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From a safety point of view, modern buildings made of wood are no different to those made of concrete. However, consumer awareness is low. 84% of Poles are afraid of inflammability of wooden buildings and 55% question their durability – according to the report of the Ministry of Environment. Consumer concerns are confirmed by differences in insurance prices. The policy for a concrete building is even several dozen percent cheaper than for a wooden building. Experts from the Polish Wooden Houses Association point out that the dialogue with the insurance industry is an important element of educating the market about the safety of wooden construction.
Prefabricated modular wooden structures are slowly making their home on the Polish market. Their popularisation, however, must go hand in hand with an increased awareness of the industry and consumers. So far, Poles’ first three associations with a wooden building are: highlander’s house (74%), summer house (67%) and country house (57%). Few are aware of the possibility to build year-round detached houses (14% of indications) and multi-family buildings (2%), according to the report of the Ministry of Environment. Moreover, as many as 84% of Poles are of the opinion that a wooden house is flammable, 70% state that it is exposed to pests and 55% question its durability.
– One of our missions is to popularise the knowledge which confirms that modern wooden buildings are as resistant, durable and safe as concrete ones. This is confirmed, among others, by a fire experiment conducted in Pionki in August 2020. It shows that modern wooden structures have even higher fire resistance than other materials that increase their volume with temperature changes. Structural timber used for construction is extremely durable, and when subjected to appropriate mechanical and chemical treatment, it not only gains good fire resistance but also resists ageing for a long time – says Andrzej Schleser, Member of the Management Board of Polskie Domów Drewnianych S.A.
Durability and ecology of wooden construction
The environment benefits from using wood in construction. According to the European Forest Institute, taking into account the entire life cycle of the building, concrete construction is responsible for the consumption of 42% of total energy, 35% of greenhouse gas emissions and 30% of water consumption. And experts from Bangor University in Wales have studied that one multi-storey wooden structure means over a thousand tonnes less CO2 in the atmosphere. Less water is also used to build a wooden house. However, the technology used is key. Prefabrication, which guarantees the right level of precision and the highest quality thanks to the repetition of activities carried out in the factory. This also applies to fire resistance.
– Our company has been active on the Scandinavian market for many years. In Sweden and Norway, modular timber frame construction means combining the best features of traditional timber construction with modern solutions of prefabrication, design and production, which allows to achieve the highest quality and precision unparalleled outside the factory. There, however, no one needs to be convinced of this construction, in Poland it is a bit different. However, we hope that by transferring our best experiences from Scandinavia to other projects on the Polish market, we will convince our clients that wooden modules are durable, quick to build, comprehensive and ecological,” says Roman Jakubowski, Sales Director and Member of the Management Board of Unihouse S.A.
Same security, different insurance prices
Insurance of a wooden building costs more. A comparative analysis of available policies shows that clients will pay even 75% more for insurance of a wooden building than for a concrete one. The differences range from 75% to about 14% to the disadvantage of a wooden building, although there are also insurers who apply the same rate for both types of buildings.
– Insurance companies are careful when estimating the risk. In most cases, they price insurance of a wooden house higher than that of a concrete one. However, according to the latest data, wooden buildings are as safe as concrete ones. It seems therefore necessary to create a new category of insurance, which would cover modern wooden construction. For now, it is a small part of the construction market, only about 1%, but given the potential of this segment and its development in the world, this percentage will grow. Our goal is to increase the share of wooden construction in Poland to even 20% in 2040″, summarizes Andrzej Schleser.