Controlling costs is essential to staying within budget for a project — but there are factors to consider beyond raw material prices, energy, and labor.
The choice of certain systems, such as framing systems, can garner significant cost advantages. While each project is different, cold-formed steel (CFS) framing can often add thousands of dollars to your building’s bottom line. Here are five examples where CFS framing was used in place of another building material to realize significant cost savings.
$7.50 savings per square foot
The Canadian Institute of Steel Construction (CISC) compared two schemes for erecting a six-story building: cast-in-place (CIP) concrete and structural steel. The entire construction cycle was analyzed, including concept and design, sustainability, and complete project costs.
The resulting report, “Comparative Case Study: Steel vs. Concrete Framing Systems,” demonstrated a difference in savings of $7.50 per square foot ($81 per square meter) in favor of steel construction. And more savings can be realized through lower crane costs, less overhead, and less interim financing.
$1.3 million in insurance savings
While wood sometimes has a stud-for-stud cost advantage over CFS, wood is combustible. Insurance carriers generally assess high builders risk premiums and property insurance premiums for wood construction.
According to “Insurance Savings with Cold-Formed Steel” from the Steel Framing Industry Association (SFIA), builders risk insurance adds $0.48 to $0.62 per $100 of construction value on wood-framed projects. CFS framing has the advantage.
The builders risk insurance on a four-story, CFS-framed, 400-unit hotel built in 24 months cost $360,000, SFIA noted. The same coverage on a wood-framed hotel would have cost $1.6 million. Thus, the developer saved about $1.3 million. And, he pays $66,000 less each year for property insurance.
Up to $10,000 savings in security detail
Many Canadian municipalities have mandated new fire-related requirements for wood-framed mid-rise buildings. These include detailed fire safety plans, floor-by-floor sprinklers and standpipes, fire watches during hot work, and extra site security.
The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s (MMAH) latest guideline, “Fire Safety During Construction for Five and Six Stores Wood Buildings in Ontario: A Best Practice Guideline,” details over a hundred pages of fire mitigation measures for wood projects. These precautions include the use of charged fire hydrants prior to bringing significant amounts of combustibles on site, after-hours on-site lighting and security cameras, and after-hours security guards for fire prevention.
CFS-framed projects have a cost advantage because CFS is non-combustible. One builder had to post 24-hour security guards during construction of his wood-frame project, SFIA noted. The security detail added $6,000 to $10,000 per month.
Additional $100,000 earned for a shorter construction timeframe
On a five-story apartment building, CFS framing shaved at least six weeks off construction versus poured concrete or masonry, according to an SFIA case study. Because of the time savings, the developer was able to earn an extra $100,000 by collecting rent from tenants earlier than expected.
Additional savings came through lower financing charges, pared site supervision, and less labor — all by using CFS framing on the project.
CFS even augmented the schedule in comparison to masonry and concrete construction. “The other trades were able to access the building much earlier,” the general contractor said.
$40,000 in savings for using CFS trusses
Recently, a credit union’s new headquarters decided to use CFS trusses instead of wood trusses. The switch came after the design-build contractor learned that building officials would require fire sprinklers to protect wood, but not CFS, trusses. The senior project architect said avoiding fire sprinklers with CFS trusses saved the project $40,000.
The speediness of the CFS truss installation also saved “close to 40 percent on labor,” the truss contractor said. Work ended five to six weeks early, he added.
No framing system has a monopoly on cost savings in all cases. But, CFS systems have many unique cost advantages you can count on for your building project. Learn more about how CFS framing can help you meet your budget goals by downloading our eBook, “Building Within Budget: Ideas for Shaving Months and Dollars Off Your Next Construction Project.”
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