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What are the barriers to implementing multi-storey prefabricated mass engineered timber systems in Ireland? 

Declan McCarthy

Test Methods:
Interview & Survey Process
Technical investigation of a Case Study building by constructing a Building Information Model

For copy of full dissertation, contact:

Jim Roche 
David Knight

This study consists of an in depth investigation into the barriers preventing multi-storey prefabricated MET systems within Ireland alongside analysing how the fire regulatory concerns can be overcome.

A critical examination of past research, as well as interviews and surveys with AEC industry professionals, were conducted as part of this investigation. Architects and Engineers, Quantity Surveyors, Fire Engineers and Consultants all in Ireland and Architects and Engineers in the United Kingdom were the four primary groups represented in the interviews and surveys. The case study building is a five-story residential complex in North Dublin that was completed in 2021. Concrete columns, concrete lift cores, and post-tensioned concrete slabs make up the primary structure. To demonstrate how fire regulation problems could be addressed within the building, the original concrete primary structure was replaced with a prefabricated MET primary structure.

Prefabricated MET systems consist of two main products CLT and Glulam. CLT is a solid MET panel that consists of layers of structural wood glued together at 90 degrees¹. Glulam is very similar with the only difference being the layers are glued in the same direction. Prefabricated MET systems have become more widespread in recent years due to their positive environmental impacts. However, prefabricated MET systems have yet to take a foothold in Ireland.

Results gathered through the interview and survey process suggest that part B of the Irish Technical Guidance Documents (TGD) is too restrictive. Common themes identified through both the interview and survey process also suggest a lack of knowledge and awareness within Ireland's construction industry on these systems alongside a lack of qualified and trained professionals to work with this construction system. Cost was also deemed to be a significant barrier to the implementation of these systems, with the primary barrier being part B of the Irish Technical Guidance Documents (TGD), regarding fire. it was demonstrated through the case study building that the fire regulatory concerns can be overcome by introducing extra measures in response to this construction method.

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