Forest Innovation Investments India Pvt Ltd (also known as Canadian Wood), the British Columbia government’s market development agency that promotes forest products in India, expects high-net worth individuals (HNIs) to drive its growth phase in the near-term, supported by its strong initiatives in promoting wood in construction segment and increasing environmental awareness.  

The company has unveiled its WoodNiido house, a 1620 sq ft single-storey pre-fabricated wood frame house built using five Canadian wood species, on OMR Road in Chennai. This is part of demo projects built across cities using Canadian wood species. 

Demo houses

“I think we’ve built enough demo houses giving a glimpse to people to build with wood. We provide on-site supervision that no shortcuts are made and ensure all steps are followed the way they should. We have demo projects in Chennai, Bengaluru and one is coming up very shortly in Hyderabad. We have done two in Mysore. We’ve got a couple of commercial projects already done in Trivandrum and some other places on the shore in Kerala. We have done it in the range of 350-6500 sq ft,” Pranesh Chhibber, Country Director, Forest Innovation Investments India told BusinessLine. 

The company expects HNIs to be early adopters of wood-based houses.

“Even 2 per cent of the total population slowly recognises the benefits of building and staying in a wooden house, it will percolate down slowly over time. So, it’s no point trying to go to the masses immediately. Water always flows from top to bottom, he added. 

He explained that wood-frame construction, which is the most common method for residential projects globally, offered better thermal performance, insulation, versatility, and other systems. Also, Canadian wood products come from sustainably managed forests. Since India has made a lot of efforts to protect its forest resources, imports would help India preserve its tropical forests.  

Usage of wood in India

Though India has been a country with a fabulous wood culture, there has been limited use of wood in structures unlike in North America, China or Japan, he said. 

Helped by a well-thought-out approach over the past five years, Canadian Wood has started making its presence felt gradually in the manufacturing industry. It started its efforts with the manufacturing sector to understand how people worked with wood and also to gauge user preferences.  

Sawmills in India

“We got a very good reception from manufacturers for two reasons. One, Canadian wood comes in the lumber form, not in log form. Also, when factories in India receive locally sawn lumber from the sawmills in India, they have to spend a lot of time, effort, energy and money sorting the wood.

“Sawmills in India are outdated. They are not very well-calibrated. So there’s uneven sawing, whereas the lumber which you get from Canada is perfect in all respect. The manufacturers were very happy as lumber from Canada offers huge savings on time, money and effort to arrive at sorting of timber besides elimination of wastages,” said Chhibber.