Summary of Korean Housing Start

Due to declining construction investment amid the ongoing government intervention to curb rising house prices and cool down the overheated housing market, South Korea’s housing starts for 2018 decreased 16% to 81,300 buildings and decreased 13.5% to 470,706 units.

Housing permits in a number of buildings and units for 2018 also decreased by 15.3% and 15.2% respectively from a year earlier.

In 2018, the number of wood building starts and permits decreased by 15.1% and 26% respectively. This was due to the overall slowdown of the housing market together with the more stringent requirements for seismic design on small scale buildings and soundproof floor requirement in Dagagu house.

Reflecting the market response to the government’s real estate regulations, the home purchase sentiment has dwindled to the lowest level in nearly six years. The Seoul’s Weekly Apartment Supply-demand Index stood at 73.2 as of Feb. 11.

Measured on a scale of 0 to200, with 100 indicating neutral status, the index refers to the ratio of apartments available for transactions

Summary of Korean Lumber Shipments

BC softwood lumber export volume to South Korea in 2018 decreased by 18.5% to 205,228 cubic metres as compared to 251,992 cubic metres in 2017.

Several reasons contribute to this downward trajectory. First, BC Coastal shipments continue to decrease in the second quarter of 2018. Secondly, the South Korea government’s strong intervention policies to decrease new housing supply with the intention to curb the rising household debts and housing price has resulted in decreasing new housing stats.

Export value for 2018 slightly decreased by 1.5% to CAD$71,969 million as compared to CAD$73.096 million in 2017 mainly due to the upward Canadian lumber prices.

A 3-Storey Multiple-Dwelling Wood In-fill Wall Demo House, Completed through Canada Wood’s Technical Support

The construction of a three-storey multiple-dwelling wood in-fill wall demo house, which was carried out through the technical support from Canada Wood Korea, was completed in March 2019. Before the Korean Acoustical Code regulations on floors between multi-storey housing units was strengthened, approximately more than 800 multiple-dwelling houses (so-called as Dagagu housing) were constructed with light-weight wood frame each year. However, since the acoustical code only approved standard concrete floor, it has been difficult to get building permits for Dagagu housing buildings designed with wood floors.

A multiple-dwelling house is a house with three stories in total and the sum of floor areas (gross floor area) is less than 660 m2. It was introduced in the 1990s by the government to ease the housing shortage. It is designed to accommodate many households. Each unit has rooms, kitchen, and bathroom so that each household can live independently. According to the statistics from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, a total of 14,620 multiple-dwelling houses were built last year, and the gross floor area was 4,371,000m². The gross floor area was similar to that of the approximately 50,000 detached houses that were completed last year.

This three-storey multiple-dwelling demo house was constructed in a hybrid method which combines a reinforced concrete structure and light-weight wood frame. The main structural components include columns on the 1st and 2nd floors and three storey floors built with reinforced concrete in order to satisfy the revised acoustical code requirements. The rest are non-bearing exterior and interior walls on the 1st and 2nd floors and the 3rd-floor structure and roof were constructed with light-weight wood frame. Mr. Seung Hee Kang, CEO Architect of Studio NOVA who designed the demo house said, “This method of applying wood infill walls to multiple-dwelling houses will balance the low-quality multiple-dwelling houses currently being built with concrete in Korea. It will contribute to the development of a healthy housing culture which is one of the main advantages of wood frame buildings.”, This will increase the possibility of applying wood in-fill wall systems in the Korean construction market.

With the knowledge accumulated through this multiple-dwelling wood infill wall demo house project, Studio NOVA is currently developing a design for another multiple-dwelling house in Incheon by applying the wood infill wall systems. This project will start its construction from June 2019 and the completion is due December this year. Canada Wood Korea will be providing continuous technical support to make it a high-quality wood infill wall project.

The 20th Architect-Inspector Training Begins

The 20th KWCA-WUC Architect-Inspector Training sponsored by Canada Wood Korea began on April 6. This training is an annual session targeted at professionals including builders, architects and structural engineers to prepare them with the knowledge required for wood construction inspections. This year’s training is scheduled from April 6 to August 10.

Over the past 20 years, the inspector training was attended by primary builders. However, we’ve seen a growing number of architects sign up for this training in recent years and twenty-one of thirty-two participants in this year’s training are either architects or structural engineers. Since the inspection is a field for architects, the gradual increase of architects in the training is a positive change. As the demand for wood construction picks up, the demand from architects to learn wood design in a more systematic manner is growing as well.

There are increasing cases of architects gaining popularity in Korea mainly for designing WFC and receiving various architectural awards with their WFC designs after completing this training. For instance, 2018 Korea Wood Design Awards Grand Prize went to ‘Seo Hyang Gak’, a project submitted by the Architect Gye-Yeon Won who completed the Architect-Inspector Training Course provided by Canada Wood.

The First 3 Houses Certified Under the Combined 5-Star and Korea Super-E® Program

For the first time, the certification of the 5-Star Construction Quality and Korea Super-E® program were combined and three houses received the certifications for their superior construction quality and energy efficiency performance.

The combined certification program was implemented in 2018 when the Korean Wood Construction Association (KWCA) increased its capacity and became the Service Organization for Korea Super-E® Program. KWCA’s member companies have actively participated in various training programs in both Korea and Canada, delivered in collaboration with the Super-E® Office/Energy Efficient Exporters Alliance (EEEA). Before the implementation of the Combined Certification Program, homes were certified under either Korea Super-E® Program or 5-Star respectively.

The three houses located in Seoul, Wanju in Jeonbuk Province, and Jeju Island, represent three of the four climate zones in South Korea. The houses achieved very high thermal performance by incorporating best practices and latest technologies. The average airtightness of the 3 Super-E® Certified Houses was 0.68 ACH at 50 Pa. The house in Jeju Island, designed and built by JD Homeplan, recorded a remarkable 0.3 ACH.

Did you know:
Super E® is a housing standard developed by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) that builds on the highly successful R-2000 and Advanced Housing Programs. It utilizes state of the art construction techniques that promote energy conservation, environmentally responsible construction and healthy housing. All Super E® homes have passed a series of stringent tests including computerized energy consumption simulations, air leakage tests, and ventilation flow and balancing, which are all verified by an approved independent third party.

Last year, the Tianjin Sino-Canada eco-district project in China built 100 townhomes to the Super E® standards and is the first large-scale deployment of its kind.

Gallery of Sino-Canada Eco-district project can be viewed from the below link: