TIMBER is the answer to the affordable housing issue, according to Dr Paul Nielson, one of the speakers at the forthcoming Building with Wood' Conference in Exeter on Tuesday, September 18.

Dr Nielson, a general practitioner from Devon, has been pioneering the use of timber for affordable housing, building his first timber house on land near his existing home.

The house, which was shortlisted for the Telegraph Small House Builder of the Year, only cost £32,000 to build - just over half of the government's target of £60,000 for an affordable house.

He is interested in the link between affordable housing and health, and feels that timber has a significant role to play in addressing the housing crisis.

He said: "Our first project was an oak cruck house, built with timber sourced from a five-mile radius of the plot, using one of the South-West's most plentiful resources.

"It took 5 weeks to construct a two storey building, but now we can build a timber house within five days! It is exceptionally energy efficient, costing only £15 a quarter to heat, so quite within most people's budget."

The conference takes place at the University of Exeter. Headlined by Wayne Hemingway, co founder of Hemingway Design and Chair of Building for Life, the event will consider timber's role in sustainable construction with an exhibition of the most innovative timber buildings in Europe, and speakers from all aspects of the industry.

Sponsored by the Forestry Commission, the event is also being supported by a partnership of other agencies.