TFT Woodexperts Blog
We’ve not quite been asked to look into anything that could qualify as a new storyline for ‘Midsomer Murders’, but our Expert Witness services are certainly called upon to investigate some odd cases! For reasons of client confidentiality, we can’t cite the precise details of individual cases, but we do get involved from time to time in criminal activities – so to speak. We’ve been asked to check a “battered down” door to see if hammer marks matched a “seized” hammer; and we’ve been asked to match up the remains of a hollowed-out pallet that was used for drug-smuggling, with others that were intercepted by customs officers whilst en route to the UK. But most of our work is in Civil cases, where the quality of design, materials and/or workmanship may be in dispute.
Certain types of enquiry tend to come up time and again, illustrating the great lack of wood science & technology understanding in many areas of construction. Where our Expert Witness and Investigation services are called upon, it’s generally because wood science and has not been properly applied in a project, thus damaging the reputation of wood and that of the designer, the wood supplier, or the installer. From extensions to new-builds the story is the same: insufficient knowledge or understanding of how wood reacts in given situations so often results in a claim or a lawsuit.
The grading of timber – or rather, the lack of it - is one of the more prevalent problems we are called in to assess. Different timber species have different grading rules, for good reasons, primarily relating either to appearance quality, or to structural safety in use. Those who specify or order construction timbers should at least understand the significance of these grades when considering which timber to be used, or when installing timber on site. At Woodexperts, we teach many companies’ staff about timber grades, relevant to their area of the construction supply chain. Yet more needs to be done in colleges – even perhaps in schools – to improve the wider public’s grasp of timber’s equivalent of ‘horses for courses’.
With timber frame homes gaining increasing popularity in today’s building sector –due in part to ‘Grand Designs’ style projects seen on TV - and rising use of off-site manufacturing of housing, a good knowledge of what can and can’t be expected in terms of timber’s structural performance is absolutely vital. The lack of understanding of the various in-use properties of different timber species, and the requirements for optimum performance, will certainly keep us busy at Woodexperts for many years to come.
So, if you’re trying to track down the cause of a wood-related problem, it pays to ask an expert with a proven track record but, more importantly, an expert with Wood Science qualifications to back it up.
26 November 2017