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The competitive gap widens

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Comparison of steel and concrete frame costs, Buildings A & B – average of all schemes

The cost gap between steel and concrete as framing materials is bigger than it has ever been, according to the latest in the independently produced Cost Comparison study series. Steel frames have consistently been proven to be faster to build and more cost effective than reinforced concrete alternatives since the series started in 1993.

The cost differential between the average steel and concrete options is actually wider now than it was in 1995  when the steel options were £12.10/m2 cheaper –  they are now £47.55/m2 cheaper. The latest survey, using second quarter 2010 figures, shows the concrete frame and floor options cost an average of £160.36/m2 compared to the average steel cost of only £112.81/m2.

The independently produced cost comparison study for commercial buildings includes costings, structural design and programming by a team comprising Davis Langdon, Arup and MACE respectively.

The study considers two typical modern commercial developments, Building A which is a 2,600 square metre office in Manchester, and Building B which represents a prestige office building of 18,000 m2 in London. developments.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills produces monthly statistics tracking material costs against GDP inflation, allowing real terms comparison to be made. They show that since 1995 the cost of steel has increased by 16%, the cost of concrete has increased by 20% and reinforcement bar has increased by 53%.

Alan Todd, BCSA Marketing Development Director, said: “This annual cost comparison study has consistently shown that steel is more cost effective than concrete as a framing solution. That fact is reflected in the annual survey of market shares, which confirms steel is the choice for 70% of the UK’s multi storey building frames.”

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