“Workshop: Understanding Roof Inspections” – In Cape Town And Johannesburg In October

Workshop: Understanding Roof Inspections” – In Cape Town And Johannesburg In October

The Institute for Timber Construction South Africa (ITC-SA)has informed SA Builder that, in an effort to boost skills development in South Africa’s roofing industry, the ITC will be hosting CPD-accredited workshops on Understanding Roof Inspections in both Johannesburg and Cape Town from 22 to 24 October 2019.

Those interested in expanding their knowledge and expertise in timber roof structures will greatly benefit from this informative workshop, which covers a comprehensive technical overview of prefabricated timber roof structures and the inspection thereof. The workshop aims to enable the individual to execute and apply their knowledge and skill in the interest of public safety, and to execute their work in accordance with general norms and regulations.

Workshop agenda

Day 1:




Basic roof terminology, including:

  • Rafters, tie-beams, webs

  • Gables, hips

  • Truncated hips, true span

  • Overhangs, cantilevers

  • Prefabricated/bolted methods




Basics of timber design, including loading and information on relevant codes. Permissible stress and limit state loading explained. Tributary loading.


Finger lunch


Bracing in roofs in general: Difference in lightly versus heavily loaded roofs. (Experience from the field through slides and pictures.)


Who is the ITC-SA? Role players and their different responsibilities in the timber structures roofing industry.


End of Day 1

Day 2:


Rafter bracing: Why different systems of bracing are necessary, study standard bracing details.




Tie-beam and web bracing: Standard bracing details. (Case studies of failures with pictures.)




Handling, transportation and storage of timber structures.


Discussion of paperwork required. Discuss who is responsible for paperwork.


Site visit to a timber roof under construction. (On-site guidance and discussion.)


End of Day 2


Day 3:


Second site visit (to a different site) to see a timber roof in distress and the effects of ineffective bracing.




Discussion of site observations.


Discussion of ethics regarding roof inspection.


Q&A session


Finger lunch


Slide show of non-compliant roofs and the consequences.




End of Day 3

The workshop has been CPD accredited by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) for 3 points. ECSA Validation No.: ITCSA-INS0817. All candidates will receive the ITC-SA manuals for roof inspections.

Taaibos Lodge, Welgevonden. Photo: John Thome

Note: On completion of the workshop, candidates will receive a certificate of attendance.

Cost: R5 800 excl. VAT
Date: 22-24 October 2019
Time: 8am – 4pm daily
Venues: Cape Town: 32 Stepping Stone Street, Eversdal
Johannesburg: SAFCA Building, 6 Hulley Road, Isando
Limited to: 10 candidates per workshop

NB: Please note that course attendees are required to wear safety shoes for the site visits and that own transport is arranged for each day as well as to sites.


  • ITC-SA Bracing Manuals Volume 1

  • ITC-SA Bracing Manual Volume 2

  • Note Pad & Pen

  • Hard Hat & Reflector Vest

Visit www.itc-sa.org to access the “Workshop: Understanding Roof Inspections” registration form. Please email the completed form along with proof of payment to jessica@itc-sa.org. For more information, call +27 (0)11 974 1061, email enquiries@itc-sa.org or visit www.itc-sa.org.


As a professional body, the ITC-SA’s vision is to create and maintain the highest standards in the engineered timber construction industry by monitoring its membership, continuously improving standards, promoting and marketing engineered timber structures, and overseeing the training and development of its members.

ITC-SA Roof Estimator/Designer Courses open for registration

Registration for the ITC-SA’s Level 1 and 2 Estimator/Designer Courses closes 30 June 2019

ITC-SA Roof Estimator/Designer Courses open for registration

The Institute for Timber Construction South Africa (ITC-SA), South Africa’s engineered timber construction industry body, offers estimators and designers in the nail-plated timber roof truss industry access to fundamental training through its Level 1 and 2 Estimator/Designer Courses. Registration for these courses is now open.

Engineering software for roof trusses has seen rapid advancement over recent years and has revolutionized the role of the timber roof truss designer and estimator. Even so, the product of software generation is only as good as its input, making it vital that the designer and estimator understand the basics of truss design and can easily detect errors in software output.

In order to address the need for training in this area, the ITC-SA hosts Level 1 and 2 Estimator/Designer Courses, which address the basic mathematics, calculations, general concepts and 3D visualizations that need to be fully grasped and correctly implemented in order to be a well-rounded, capable, confident and efficient timber roof truss designer or estimator.

Course delivery is through self-study of professionally prepared content supplied by the ITC-SA. A certificate of completion is awarded based on the submission of two open-book assignments (submitted via email) as well as a final written exam, which will be facilitated in KwaZulu-Natal, Cape Town, the Southern Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and other areas as required. Entry into the examination will only be granted to students who have submitted both prior assignments for marking.

Course dates for ITC-SA Level 1 & 2 Estimator/Designer Courses:

First assignment:

Sent to students: 22 July 2019

Returned by students: 9 September 2019

Second assignment:

Sent to students: 9 September 2019

Returned by students: 28 October 2019

Examination date: 15 November 2019

Assignment marks contribute 40% towards the final mark and a minimum of 70% final average is expected for successful completion of the course.

Enrolment and fees

To enrol for the courses, applicants are to access enrolment forms at www.itc-sa.org/designer-programme/. Completed enrolment forms along with proof of payment are to be submitted to enquiries@itc-sa.org, whereupon the applicant will be granted access to the relevant course work in electronic format. Fees must be paid upfront and in full in order to enrol for the course.

Level 1 Estimator/Designer Course: R3648 including VAT

Level 2 Estimator/Designer Course: R4218 including VAT

Note: Mathematical content for the Level 2 course is of a fairly high level and applicants who have not yet attained a grade 12 level in the subject should carefully consider participation before payment of the non-refundable course fee.

The course notes and commentaries will be provided for home study and the fee includes the marking of written assignments and the cost of the final assessment which will be written at a suitable neutral venue.

NOTE: The SANS Code of Practice 10243 is a requirement for study purposes and can be obtained from SABS, Standard Sales, Private Bag X191, Pretoria, 0001, Tel: (012) 428-6834/6932, Fax: (012) 344-1568.

Banking Details:

ABSA Bank – Isando

Account No.: 01029382316

Branch code: 523-142

In name of: Institute for Timber Construction (ITC)

Payment reference: Student Name and Surname

For more information, visit www.itc-sa.org.

Registration for the ITC-SA’s Level 1 and 2 Estimator/Designer Courses closes 30 June 2019.

Tertiary institutions urged to embrace timber construction in engineering

Tertiary institutions urged to embrace timber construction in engineering

Thea Smal, Engineer at Unilam Pressings and engineering graduate, has taken advantage of the courses on offer at the ITC-SA to help bridge the gap between her studies and the practical application thereof in her current profession

The Institute for Timber Construction South Africa (ITC-SA), SAQA-accredited professional body for the engineered timber construction industry, has noted a decline in familiarity with timber as a building material among graduates of local tertiary level engineering programmes, which has serious implications for the timber industry. As such, the Institute urges training providers in this field to review their curricula for a more holistic offering that embraces timber as a standard construction material.

While timber frame construction makes up a small, but growing, percentage of new builds in South Africa, timber is widely used for roof trusses, from domestic to commercial applications across the country. “With the high-volume usage of timber in roof trusses for a range of roofing applications, it is essential that all participants in the value chain are well equipped to ensure that timber roof trusses adhere to regulations, from design to certification,” says Amanda Obbes, ITC-SA General Manager, remarking, “The engineer has a pivotal role to play in ensuring the safety of the occupants of a structure, not just during the design, fabrication and erection of the roof trusses, but they essentially have the final say on whether or not a structure is fit for habitation. This makes it essential for the engineer to have proper exposure to timber and its design capabilities as a construction material and is the reason the ITC-SA is calling on universities and colleges to extend to timber its due in their engineering courses and degree programmes.”

A graduate’s perspective

Thea Smal, Civil Engineer at Unilam Pressings, has experienced this phenomenon as a university graduate. “At university, our exposure to timber construction was only in a third-year semester subject, namely Timber Design. We were offered much more in-depth learning for the other structural industries like concrete and steel, with two full semesters dedicated to these, as well as a measure of practical experience in the field. The first time I was introduced to timber as a building material was also the first introduction to limit-states design and our first exposure to information on how to design. Both concepts were introduced in the same subject with a focus on how to design using the SANS codes with limited reference to implementing these in the timber industry.”

While it is not uncommon for new graduates to experience a temporary ‘gap’ or lag between skills learned at university and their application in the working environment, upon entering the timber construction sector, Smal experienced an amplified break between the theoretical learnings from her studies and applying these at work: “It was difficult when I started working; I had a gap between what I had learned and how to apply this,” she says.

Timber and the built environment

The ITC-SA calls on training providers in the engineering field to review their curricula for a more holistic offering that embraces timber as a standard construction material

The world is developing at a rapid pace and we need more building options to support this growth. With prolific urbanization afoot, many developers are targeting height as an answer to density and most often will use steel and concrete to build these structures. We are missing a golden opportunity by skipping out on timber altogether, to build these structures more sustainably with a natural and renewable resource, because timber is often not part of the engineering graduate’s toolkit,” she says, noting, “A more sophisticated grasp of the benefits and limitations of all materials, timber included, could help to create a built environment in which timber is not pushed to the sidelines, but is harnessed alongside other industries, used for primary construction and stepping in to complement other trades, for a better construction sector overall.”

Bridging gaps

Early on, working for an ITC-SA System Supplier, Smal realized that there was an opportunity to broaden her knowledge and practical skillset in the timber construction field. She was led to the ITC-SA, whose mandate it is, as a professional body, to oversee the training and development of its members. “I was delighted to find the courses on offer at the ITC-SA. I have learned a great deal from participating in these courses and they have helped me bridge the gap between my studies and the practical application thereof so that I can carry out my profession with confidence,” she says.

As part of the ITC-SA’s directive to boost skills development and bridge gaps in the timber construction sector, the Institute offers a number of online courses and regularly hosts Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) approved CPD-accredited training courses for continuous professional development. These include, among others, timber information conferences and workshops at various trade shows and institutions like Local Authorities, Public Works, Banking Institutions and Banking Valuators,” Obbes remarks.

Online courses available through the ITC-SA

Roof Specialist Level 1

Home study, online assessment

Min. R380

Level 1 Estimator/Designer Course

6 ECSA CPD points

Home study, written assignments & exam

R3200 excl. VAT

Level 2 Estimator/Designer Course

6 ECSA CPD points

Home study, written assignments & exam

R3700 excl. VAT

Roof Inspection Training Course

3 ECSA CPD points

6-8 November 2018, Gauteng

R5800 excl. VAT

According to Obbes, “Exposing professionals and industry specifiers to timber construction on equal footing with other construction materials during their studies and beyond is critical, not only for the timber industry to thrive, but for multiple trades to be able to work in complement with one another for the best possible outcome. Without the necessary skills in the timber sector, this vision has little chance of being fully realized. This is why the Institute has implemented a host of courses that can boost the professional’s knowledge of timber, not only for personal development, but for the value that this brings to their workplace and the industry at large.”

Timber has unrivalled potential as a building material to answer the global call for more sustainable buildings that serve the people who live, work and play in them as well as environmental imperatives that will continue to underpin our drive for a greener built environment; it is critical that we support this vision through education, training and life-long learning,” she concludes.

The ITC-SA welcomes feedback and suggestions from students, professionals and other institutions in South Africa on the role that timber construction plays in tertiary education courses and programmes. The Institute calls on role players in the industry to submit their suggestions for collaboration to advance the agenda of timber construction in the field of engineering. Please forward your comments, suggestions or collaboration proposals to amanda@itc-sa.org.

Potential of timber construction top of mind at annual Wood Conference

Potential of timber construction top of mind at annual Wood Conference

The 8th annual Wood Conference, well-respected knowledge platform for architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and timber experts, took place in February at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. With attendance having grown tenfold since its inception in 2011, this year’s event, themed ‘Fascination Wood’, brought local and international experts together to share insights into the extensive possibilities of timber in design and construction.

Hosted for the first time in partnership with Forum Holzbau, leading platform for world-class specialist conferences in wood architecture and design, the Wood Conference played host to timber and related industry professionals and delegates from South Africa and abroad.

Werner Slabbert Jnr, Managing Director of Eco Log Homes, participated in this year’s Wood Conference and argued that timber construction has excellent potential to be a frontrunner not only in lowering the carbon footprint of public and private buildings, but in sequestering carbon during its ‘manufacturing’ stage

The conference covered a range of topics from the state of the local forestry sector to the benefits of marrying BIM, or Building Information Modelling/Management, with timber for better work-flow, efficiency and engineering. The takeaways from the range of talks were clear: we need to use more timber in design and construction; digital design and timber make a formidable combination in creatively solving a host of design and architectural challenges; and in addition to being well positioned to play a role in housing, design work, global green economies and more, used more in these and other spheres, timber can also play a significant role in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions the world over.

Werner Slabbert Jnr, Managing Director of Eco Log Homes, participated in this year’s Wood Conference, delivering a talk focusing on local and global issues of pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and the push to lower and mitigate these by way of various carbon tax laws. He argued that timber construction, which it is estimated accounts for around 70% of all housing stock across developed countries, has excellent potential to be a frontrunner, not only in lowering the carbon footprint of public and private buildings, but in sequestering carbon during its ‘manufacturing’ stage.

With attendance having grown tenfold since its inception in 2011, the Wood Conference brought local and international experts together to share insights into the extensive possibilities of timber in design and construction

Slabbert concluded that continuously educating both the trade and consumer for a general shift in mindset and perception is key to growing the market for timber frame building locally. What better way, he asserted, than to reach ordinary South Africans through public infrastructure buildings built of wood, and for representatives in the sector to act as ambassadors not only for their own brands, but for the timber construction sector at large.

“The Wood Conference 2018 was once again a fantastic opportunity for industry professionals, students and even the public interested in timber as a design or construction material to learn more about the incredible properties of this green material and the innovations springing from South Africa and overseas to harness its potential for creative solutions to human challenges across the world,” says Slabbert, concluding, “Heartiest thanks to the organisers for another well-organised conference that continues to put timber in the spotlight at a time when green building and sustainability are increasingly vital to mankind’s well-being and survival.”


Eco Log Homes is a multiple award-winning construction company based in Johannesburg. With a wealth of experience and attention to detail, it has been delivering beautifully hand-crafted timber homes to both national and international markets for over 15 years. Eco Log Homes specialises in turnkey developments, hotels, B&Bs, game lodges, residential and holiday homes.

Timber roof trusses and fire regulations

Timber roof trusses and fire regulations

While there are a few misconceptions around the fire performance of timber, structural timber for roofing is both commonplace and performs well under fire conditions. As with every aspect of building, timber roof trusses must be manufactured and erected in line with the National Building Regulations and SANS 10400, which provide for fire safety.

Building regulations, set in place by bodies such as the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) after extensive research and consultation with industry experts, consider all aspects of a given building material’s composition and properties to ensure that it meets the same safety and performance standard as any other building material in the same application.

Fire regulations relating to timber roof trusses state the following:

  • Each independent dwelling unit situated on either side of a fire wall must have its own bracing system within its roof structure, regardless of the fire wall projecting above the roof covering or not.

  • The fire regulations do not state the size of a permissible gap between timber members bearing on either side of the fire wall. However, trusses passing through a fire wall must be split into separate trusses.

  • The regulation states that “No part of the roof assembly, made of wood or any other combustible material, shall pass through the separating wall.”

  • No tile underlay or insulation may pass over the fire wall.

The Department of Public Works’ revised Guide to Architects on the subject of fire safety (1998: pp. 3), addresses the matter of fire walls in roof spaces as follows:

Fire walls, where required, shall be carried up tightly against the underside of the floor except that combustible minor structural members, such as battens, to which roofing material is directly fastened, may be permitted. Purlins must not penetrate a fire wall for a distance greater than 80 mm, but if they penetrate from both sides of the wall, at least 80 mm of non-combustible material must separate them.”

While the Institute for Timber Construction South Africa (ITC-SA) does not make the regulations governing timber construction in South Africa, as part of its endeavours to promote and protect the industry, its players and the general public, it interprets and disseminates them. It is the responsibility of all players, from the manufacture to erection and inspection of timber roof trusses to enforce the regulations; even engineers who sign off on a non-compliant roof structure could well be put to task by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).

Professor Walter Burdzik of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Pretoria confirms, “Any failure of a truss plant or roof inspector to insist on the separation of roofs per fire regulations needs to be reported to the ITC-SA. The same principle applies to low-cost housing; just because a roof is over a low-cost house does not justify deviating from National Building Regulations.”

The Institute thus urges all responsible along the timber roof truss value chain to play their part and act in accordance with both the National Building Regulations SANS 10400 and Building Standards Act 103 of 1977.


Fire Security; A Guide to Architects. Department of Public Works. Revised: January 1998. http://www.publicworks.gov.za/PDFs/consultants_docs/FPOG613E1998.PDF Accessed: 24 May 2017.