Review 2019-2020

Mass Timber Forum for Commercial Offices
© Felix Mooneeram

In 2020 during the height of the first lockdown, G&T launched a new series that brought together experts from across industries to discuss and debate the barriers of using mass timber in office construction.


Originally intended to be live debates staged at G&T HQ, the programme was adapted into a series of webinars hosted online by partner Matt Holman and G&T timber expert Oliver Booth. They assembled panels of leading authorities in their respective disciplines to help share knowledge and information about building successfully with mass timber for commercial office projects.

In an introductory forum to kick off the series our audience voted the issue of ‘insurance’ as the number one barrier to market for mass timber office buildings. That set the topic for the first webinar.

As mass timber is being used increasingly in construction it has generated a debate in the insurance industry on how timber buildings should be evaluated for insurance purposes against the differing risks profiles of concrete and steel structural frames. While there is no denying that there is a risk when it comes to fire, the discussion revealed an assumption among insurers that once the material is compromised, a lot of the building will be damaged and potentially require significant repairs. The construction and timber experts on our panel were able to explain why this is not necessarily the case.

It’s about early contractor involvement, choosing your contractors wisely and making sure they’ve got the relevant experience of working with mass timber


Andy Desmond
Senior Vice President at Marsh

There are many risk factors insurers have to consider when underwriting a mass timber construction. Whilst some of these risks are similar to other types of construction risk, others stem from the lack of technical knowledge when using timber as a building material. Mass timber does not fit easily into the long-established construction classes and comparatively little statistical data exists to help insurers when underwriting mass timber buildings.

To reduce the impact that insurance can have on the viability of mass timber construction in the commercial sector we need to Quantify, Educate and Differentiate.


Dominic Lion
Associate Director at Gallaghers

The session discussed and debated these topics amongst many others including the risks associated when building with mass timber and the insurance industry’s stance on these risks, the price implications of securing insurance for mass timber office buildings and how structural decisions can affect the insurance options in mass timber office construction.

To find out more about using mass timber in your project and to access the full report please contact:

Matt Holman - m.holman@gardiner.com

Oliver Booth - o.booth@gardiner.com

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