How fast can you grow a house?

We did the calculation to find out how fast Australia can grow a house.

We were recently asked, “how long it would take for Australia’s plantation estate to produce enough structural timber for building an average house frame?”

This question aligns perfectly with the recent report on timber usage in residential construction just released by Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA).

How much structural timber is in an average house frame?

The aim of this report was to develop meaningful data by analysing a sample pool of nearly 20,000 residential building plans from the 2017–18 period in New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria.

The report found that the weighted average amount of structural timber required for constructing an Australian house frame is approximately 14 cubic meters.

How long does it take to grow an average timber house frame?

FWPA undertook a survey to gather additional data from a wide range of Australian softwood forest growers to accurately calculate how long it would take to grow that amount of timber.

This survey collected and aggregated responses to quantify Australia’s:

  • Estate average growth rates (cubic metres per hectare, per year, or Mean Annual Increment – MAI),
  • total stocked area in hectares,
  • percentage of standing log volume suitable for structural sawn timber processing (sawlogs)
  • percentage of mill recovery of structural timber from structural sawlogs.

While the survey respondents represented over 75 percent of Australia’s softwood estate, the aggregated data was extrapolated to cover the actual total area of softwood plantations, accounting for regions affected by recent bushfire events.

The results revealed that:

  • The area-weighted MAI was 20 cubic metres per hectare, per year.
  • Of approximately 900,000 hectares, around 19 per cent of standing volume is processed into structural timber at end of rotation. 

FWPA calculated the time required for Australia’s plantations to grow enough structural timber for the average house frame, and the answer we arrived at is approximately 140 seconds.

When using timber, the average Australian house frame can be ‘grown’ in about two-and-a-half minutes.

In the time it has taken you to read this article, one more house frame has grown across Australia’s plantation farming estate.

This is something the industry should be immensely proud of.

To find out more interesting forest facts visit our FAQ’s page or download one of our resources.

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