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TV shows 'wrecking' timber home sector; FURY AS FIRM UNVEILS OWN LOW-COST DESIGN.

Byline: ANDREW FORGRAVE

PROPERTY lifestyle TV shows such as Grand Designs are undermining Welsh forestry by portraying timber-framed housing as luxury options, a businessman has claimed.

Timberyard boss Adrian Farey believes locally built wood-framed homes are affordable, sustainable and would rejuvenate Welsh forestry.

To prove the point, he is building a rival design to the Ty Unnos timberframed housing concept advocated by Coed Cymru, the woodland management charity.

He said his "Ty Elwy" prototype is cheaper and more sustainable than its rival - and he already has a pounds 150,000 order to build a farmhouse near Llannefydd, subject to planning.

Mr Farey, of Moelfre, said it was a misconception that hand-built timberframed homes were a luxury.

"This myth has been perpetuated by television lifestyle programmes showing elaborate frame designs for the dream homes of the well-heeled," he said.

The Ty Elwy concept was brought to fruition by Mr Farey while working with the Elwy Working Woods Co-operative, Abergele.

Unlike Ty Unnos, which involves pre-fab factory-built, kiln-dried modules, Ty Elwy designs would be built on site, using green soft wood and traditional carpentry skills.

They would be rendered with lime mortar, finished with wood cladding and insulated with sheep's wool.

Mr Farey said: "Modern homes use materials with high embedded energy values, such as concrete, plastics and glues which have been shipped in from around the world.

"Timber-framed homes would not need to sit on a huge concrete platform. They have far lower carbon footprints and are far more comfortable to live in than your standard brieze block two-up two-down terraces.

"And they're much cheaper too." Ty Elwy Working Woods Co-operative was established two years ago with half-a-dozen members.

After buying an alpine tractor and 1.8-tonne forwarder, members began making furniture and gates while hatching plans for Ty Elwy.

Woodknowledge Wales provided a pounds 5,000 grant to develop the concept. A prototype, complete with roofing, rendering and cladding, should be ready before Christmas.

According to Mr Farey, the Ty Elwy project has now been divorced from the co-operative project and is being run by his own firm, Elwy Wood. Members will continue supplying materials, along with other small woodland owners and groups in North Wales.

In contrast to traditional timberframed buildings, the structures will use seasoned soft wood.

"They're simply isn't enough oak in the this country," he said.

Ultimately, he hopes the concept will be rolled out across Wales, with a vision of creating skilled rural workforces or even self-build groups.

Dr Dennis Jones, of Woodknowledge Wales, backed the idea. "There is a common misconception that handcrafted timber is at the luxury end of the market," he said.

"But the truth is that simple frames constructed using local softwoods can make traditional timber frame both aesthetically and financially attractive."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 18, 2010
Words:461
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