Avantage claims timber record with Cheshire PFI

Contractor GB Building Solutions is using 1,700 cubic metres of timber frame for Avantage's Beechmere extra-care PFI development in Crewe, the largest timber content of any currently on site in Europe, the firm says.

Preston-based Prestoplan provided the timber frame for the building as a design package for the 132-bedroom development. The timber is softwood, a mix of European redwood and whitewood.

Ian Perry, chairman of Avantage, said: "We didn't set out to break any records here, but merely construct a building while working to the budget and using the most environmentally friendly products we could. Timber frames are a carbon-neutral material even allowing for transport with the lowest CO2 cost of any commercially available building material. When used in conjunction with insulation, the timber frame not only provides excellent U-values, but works as a quicker and 'cleaner' way of building. For instance, the timber is less affected by the weather, which has meant that building work has been able to continue even when the heavens were opening.

"We'll certainly be considering using a timber frame on projects in the future; not only does it make internal features easier to install and it is also easy to erect. The timber frame has helped construction to stay right on schedule, which will allow us to deliver the PFI contract to Cheshire County Council as agreed."

Avantage is the consortium chosen by Cheshire County Council to design, build and operate five extra-care housing developments across the county for people over 60-years-old. Avantage comprises Harvest Housing Group, MJ Gleeson Group and Nationwide Building Society.

Avantage is building and will manage four other extra-care developments across Cheshire in Handforth, Middlewich, Winsford and Ellesmere Port. Handforth will be the first to open in January 2009 and Crewe will be the final development to complete in August 2009.

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