Construction kits of large solid wood panels are on the rise

“The Fleming has a brick in his stomach? Soon it will be a tree ”

May 31, 2019
Gazet van Antwerpen

Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) is a timber construction system of large glued solid wood panels. Real estate arm of the city of Antwerp AG Vespa is working on it for one of its new construction projects. And Vespa is not alone. "We see demand doubling year after year," says construction company CLT-S.

Briefly explained, CLT is cross-laminated wood. Planks are glued together into large solid plates. Those plates are used for placing a carcass. The technique was developed in Austria in the 1990s and was introduced in our country about ten years ago. “This makes building very fast,” explains Marco Camerman of construction company Green-Team. “However, more thought has to be given in advance by architects and engineers. Because the plates are cut by machine and windows, doors and space for sockets and cables are also milled out immediately. ”

But that has its advantages, says Jimmy De Kerpel of WoodyHomes. “Even the world champion bricklaying can't work that way exactly. You can order your windows and doors in advance instead of having to wait until the building work has been completed. You also pay less to electricians or plumbers, because there are already sockets for sockets, cables and pipes. In addition, the walls are perfectly straight. You don't need plasters either. ”

"Do you know what it is? In construction today, everything has to be faster and more precise. Because we are facing a severe staff shortage. With this method, all preparations are made in the factory. This week we placed a completely new-build home in just two days, ”says De Kerpel.

Working with CLT is more expensive than a normal stone or concrete structure. “5 to 10%. But in the finishing phase you are cheaper. A young couple who hires will be able to get into their home faster and will save rental costs again, ”De Kerpel and Camerman explain. “If you look at the total costs, you are not necessarily more expensive,” says Ivan Van den Broeck of CLT-S.

Sustainable

And then you have the sustainability aspect. The CLT technique scores well for this. “This type of wood construction stores CO2 instead of consuming it and also has a high insulation value,” says Marc Dillen, director general of the Flemish Confederation of Construction. “The plates are produced outside Flanders, in wooded areas. Another advantage is that the plates do not wear out as long as they do not come into contact with moisture. When a house is demolished, the plates can therefore be cut to the size of a new building. ” "The Fleming may still have a brick in his stomach today, soon it will be a tree," says De Kerpel with a laugh.
Because building with CLT has been on the rise since 2012, Marc Dillen knows. And not only for placing family homes. “You can also build in height with it. And because wood is lighter than concrete, CLT makes it easy to add floors to an existing construction. ” Although you have to take sound-insulating measures between the different floors when building apartments.
“This construction technique has really broken through in our country in the last four years,” says Ivan Van den Broeck. “We double every year. We are building schools in CLT, sports halls, apartments… ”“ This is really booming, ”De Kerpel says.

The whole house arrives on one truck. PHOTO JOREN DE WEERDT

Placement of a family house in CLT PHOTO JOREN DE WEERDT

“Not for everyone”

Joren De Weerdt (29) and his girlfriend Jolien Neutjens set up a house in CLT in Berlaar last year. “Our architect had delivered the idea. We both have a predilection for the Scandinavian style with lots of wood. We have therefore left large parts of the structural work visible in our interior. It took a year for our construction plans to be fully finalized. Because your sockets, ventilation channels, etc. must all be correctly registered. Especially when you want to leave parts of the wood visible. Fortunately, Jolien is an interior architect. She was able to visualize things like points of light in 3D in advance. This allowed us to determine perfectly where which socket, light point or ventilation channel should be. I can imagine that this is not for every private builder. Good guidance from an architect or contractor is therefore very important with this technique. ”
But once drawn, it goes fast. "A few weeks later, our house hit a big truck," he says. "And the whole package was put together in four days." Whether this was a more expensive option than a traditional carcass? “We don't really know that. We were a fan of building with this solid wood from the start. ” (evw)

PHOTO JOREN DE WEERDT

GVA - Elien Van Wynsberghe
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