Turnover goes through the roof at Sunderland timber company

Steve Harris of Fencehouse Truss and Coun Harry Trueman, Sunderland City Council.
Steve Harris of Fencehouse Truss and Coun Harry Trueman, Sunderland City Council.

A Wearside timber products firm is on course for a 30 per cent turnover rise as it helps major UK developers tackle the housing shortage.

Fencehouse Truss Company supplies roof trusses, timber frames and other timber construction products across the country from its Houghton base.

Timber frame houses are a really high growth area for us at the moment.

Steven Harris

Twelve months ago, the company invested in a specialist piece of equipment – known as a butterfly table - to enable the production of entire timber frame homes on-site; and demand has surged for such products since.

Against a national housing shortage, and growing pressure on construction firms to reduce their environmental impact, timber frame housing is becoming increasingly popular in the UK.

Timber frame homes are usually made in controlled conditions indoors, meaning no delays due to high winds or rain and a turnaround time of a matter of days.

This rapid production – and the fact it does not require tradespeople currently in short supply such as bricklayers – makes it an attractive proposition to developers working to plug the national housing gap.

Fencehouse is supplying timber products to a number of major developers, including Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon Homes and Esh Group.

Timber frame homes are less labour intensive to produce than traditionally-built brick properties and can be positioned by semi-skilled tradespeople or experienced self-builders.

They are also more sustainable and heat and energy efficient – and generate less construction material waste. They also offer various cost advantages, including savings on skips and scaffolding.

Fencehouse was founded in 2008 when friends Steven Harris, a sales person, and Steve Brown, who worked in construction, decided to combine their respective expertise.

They invested in a patch of land, built a factory from scratch and looked to improve on roof truss products available elsewhere in the market.

Despite launching in the depths of recession, the company quickly established itself and has steadily grown since, with a team of 30 now on board and a national roster of customers.

“Timber frame houses are a really high growth area for us at the moment,” said Steven.

“Off-site construction is increasingly in demand – as it’s faster and also because there are huge labour shortages on-site.”