


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Email Cheri at Cheri.hanes@axaxl.com
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