Mastering Moisture Control – The Key to Success

Image Credit: TDA

A feature of mass timber is the ability to utilise the exposed structural timber as the decorative surface. This feature saves the need for additional covers, making mass timber competitive. However, the issue is keeping the exposed structural timber looking great during the building process.

The main culprit here is water. Excessive moisture promotes mould or simply stains the finished surface. Therefore, managing the water during construction is the key to a successful outcome.

The first issue to help solve this is to have all involved in the design and construction of the mass timber building understand that moisture management is part of the plan. This concept also involves the client, who needs to understand there will be an expense to manage the moisture. In the long term, this expense will be less than any remedial action that may be required.

The other aspect is that all on the construction site need to own the moisture management plan. This simply is put, don’t allow water to pond on the structure. Therefore, immediate action to sweep the water away is required when it rains, and yes, it always rains on a mass timber building construction site.

To prevent this water from damaging the lower surface, all joints in the floor or column penetrating through the floor need sealing. This is commonly done with vapour-permeable tape. Care is also required to check that the tape has not been damaged during the course of construction. If it does get damaged, it needs to be repaired. Again, it becomes a practice on the construction site to provide a budget and have someone check.

Where greater protection of the finished surface is required, or there is an extended break in the construction program, consideration should be given to placing a vapour-permeable membrane across the entire floor.

Consideration is then required to expel the water when the water ponds, requiring the ponding water to be swept away. A standard solution is to utilise the service holes in the floor and create a floor drain using tape or a puddle flange. But simply transferring the water to the next floor without dealing with it is not the solution. The water needs to be collected and diverted away, generally to a lift shaft or service core. Below are images of a simple collection point and garden hose disposal system.

Simple water collection system employed on an 11-storey mass timber building in Malmo, Sweden.
Image Credit: TDA

Finally, consideration should also be given to interfaces between elements, particularly diagonal elements. In this instance, the diagonal directs water into the joint. In this case, a caulking compound is used to prevent moisture from entering the joint.

This subject will be presented in detail at the Timber Off-Site Construction conference and exhibition.

Sealing of the joint. Image credit: TDA

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Hanan Jamal

Project Manager, Sarah Constructions

Hanan Jamal is a Project Manager at Sarah Constructions with over 10 years of experience in the construction industry. She has successfully delivered a variety of high-profile projects, including the $200 million South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), renowned for its complex triangulated diagrid façade.Hanan is passionate about sustainable and innovative construction technologies and materials. Her structural engineering background equips her with expertise in technically involved designs, enabling her to excel in projects that explore new construction techniques. Her previous experience with off-site construction including volumetric and panelised modular education projects has led to her interest in Mass Timber construction.

Her methodical approach and strong grasp of architectural intent, allows her to navigate between conceptual and practical thinking, delivering unique solutions and seamless project execution.

Currently, Hanan is the Project Manager on landmark South Australian mass timber project, Tonsley Technical College and Factory of the Future. The development utilises Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) slabs and Glued Laminated Timber (GLT) for the structure including columns, beams, slabs and trusses. She and the Sarah Constructions team have been involved from the early concept stage, collaborating closely with Flinders University and the Department for Education on this significant project.


Yuichiro Shinohara

President and CEO, Shinohara Shoten

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Before joining TBS, Tim spent 18 years at General Motors Holden, where he gained extensive experience in engineering leadership and project management, equipping him with the skills necessary to lead diverse and complex projects both locally and globally.

As a key leader at TBS, Tim has played a crucial role in the company’s evolution from a startup to a reputable player in the prefabricated building industry. Over the past seven years, he has overseen the expansion of TBS’s operations, including the establishment of a manufacturing facility in Victoria. Tim’s expertise in areas such as Building Information Modeling (BIM), lean manufacturing, and product design has been instrumental in guiding TBS’s strategic direction.

Under Tim’s leadership, TBS has successfully executed numerous prefab projects across Australia and New Zealand, solidifying its reputation for quality and innovation. He remains dedicated to furthering TBS’s growth and, consequently, the growth of prefabricated construction.


Kevin Naranjo

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Kevin serves as the National Program Manager for Mass Timber for the U.S. Forest Service Wood Innovations Program, a position he has held for 3 ½ years. He has worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 12 years. Prior to the Forest Service, he worked 16 in the private sector as a construction manager for Turner Construction.

He is retired after 20 years of service from the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps. He has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois and a MS in in Environmental Management from American Public University. Kevin and his wife currently reside in Washington, DC


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His comprehensive project knowledge extends over many sectors including industrial design, commercial, retail, education, master planning, mixed-use, public, high rise residential, rail and stadia.

John has a keen interest in projects involving a high degree of technical and functional complexity where a particular focus on the craft of building, material and structural expression and the play of light and shadow may contribute positively to the human experience.

John’s strengths in design and management are evident from concept design to delivery. His detailed design skill, technical expertise and flexible thinking contribute to exemplary urban realm and built form.

As a design and team leader, John is a skilled mentor and has demonstrated the ability to translate briefed requirements into award-winning built form.


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Over his career, Robert has become an industry leader in mass timber construction, and has led many of Fast + Epp’s most notable and ambitious projects, including the TallWood House at Brock Commons, Limberlost Place, The Hive, and the PNE Amphitheater.

Robert has received several awards for his contributions to the profession, including the iStructE Young Structural Engineering Professional Award, and the SEABC Young Member Meritorious Achievement Award. He is a frequent lecturer, a contributing author on several publications relating to timber research and development, and is passionate about sharing his knowledge and lessons learned with the design community.


Andy Russell
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Andy has worked with building envelope specialists Proctor Group in the UK and in Japan, including a spell on secondment to a major prefabricated house manufacturer. In his suitcase on arrival in Australia in 2007, he carried some of the first vapour permeable ProctorWrap membranes seen here. He was a contributor to the first edition of the ABCB Condensation Handbook, and more recently, the Design Guide on Insulation and Condensation Management in Timber Construction. Andy is motivated, however possible, building by building, to improve the health and comfort of our built environment and positively impact the health of current and future generations of occupants.

Gareth Connell
National Specification Manager, Cabot’s Premium Woodcare Brands

Gareth has been involved in the coating industry for over 36 years, delivering high performance coatings solutions in Australia, SE Asia, Europe & China.

His expertise spans product development, application, production, commercial sales, specification and business development.

He has covered a wide portfolio of technology bases during this time, ranging from high performance façade finishing systems, architectural powder & fluoropolymer coatings to decorative, automotive and wood coating technologies.


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Jeroen commenced as Deputy Secretary of the Housing Statement Implementation in February 2024. He is responsible for driving forward the Victorian Government’s ambitious Housing Statement, working closely with the housing construction industry to deliver the homes that Victorians can enjoy for generations to come.

Jeroen has held various senior positions across the Victorian Public Service, including as Commander of Victoria’s COVID Response and CEO for Public Transport Victoria and VicRoads. With a post graduate degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the London School of Economics, Jeroen began his career in management consulting, working with clients in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States. He then held several high-profile roles over ten years with Transport for London (TfL) including as Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer (Surface Transport). Following his time with TfL, Jeroen served as Managing Director, UK Transport for Serco Group plc, and then Chief Operating Officer – UK Bus at FirstGroup plc.

Having moved to Victoria almost ten years ago, Jeroen is an Australian citizen and the proud father of two adult children.


Nick Hewson
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FWPA is a not-for-profit industry services company that collaborates with government and industry to deliver transformative RD&E initiatives and market development programs to drive growth in the Australian forest and wood products industry.

Kevin’s background includes key roles with the Australian Forest Products Association, Timber Towns Victoria, the National Timber Councils Australia, Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment and Director for the Forest Stewardship Council.


Perry Forsythe
Emeritus Professor, University of Technology, Sydney

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Andrew has 39 years of experience in the building industry, with the last 33 years within the timber sector and 23 years as CEO of TDA.
He is educated in Civil/Structural Engineering from the University of Sydney and has a Master of Timber Engineering from Central Queensland University.
Andrew’s work within the timber industry has been at the market end of the timber industry’s supply. Focusing on the needs of the construction sector and matching the capacity or ability of the timber industry to meet these needs.
Technically based, he has represented the industry on numerous committees from Australian Standard, Building Industry, Government and timber industry boards and panels. He has co-chaired two international timber industry networks on the promotion and promotion of fire-safe timber buildings.
He has extensive knowledge in fire and sound timber technology and is more recently involved in introducing cross-laminated timber and mid-rise timber-framed building systems to Australia


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Nathan Benbow
Engineering Design Manager, Australian Sustainable
Hardwoods (ASH)

Nathan, Young Engineer of the Year – Victoria Winner for 2021 is a highly skilled structural engineer who genuinely believes there is a better way to build. He is passionate about mass timber design and construction and is doing what he can to make positive change in the local construction industry.
Nathan has delivered many note-worthy projects during his career, including the Royd Clan’s House in Ceres, Adina Hotel’s 55 Southbank Boulevard and the MASSLAM skylight at the Westfield Knox redevelopment.
Nathan joined the team at Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) in 2021 and is developing the design and detailing capabilities of MASSLAM GLT and assisting project structural engineers to optimise designs using DfMA principles.

Phil Tondl
Group Manager ‑ Design & Innovation, Lipman

Phillip Tondl is the Group Manager of Design and Innovation at Lipman. He is also the Assembly and Integration Lead in the Manufacturing for Schools Program.

For a long time, the once united disciplines of architecture and building have been parting, to the detriment of both. This is the context of Phil’s career. Detriment is evident in the quality and quantity of contemporary architectural production. Buildings aren’t made like they used to be, nor can they be. We have an unprecedented challenge to steward resources responsibly. Materials, labour, and energy are scarce. Productivity has nosedived. The consequences of careless consumption are all around us. Yet the basic societal need for buildings is accelerating. For the optimist, this is a moment of opportunity.

In his work, Phil wants builders and architects working shoulder to shoulder, united in their effort. Add to this collaboration manufacturers, and then the long list of design professionals that are necessary to getting anything built in our cities. He expects the manufactured component of quality buildings will increase and he hopes this will be a measurable trend over this decade. He is committed to supporting this effort.

Phil believes quality must penetrate the skin to reach the structure and services of buildings because these components last a long time. He is less interested in the parts of buildings that are vulnerable to fashion and style. These have become Phil’s convictions over the last 10 years, predominantly during his work at Lipman. Engagement with the manufacturing sector has been a cornerstone of this formation.

Key projects of this period include the Macquarie University Incubator (2017), Fern Bay Public School (2021), Ryde Secondary College (2023), Oran Park Public School (2023), and Gregory Hills Public School (2024). Education is dominant in this experience because these clients have been amongst the first to intentionally ask for something different and better. The experience is transferrable, and we are just getting started.