Jun 30, 2014

Rising construction costs? Four ways using timber systems can help

Much has been made in recent months of the rising costs for construction firms. Pressure on several fronts has brought about noticeable increases to costs for builders, particularly as demand picks up in the housebuilding sector. There are ways of alleviating this though.

At the end of last month, it was reported that the cost of bricks had gone up 13% in the first three months of 2014 alone. That followed months of supply chain pressure, brought about by the brick shortage. In fact, that particular challenge has been ongoing for more than a year.

On top of the rising costs of materials, late last year stories appeared in national newspapers about the “£40,000 brickie”. The sudden upturn in the housing market, boosted by schemes like Help to Buy, brought about a wave of demand for bricklayers resulting in rising labour costs.

At the same time, some housebuilders are reporting increased workmanship and quality defects caused by the scarcity of bricklayers. Even the traditional 2+1 bricklayer crews are now reducing to a two crew and which is extending build durations.

Combined, these factors suggest that increased costs are inevitable for the industry. That doesn’t have to be the case.

If builders are looking for ways to control project costs, a good place to start is by seeking out alternatives to traditional bricks and mortar. Using timber systems is an ideal way of doing this, as they offer significant savings over other forms of construction.

Here are the top four ways they can help you reduce expenditure:

1. Lower site prelim costs – Our timber systems are manufactured offsite in our fully purpose-built factories based in Witney and Aberdeen.  With most of the work taking place in these facilities, there are lower costs related to site supervision and establishment, methodology of construction, access restrictions, as well plant and programme requirements.

2. Reduced labour costs – Timber systems offer an enhanced speed of build for projects. That results in a lower requirement for labour, with the associated cost benefits. Offsite construction means that projects aren’t relying on good weather, while the foundation of the building and the envelope can be put together concurrently. What’s more, it’s also safer, with a decreased likelihood of falls from height and the use of safety decking. That gives labourers peace of mind as they work, speeding up construction.

3. Decreased cranage and scaffolding costs – Less time on site means less work that requires portable equipment, particularly when it comes to cranes and scaffolding. Our erect teams will come on site and install the timber systems after we supply them. That cuts down on the amount of time spent preparing and dismantling the scaffolding. The decreased requirement for both cranage and scaffolding reduces capital outlay on this equipment and makes sites safer, with a reduced requirement for work at height.

4. Lower material disposal costs – Reduced work on site means less waste. Offsite construction means a lower volume of waste and damage to materials is minimised. Much of the waste can also be recycled or reused, rather than going to expensive landfills. Both of our factories are ISO 14001 and Chain of Custody certified meaning we do our utmost to limit our impact on the environment and only use sustainable timber and wood-based products.

There are many other ways using timber systems can help reduce project costs. Among them are savings to be made on carpentry and materials expenditure for insulation and dry lining. What’s important though, is that construction firms are looking at different ways they can reduce costs.

How are you planning to offset the rise in brick and labour prices for your projects? Tell us by getting in touch or tweeting us on @TimberSystems.

Homes For Scotland Home Builders Federation National House-Building Council Royal Institute of British Architects Structural Timber Association Constructionline British Board of Agrement Wood Campus Build Off Site Building Research Establishment WOOD FOR GOOD

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