Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  04 Oct 2009

CONSTRUCTION: Training Facility For Timber Frame


Recent Western Cape Business News

A major milestone for South Africa’s timber construction industry will be reached on October 7, 2009, with the launch of the Timber Frame Builders Association’s (TFBA) first training facility at Boland College in Paarl in the Western Cape.

Through the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) approved training programmes that will be offered, the TFBA aims to promote a uniform level of timber construction knowledge throughout the country, and to build a national pool of properly qualified timber frame contractors whose quality of workmanship will conform to the standards required by the Code of Practice for Timber Buildings in the National Building Regulations.

"The timber frame construction system, which is rapidly gaining ground in South Africa, is vastly different from the traditional brick-and-mortar method, hence the need for proper training in this specialist field," says Leon Bekker, the national president of the TFBA, the representative body for the industry in South Africa. "The hands-on training to be provided will enable timber frame builders and the industry workforce to construct structurally sound, comfortable and safe structures, carrying forward the TFBA’s unblemished construction track record of nearly three decades."

The organisation’s quest to establish its own training facility began more than 15 years, when it became apparent to its members that the growth of the industry in this country would depend on the quality and availability of the workforce. “Despite our best efforts, we have, until now, had little success in establishing a training school because of a lack of funds,” says Bekker. “Within the past three or four months our plans have all fallen into place with the assistance of our co-sponsors, Builders Trade Depot and the Institute of Timber Construction, which have made this milestone a reality at last.”

Occupying an area of more than 4 000 m², the new training facility consists of two buildings: the main one comprising offices, a reception area and a 60m² lecture room that can comfortably seat up to 30 trainees. The second consists only of a skeleton structure that is roofed over. “This is the hands-on training building where up to 12 students at a time will be taught to sheath, clad, line and joint, or skim the wall surfaces,” says Bekker. “The rest of the area has been set up to teach wall panel manufacturing and erecting, roof erecting and timber roof construction.”

The curriculum, which will include both practical and theoretical components, is outcomes-based and will initially consist of seven modules covering all aspects of timber frame construction. Subjects will range from health and safety, reading and interpreting drawings; setting out (the industry term used for the process of setting out a building on a site); excavating; casting concrete strip foundation walling and casting concrete slab, to building the timber frame walls; erecting ceilings, timber frame partitions and roof trusses; and cladding roof structures.

The training courses, which will be aimed both at those wanting to enter the field of timber frame construction and apprentices already employed in the industry, will vary in length from five to 30 days. Each trainee who successfully completes a course will receive an industry-recognised, SAQA-accredited certificate. The TFBA hopes also to introduce a learnership programme once the initial courses are underway.

The organisation has contracted with a training service provider to do the training, and the latter has put together the curriculum and training materials under the guidance of the TFBA. The training will be provided by SAQA-qualified instructors and assessors, all of whom are specialists in their specific fields and highly competent instructors who have also been actively involved in the timber construction industry for many years.

The establishment of the training school has received great support from TFBA members, and also from major banks, the insurance industry and the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC), which recognise that properly accredited contractors who can provide safe, high quality buildings will effectively reduce their risk factor, says Bekker.

Representatives of many of these organisations will attend the Paarl launch, where Roly Adams of the Institute of Timber Construction, the inspectorate for trusses and roofing, will be one of the speakers.


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