The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition recently launched the campaign to use timber for housing especially in the affordable housing space. Many African countries are way ahead of us in this regard and during recent virtual meetings the discussion around the topic has generated much interesting views. All positive one must add.

Image credit: ©Timber iQ | Leon Louw

Image credit: ©Timber iQ | Leon Louw

There are many myths around timber and some being fear of fire, propensity of rotting, expensive, lack of structural integrity, thermally inefficient and a bunch more myths that hold no water!

Timber has a natural ability to store carbon, is a natural insulator, is durable for both residential and commercial applications, uses much less energy and physiological and psychological health benefits.

Wood has been used all over the world with great success. In South Africa in the 1800s, wooden homes were built and burnt down simply because they were raw and untreated wood, whereas today modern wood preservatives and coatings enhance the durability and hazard concerns.

Building with wood is fast and efficient due mainly to the fact that they can be built offsite.

Wood is versatile, recyclable, renewable and long lasting.

Whilst we do have standards for timber framed housing, we do need to develop a standard for mass timber housing enabling the local authorities and fire departments to have a document to work with bearing in mind standards are there to protect the health and safety of people.

Considering the severe shortage of housing in this country and the appalling condition many of our citizens live in, we need to be thinking of the reason for and not against. Granted, the Department of Human Settlements accepts timber as an alternative material, but timber must be a primary material if we have any hope of housing people.