FAQ - Treehouse

Frequent Questions

What is Treehouse?

Treehouse was born from the natural progression of structural wood construction carried out by company JULAR Madeiras.

Initially created to enhance the range of modular homes provided by JULAR, the Treehouse brand quickly diversified to encompass not only housing construction, but also commercial buildings, restaurants, tourist developments, modular offices and sales stands, among other projects.

The modular component and a strong incorporation of pre-fabrication are the essence of our methods and constructive processes.

Why build with wood?

An awareness of how climate change is affecting the planet has brought new dynamics to the use of wood in construction, due to its unique properties of carbon absorption.

The 20th century was the century of steel, cement and glass architecture. The 21st century, as a result of the emergence and integration of new technologies, will be the century of the rational use of natural resources, and the rediscovery of wood as a building material that favours climate control.

Of all available building materials, wood is the only one that absorbs carbon from the atmosphere, unlike all others, which release it.

Constructions that use wood as the main element save energy and CO2; for thermal insulation, wood is far superior to concrete, steel and aluminium.

In addition to its traditional decorative role, wood has been rediscovered as an excellent material for structural construction, contributing naturally to reducing the effects of global warming.

It is up to each and every one of us to adopt a more responsible attitude in the fight against climate change. We can all make a difference by choosing products and lifestyles that reduce CO2 emissions and combat global warming.

What are the advantages of prefabrication?

Prefabrication is currently a competitive and highly reliable option and an alternative to traditional construction. Production in a controlled industrial environment allows tight quality control, at substantially lower prices than traditional construction. Prefabrication allows large-scale projects to be achieved with modern design and new architectural solutions, and is accessible to a greater number of people.

Prefabrication enables lower labour costs and productivity gains, minimising on-site work and on-the-job travel. With traditional builds, waste varies between 10% and 30%; with this system, it is often less than 2%.

With modular building systems like the Treehouse structure, the components are fully standardised, allowing the assembly and construction of the project in a very short space of time, and to competitive budgets. In the same way, it is possible to produce repetitions of several units in series, optimising production costs (human and material) and making work times more profitable.

Are Treehouse structures environmentally-friendly?

All modular houses and other Treehouse structures are designed according to the latest sustainable building techniques, and our construction systems solely use wood, the only natural, renewable and environmentally-friendly raw material. The wood components that integrate the Treehouse are PEFC or FSC certified (Chain of Custody certification), guaranteeing their provenance from forests that are certified as being of sustainable management.

Wood is the only clean-production building material — land, water and solar energy are sufficient — and it is also recyclable throughout its life cycle, thus generating almost zero impact on the surrounding environment.

What is the origin of the woods used in Treehouse structures?

One of JULAR’s main concerns is to work with certified suppliers, who guarantee a commitment of responsibility to forests and the environment. Most of the timber marketed by JULAR and which integrates the construction of its Treehouse structures, originates from the forests of northern Europe, where the tree-felling process is controlled. The forests are managed by reputable companies or entities and the cutting is based on periodical inventories elaborated with the aid of GPS equipment and other advanced technological systems, in order to ensure that the trees fulfill their natural growth period. Contrary to what is widely believed, forests in which tree-felling is done sustainably, witness a denser growth of the forest mass, as seen in countries such as Sweden or Norway, where buildings are made of wood par excellence and where the forest mass has increased considerably in recent years.

Does the wood used by JULAR in the manufacturing of Treehouse structures respect any recycling cycles?

Wood and wooden products are recycled even in the very final stage of the product’s life, giving rise to recycled particle board or serving for energy production, acting as a substitute for fossil fuels (biomass). JULAR has partnerships with companies that manufacture particle board or derivatives, which incorporate our waste into their products.

Is wood construction more vulnerable in the event of fire?

Unlike other materials, the molecular structure of wood has excellent performance at high temperatures, does not melt or break. Wood that is carbonised on the surface acts like a barrier that prevents gases and heat from passing, making it difficult for fire to spread deeper, and leaving a margin of time that allows the evacuation of space.

The rules for wooden buildings make it compulsory for sections to be designed for load-bearing elements that include a possible loss the of the section in the case of a fire. Structural elements used in large scale constructions may suffer some fire damage, but only superficially, without compromising the overall structural performance. Metal structures, on the other hand, have a low melting temperature and rapidly distort in the event of a fire, until they completely collapse.

Does a wooden building give way easily in the event of an earthquake or tremor?

Wood is one of the best weight-resistant materials. Its reduced weight translates into a very low inertia, an important feature in the event of an earthquake.

Another feature is flexibility, or ductility: the material deforms but does not break, and returns to its original shape.

It is worth highlighting the example of the Lisbon earthquake in 1755, after which Carlos Mardel and his team used wood liberally in the reconstruction of the city, and whose “cage” system, invented at the time, became famous. More recently, following the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, several wooden houses withstood the violence of the quake. And the reconstruction of the Italian city of L’Aquila, Italy, where after the earthquake of 2009 involved a process of reconstruction of many homes with wooden prefabricated panels.

Are timber-framed buildings stable and resistant to adverse weather phenomena?

The wooden structures developed by JULAR are projected and assessed by experienced technicians, based on the standards of Eurocode 5, the main European regulation applicable to wood construction.
For the building’s stability, it is essential that it is properly designed and the adequate sections for the different structural elements are used.

The Treehouse by JULAR structures are built according to the latest sustainable building techniques and meet all legal requirements in terms of strength and safety. They are made from certified and approved woods, guaranteeing the highest standards of quality and performance with regard to fire resistance, seismic resistance and energy efficiency.

Are wood constructions appropriate for all types of weather?

The excellent thermal properties of wood make it the material of choice par excellence for the construction of houses in cold climates. However, wood is also an excellent choice for hot climates, since at night the wood breathes, allowing heat accumulated during the day on the surfaces to dissipate, stabilising temperature fluctuations inside the house.

What kind of maintenance is required for a wooden construction?

Modular houses and other Treehouse structures have a protective coating based on high quality, durable natural oils and waxes.

However, if it is in a very open area, a renewal should be done every 3 or 4 years. The critical points are those that are most exposed to the elements, such as roofs, gutters or façades. Gutters should be cleaned at least once a year.

For the rest, the maintenance of a wooden construction is similar to a conventional build.

How long does a wooden building last?

A wooden building may last as long as or even longer than a traditional building, provided that the same maintenance care is applied. Special attention should be paid to roofs, which must be clear and cleaned of foliage, to allow good drainage of rainwater. If the structures are painted or have other finishings, the exterior walls should be maintained at intervals of 3 or 4 years.

The duration of a wooden building is theoretically unlimited — there are several millenarian buildings in wood all over the world.

How long does it take to build a wooden structure?

Prefabricated construction systems allow for the whole building project to be faster, since the entire manufacturing process is done at the factory and the assembly is completed at the site of deployment.
For Treehouse modular houses, in situations where a standard version is chosen and based on predefined layouts, the average delivery time from adjudication to handover is about 120 days.

For a customised wooden structure which requires a specific project, whether from the client or designed by JULAR, the execution deadlines are defined after analysing the dimensions and complexity of the project.
The deadlines can also vary, depending on the time required for licensing, which depends very much on the different licensing entities.

What are the main stages of the building process?

  • defining the basic project, with technical advice on the type of construction system to be used, definition of materials and choosing of finishes;
  • project preparation for architectural and/or special licensing;
  • manufacture and reception at factory;
  • final on-site installation.

How long is the warranty for a wooden construction?

The various models of wooden houses and structures built by JULAR are guaranteed for 5 years, in accordance with the legislation in force (art. 1225 of the Civil Code).

What is the energy rating of a wood build?

The classification of energy efficiency depends on several factors, such as the location of the building, the solar orientation, the protection of spans, etc. Depending on the customer’s choice, Treehouse modular houses can even meet the requirements for an A+ rating.

Is it possible to licence a house or building with a wooden structure?

Treehouse by JULAR structures are designed to comply with all regulations in force in Portugal.

Regarding Treehouse modular houses, the installation can be done without land modelling, construction works or connection to public infrastructures. For many councils this means a much more effective licensing process.
This is especially important if the land is classified as agricultural or ecological terrain (RAN or REN).
However, as each council categorises its land differently, it must always be verified beforehand with the local authority in question, how the process will be approached.

Although it may vary depending on the municipality, the projects required for licensing are generally Architecture, Stability, Electrical Network, Water and Sewerage Network, Telecommunications, and Thermal and Acoustics.

Is it possible to build a wooden house on an agricultural plot?

The construction of a Treehouse modular house can be done without waterproofing the ground, and is therefore a feature to take into consideration during the licensing process.

However, each municipality has its interpretation of the legislation, so it is necessary to consult the Land Planning Department of each council.

Does the installation of a wooden structure or a modular house need a concrete base?

Each project has its own specifics and it is possible to install a wooden structure on concrete slabs.

A concrete base is not compulsory, but the option should be considered, especially on rugged terrain, or when a basement is desired.

Our technical team is fully available to advise you on the best solution.

Is a wooden construction subject to Property Tax (IMI — Imposto Municipal sobre Imóveis)?

A wooden building is licensed like any traditional building and, once this process has been completed with the local authority, it will be subject to the payment of IMI like any other property.

Can a wooden house be licensed for permanent housing?

Our Treehouse by JULAR modular houses are designed for both permanent housing and secondary housing, and meet the legally-required specifications.

Can a wooden house be considered portable?

Depending on the construction system used, Treehouse modular houses may involve foundations with metal screws, wooden studs or concrete elements.

This differentiation of characteristics means each housing project is unique, which requires each municipality to apply its legislation accordingly. Therefore, it is necessary to consult with the municipality in question, to gauge how classification is done (whether it is considered a portable house or not).

Are there Tax Benefits to buying a wooden house?

So far there are no approved laws that allow tax benefits on the purchase of a wooden house, even if it is built with certified high performance materials, and comes from sustainable forests, such as the Treehouse by JULAR modular houses.

There are some countries with legislation passed in this area, which take into account the superior energy efficiency of housing. An entire building can be built from wood as long as the necessary energy efficiency requirements needed to obtain a certain classification are taken into account.

Is it possible to obtain a bank loan to buy a wooden house?

Most banks do not have a specific credit for this type of construction, although there are possibilities for financing, which vary bank to bank.

It may be possible to borrow a standard mortgage loan the conventional way. The initial guarantee will be the land on which the structure will be built. Subsequently, the evaluator may contact JULAR, visit the factory or similar constructions, to compose their evaluation report.

Some banks have certain types of financing that can be applied to the purchase of a modular wooden house. The options vary significantly from bank to bank, so if it is of interest, banks should be consulted directly.

What does a Treehouse modular house include?

  • wooden structure;
  • insulation system with thermal insulation and waterproofing screens;
  • external walls with thermal insulation and ventilation;
  • installation of electrics and water and sanitation system, including taps;
  • bathroom fittings;
  • high quality double glazed window frames;
  • interior coatings and doors.

What are the equipment options available for a Treehouse modular house?

  • exterior colour with wood stain (2 coats);
  • ventilated façade;
  • projects for licensing;
  • kitchen furniture and/or white goods;
  • HPL finish on kitchen top;
  • ceramic fittings in sanitary facilities;
  • window frames with laminated + tempered glass;
  • sliding doors in lounge/bedroom;
  • high-quality double-glazed tilt-and-turn windows and frames;
  • wardrobes;
  • wood-burning stove;
  • additional deck modules;
  • pergolas;
  • patio benches;
  • solar or photovoltaic panels;
  • air conditioning;
  • septic tank.

What is not included in a modular Treehouse?

  • topographic survey, other surveys and geo-technical studies;
  • pillars/foundations;
  • transport, assembly and lifting gear;
  • projects (except stability project);
  • taxes and licenses.

The excluded items are those that could imply the biggest variables when being factored in, hence why they have to analysed for each individual project. To reach a final figure a number of factors are taken into account, namely the finishes chosen by the customer, assembly and transportation, which vary according to the geographical area and the conditions of access to the site.

follow us