Largest Transaction in History for Detached Single Family House

While most people in Korea live in apartments, transactions of detached single family houses have increased every year since the 2010’s.
According to house transactions by housing type surveyed by the Korea Appraisal Board, transactions of detached single family houses in the past five years increased by 47%. In particular, the transaction volume last year was the largest in history since statistics were taken and the upward tendency is expected to continue this year as the transaction volume in April is higher than that for the same period of last year.
Transactions of detached single family houses led to the increase of housing prices. Analysis of the sale price index by the Korea Appraisal Board shows that the apartment sale price index across Korea went down by 0.20% but that of detached single family house rose by 0.60%.
As for the reasons that detached single family houses are gaining popularity, experts point out scarcity and rise of land price. The scarcity value of detached single family houses can only increase as it is difficult to find land and carry out a project in it in the heart of the city. Furthermore, there are a number of old houses in the downtown area that do not attract buyers while detached single family houses allow its dwellers to enjoy a nature-friendly living environment as well as urban infrastructure. In addition, detached single family houses offer greater land portions than apartments and the high and increasing land price also becomes another popularity factor that increases the investment value.
With transactions of detached single family houses increasing, the market for wood framed houses consistently expanded since 2006 when Canada Wood Korea was established. Also, the quality and awareness of wood frame construction have changed greatly and positively through technical seminars. Scarcity, one of the reasons detached single family houses are popular, is also one of the strengths of wood framed house, which is already in the spotlight as the most suitable material for low-energy house as a future-oriented house.


Super-E® Training in Canada Builds the Competence in Design and Construction of High Performance Wood Frame Houses in Korea

The Advanced Technology Construction Training (ATCT) in its 14th year was held in Chilliwack, BC, Canada, from July 3 to 13, 2018 for 18 participants from Korea – 5 designers and architects, 10 builders and contractors, 1 building product distributor, 1 vocational training instructor for wood frame construction and 1 architecture student. 8 of them are engaged in multiple businesses listed above and house developer –  enrolled this year’s program.
The 10-day training program consisted of lectures, construction of mock-ups for putting the theories learned into practice and visits to various types of wood frame building construction site and mass timber buildings during the days and a lot of networking among the participants over BC wines. And all of them have not only completed the course but also successfully passed the Super-E® Designate Qualification Test.
The Super-E® Training focuses on teaching the principles for designing and building high energy efficiency, improving indoor air quality and comfort, durability and environmental responsibility represented by the Super-E® Standards and Super-E® Net-Zero Standards and building science has been organized and delivered by joint efforts and expertise of the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV), Super-E® Office/Energy Efficiency Exporters Alliance (EEEA) and Canada Wood since 2015.

Strengthened Seismic Design Requirement: Is it Challenge or Opportunity?

Seismic design requirements were introduced for the first time in Korea in 1988 for buildings 6 storeys and higher or total floor area 100,000m2 and larger. The latest major revision was made in 2005 requiring building structures 3 storeys and higher or total floor area 1,000 m2 to be seismically designed for safety and in 2015, a minor change was made to restrict the total floor area to 500 m2.

Korea has long been regarded as a safe country from earthquakes. However, a record-breaking 5.8-magnitude earthquake took place in September, 2016 in Gyeongju and over four hundred smaller aftershocks have triggered public concern and MLIT promulgated a strengthened seismic code in February, 2017 to bolster seismic design in all new buildings 2 storeys or higher and larger than 500 m2 from the former 3 storeys or higher.
After the 5.4-manganite earthquake happened in November, 2017 in Pohang, MLIT further strengthened the seismic design requirement to larger than 200 m2 and to all newly built houses (all newly constructed single detached homes and apartments) regardless of the total floor area and enforced this requirement in December, 2017.

As the seismic design code being strengthened and people’s fury on earthquakes increased, there are more opportunities for wood frame construction in Korean construction market as it has been experienced in Japan.
However, given the lack of trained architects and structural engineers, providing seismic design for individual wood frame buildings would is challenging. In the short term, this new regulation is impacting the WFC market considerably since there is no building code guidance available for small timber construction as opposed to concrete, brick and steel which are more conventional structural systems in Korea and already included in MLIT’s Small Scaled Construction Structural Code (SSCSC) for up to 2 storey buildings.

Current efforts to create a prescriptive code, thereby allowing design without structural calculation by licensed structural engineer, should diminish the risk of a loss of market share due to a lack of design capacity and design guide.
In parallel with prescriptive seismic design code development, Canada Wood Korea is providing a series of workshops on seismic design for wood frame construction in a response to the revisions related to the increased interest in seismic design.

Lumber Shipments

BC softwood lumber export volume to South Korea for the first five months of 2018 decreased 20.3% to 99,261 cubic meters as compared to 124,495 cubic meters for the same period of 2017.
This significant decrease comes from  continuously weakened BC Coastal shipments in the second quarter of 2018 and decreased housing starts in the South Korean residential construction segment forced by the South Korean government’s strong intervention to limit the supply of new homes from August 2016 to check rise in household debts and curb rising house prices.
Export value for the same period decreased 3.3% to CAD$34.209 million as compared to CAD$35.367 million for the same period in 2017. Lumber prices in Canada has trended upward while prices for lumber prices in the Nordic countries continue to be depressed in the U.S. dollar terms.

Housing Construction

Due to the ongoing government intervention to curb rising house prices and cool down the overheated housing market, South Korea’s housing starts in number of buildings for the first five months of 2018 decreased 15.5% to 35,591 buildings while that in number of units increased 17% to 197,475 units showing a market demand trend toward smaller size of apartment. Housing permits in number of buildings and units for the same period of 2018 also decreased 16.7% and 13.8% respectively to 41,436 buildings and 205,227 units from a year earlier 49,724 buildings and 238,179 units.

Due to the current difficulty in getting building permits for wood structures caused by enhanced requirements for seismic design for small scaled buildings and sound floor for Dagagu housing in coupled with the overall housing market decrease, the number of wood building starts and permits for the first five months of 2018 decreased 12.7% to 5,127 buildings and 23.4% to 5,451 buildings respectively while those for total floor areas decreased 14.6% to 469,185 m2 and 22.9% to 512,483 m2 respectively from the same period of 2017.