Timber Construction in Recovery – A Technical Handbook

Timber Construction in Recovery: A Technical Handbook


Timber is frequently used as a material in shelter recovery and for the construction of schools, clinics and other public buildings. These buildings often need to be designed to withstand earthquake and high wind loads, and to avoid fungal and insect damage.  There are a number of other related challenges such as cladding, foundation design, logistics, and available skills.

There is a huge amount of information in this subject area but it is evident that the design and construction of timber buildings remains a challenge for organisations involved in reconstruction after disasters.  This is likely due to the lack of institutional memory and that there is limited specialism of timber design within the engineering and architectural professions.


The proposal is to produce a Technical Handbook that provides information and resources for: construction methods, detailing, designs, logistics, budgets, programming, and skill training.  That the Handbook will have supporting resources such as spreadsheets, video, CAD files, editable training materials.

The intention is that the Technical Handbook be used for the implementation of timber construction programmes and that it is a tool for practitioners.  This is to enable those involved with timber construction in recovery to arrive at robust and appropriate designs, and have the tools to assist with project and programme management for efficient and timely implementation.


The project is to be in three phases which allows for drafting, testing, and review.  The final document will be an A4 sized manual with a DVD / Website for other media resources.


1.    Technical Manual – First Draft

1.1. Timber overview – including species, processing, quality

1.2. Timber Frame Construction design – Design principles and examples

1.3. Open Panel Timber Frame Construction (sheathed) design – Design principles and examples

1.4. “On-site” construction – Construction methods

1.5. “Off-site” construction – Manufacturing processes and construction methods

1.6. Cladding options

1.7. Foundation options

1.8. Extension and Adaptation

1.9. Logistics – Producing measures and quantities, procurement, storage and transport

1.10.             Programme Management – Scheduling, staffing, physical resources, budgets, monitoring and evaluation

1.11.             Training – Training for staff, communities, and artisans


2.    Field Tests

2.1. To construct shelters, using the handbook, in locations prone to disaster where timber construction is prevalent, such as the Caribbean, South America, and Asia / Pacific using the handbook.

2.2. Feedback from the design and construction process

2.3. Structural analysis

2.4. Cost analysis

2.5. Review of management and organisation


3.    Technical Manual – Final Draft

3.1. Review after testing and consultation

3.2. Produce final draft

3.3. Produce DVD

3.4. Produce Website



It is proposed for the manual to be produced over a period of two years, including the period for construction and testing.  That the first draft is produced by May 2013