Aubrey Street Timber Frame Apartments

Case Study for Aubrey Street Apartments

Taylor Lane Timber Frame required a sheathing board solution that would enable them to safely build in close proximity to other buildings, with the risk of disproportionate collapse a serious consideration.

  • The Project: Aubrey Street Apartments, Herefordshire
  • Project Value: £1.4 million
  • Main Contractor: Speller Metcalfe
  • Subcontractor: Taylor Lane Timber Frame
  • Product: Versaliner

A £1.4 million, five-storey development of some 1,700 square metres, accommodating 23 individual apartments, Aubrey Street in Herefordshire was a substantial project for timber-frame specialists, Taylor Lane.

Taylor Lane had been engaged by main contractor Speller Metcalfe, an award-winning sustainable construction company with expertise in BREEAM, Passivhaus and the Code for Sustainable Homes.

The Project

The development, for client Marches Housing Association, was to be constructed in close proximity to existing properties on three sides. As is often the case with developments where space and access is restricted, off-site construction methods were employed. Taylor Lane Timber Frame specialise in manufacturing structural grade C16 timber frame panels in a quality controlled environment.

Prior to Aubrey Street, Taylor Lane’s timber frame panels incorporated an external sheathing layer comprising typically, either OSB or plywood, depending upon the application. Indeed, the specification for Aubrey Street had requested just these kinds of materials. Taylor Lane decided something more was needed.

The Challenge

The close proximity of the site to other buildings and the risk of disproportionate collapse meant that the consequences of accidental fire or even a possible arson attack had to be taken very seriously. This is a particular hazard faced by timber frame construction projects. In fact, the Structural Timber Association has launched several initiatives to combat this phenomenon, including detailed guidance.

According the STA guidance, “All buildings should have appropriate fire protection designed and built-in as early as possible and maintained throughout the entire construction phase… For smaller or low-risk sites, the general good housekeeping and standard approach may be more appropriate… For other sites the sub-division of the frame by fire-resisting barriers must be considered as part of the strategy for minimising fire spread risk during construction.”

The Solution

Aubrey Street certainly didn’t fall into the “smaller or low-risk” categories. Consequently, Taylor Lane opted to use Eurform’s Versaliner instead of the specified OSB.

Versaliner is an A1 Non-Combustible Magnesium Oxide sheathing board with excellent tensile, compression and breaking strengths, and high resistance to impact, moisture and insect attack. Excellent racking resistance means it is particularly suited to timber frame applications, offering additional stability. The fact that Versaliner is also ‘score and snap’ means it can be fabricated on-site without the need for additional, specialist cutting equipment or can be seamlessly incorporated into the streamlined processes of off-site, factory-based, quality-controlled construction.

Taylor Lane worked closely with Euroform’s technical team, taking advantage of their expertise and experience in the complex area of passive fire protection, to ensure Versaliner was the appropriate product for this particular application.

Duly satisfied that all their criteria had been met and all their concerns addressed, Taylor Lane began incorporating Versaliner into their timber-frame panels as part of their off-site construction process.

A spokesperson for Taylor Lane Timber Frame said, “Versaliner enabled us to safely build on a site where fire risk was a significant factor. Without it, we’d have struggled to proceed. We’re more than happy with the product, its very competitive pricing and ready availability.”