Tokushima Newspaper organized and sponsored a local housing fair that was held on September 15th and 16th in Tokushima city, which is the capital city of Tokushima Prefecture on Shikoku island. If you are not aware, Shikoku island is a rural region in Japan, where people tend to build homes there using the traditional post and beam construction method and not at all versed in 2×4. Thus, COFI was asked by the Two-by-Four Home Builders Association’s Shikoku branch to promote 2×4 housing at the event. To accomplish this, two leading members of the branch, Ikawa Architecture & Life Planning and Dairi Lumber arranged with the event’s organizer to receive two 40-minute seminar slots at the event to talk about the positive attributes of 2×4 homes and COFI arranged for a veteran first class architect, Mr. Toshiyuki Yoshizawa of Sumakura Design, with over 40 years of experience in designing and build 2×4 homes in Japan to travel from Tokyo to speak at the event. The event was well attended with young families and couples interested in or looking at buying a home and approximately 20 persons joined the 2×4 end user seminar each day. At the fair, Ikawa Architecture & Life Planning, which had a booth at the event, proudly showed episodes of COFI’s Three Little Pigs 2×4 amination series and also distributed the promotional pamphlet based on the series.
Wooden non-residential countered weakness in housing and posted solid gains in July. Although the total number of non-residential wooden buildings declined from 1,722 in June to 1,693 in July, total wooden floor area increased 8.8% to 351,441m2. While the gains were broad based including medical, elderly care and public facilities, agricultural buildings led the increase with floor area almost tripling from 22,285m2 in June to 63,116m2 in July. Year to date cumulative wooden floor area topped 2 million m2, generating an estimated wood demand of over 350,000m3.
In July total housing starts edged down 0.7% to 82,615 units. Owner occupied housing was up slightly with a 0.3% increase compared to a 1.4% decrease in rental housing. Total wooden housing declined 1.6% to 46,932 starts. Post and beam housing fell 0.7% to 36,054 units. For the first time in many months prefab wood housing increased 3.7% to 1,111 units. Platform frame housing fell 5.1% to 9,767 units. The decline in multi-family apartments drove the results for 2×4 lower. By housing type, platform starts fared as follows: custom order homes increased 3.3% to 3,024 units, rentals fell 9.3% to 5,627 units and built for sale spec homes dropped 2.3% to 1,112 units.
COFI’s new promotion initiative to promote 2×4 single-family housing to end users continues to grow. Since finalizing and posting four 2×4 animations based on the story of the “Three Little Pigs”, we have chalked up over 350,000 accumulative views on COFI Japan’s YouTube channel, since launching this animation sereis two years ago. To keep the momentum going, we recently produced and uploaded a new animation video clip for the series on the environmental benefits of building and owning a 2×4 house in Japan (Episode #5) as below.
Under the current Japanese building code (Building Standard Law: BSL), fire resistive structures are required in all midrise buildings (exceeding 16 m in height or 4 storeys or more). The common method of making wooden structures fire resistive is to clad them with gypsum board. However, there have been discontent to this requirement among designers claiming that the occupants cannot visually appreciate wooden materials in such structures. To address this issue and encourage further wood use, MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism) recently announced that they are amending the BSL so that quasi fire resistive structures can be used in midrise buildings. Quasi fire resistive structures are achievable by char margin design (sacrificial layer approach) for large wooden members that are visible. With this amendment, it is anticipated that building occupants will be able to see exposed wooden structural members are used in such midrise buildings – leading to proper promoting opportunities for wooden building products sector.