A new study shows that timber buildings can be up to 10-15% cheaper to construct than traditional designs in several different building types. The study, “Commercial Building Costing Case Studies – Traditional Design versus Timber Project,” was led by Andrew Dunn, chief executive of the Timber Development Association (TDA) in Australia. Part of a seminar series touring Australia, the report contains detailed designs of four building types in both timber and conventional construction, with a quantity surveyor comparing cost estimates between them. See how timber compared to conventional methods after the break.
Compared to conventional methods, timber construction saved 12.4% for a commercial office building, 13.9% for an aged care facility, 2.2% for an apartment building and 9.4% for a portal-framed industrial shed.
The University of Technology Sydney co-developed the research method and collaborated on design, cost and site issues with Arup, AECOM, Studio 505 and Fitzpatrick + Partners. Building Cost Information System, part of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, provided costs for timber compared to concrete-framed or steel-framed building. For commercial and residential building designs, costs associated with heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, facade and acoustic considerations were also analyzed.
The research did not take into account savings that could be garnered from using timber as a solution to sites with poor ground conditions, or as an off-site modular and prefabricated solution for sites with restricted access. There was also a sole focus on construction savings, and not on the environmental benefits over a building’s lifetime, which could contribute to savings – not to mention that with greater demand for timber, there would have to be more trees planted.
At the moment, clients have not had a level of certainty regarding pricing, making timber construction less competitive in its risk profile. As supply chains become more reliable and the savings in timber construction become more evident, it may become a viable solution to rising construction costs.