Steel construction has many
proven benefits over alternatives,
able to demonstrate a uniquely
high score on circular economy
calculations thanks to features like its
recyclability, versatility and ability to
be designed with future changes of use
A chief attribute for any market leading
construction material will always be cost,
which is where the benefits of steel can
probably be most easily shown, although
shorter construction programmes and
lower embodied carbon calculations are
sometimes seen as the key benefits.
The steel sector has a long history of
providing design and other guidance
that engineers, architects and other
construction professionals value in
making the design and construction
process as straightforward as possible,
New guidance on steel costs
A new series of guides from the steel construction sector helps estimators arrive at
accurate costs for steel-framed buildings. Architects and engineers will also benefit
from the detailed insights provided into key cost drivers.
at Prologis Park
The building AECOM used for the cost
model of an industrial building is a
distribution warehouse on ProLogis Park
The building’s key features are:
• Warehouse: four-span, steel portal frame,
with a net internal floor area of 34,000m2
• Office: 1,400m2, two-storey office wing with a
braced steel frame with columns.
Three structural options for the building were
assessed; a steel portal frame with a simple roof
solution, a hybrid option consisting of precast
concrete columns and glulam beams with
timber rafters, and a steel portal frame with a
northlight roof solution.
The full building cost plans for each
structural option have been reviewed and
updated to provide current costs at Q4 2017.
The costs, which include preliminaries,
overheads and profit and a contingency, are
summarised in the table alongside.
The steel portal frame option provides the
optimum build value at £664/m2, with the
and that service is being extended with
a new series of studies called Costing
Steelwork that will be published quarterly
There are potential pitfalls that can
trap the unwary when estimating costs of
structures which the new series and other
guidance already available aims to guide
Costing Steelwork is produced by
AECOM, the British Construction Steelwork
Association and Steel for Life. Each quarter
it will examine the key cost drivers for a
range of building types, providing a typespecific
cost comparison. A cost table will
indicate the ranges of costs for the main
alternative types of frame.
“The cost ranges will act as a benchmark
that can be used at all the stages of the
design,” explains Steel for Life’s Chris
Dolling. “We will ensure that the data is
always current through regular updates
that will be made freely available.”
A previous series of Steel Insight
studies focused on office buildings
only, but Costing Steelwork will deliver
guidance on a wider range of building
types. The series started with a focus on
the offices sector, with a detailed cost
model based on an office building that
has actually been built (see box on One
Kingdom Street), and the most recent
one looks at an industrial building
(see box on Prologis Park below).
The study looks at the process of cost
planning throughout the design stages,
and examines the key steel framing cost
drivers for office buildings.
Updates will provide the same insight
for education, mixed-use and retail
buildings, all based on actual projects
that have been completed.
Table of key costs (£/m2 GIFA), for Stoke-on-Trent distribution warehouse (Q4, 2017)
Elements Steel portal frame Glulam beams and
purlins supported on
glulam option being the least cost-efficient.
This is primarily due to the cost premium for
the structural members required to provide
the required spans, which are otherwise
efficiently catered for in the steelwork solution.
The consequence of having a hybrid option is
that the component elements are from
Steel portal frame with
Warehouse £70 £137 £81
Office £124 £165 £124
Total frame £72 £138 £83
Total building £664 £743 £712
different suppliers, which contributes to the
increases in cost.
The northlights option is directly comparable
with the portal frame in relation to the
warehouse and office frame; the variance is in
the roof framing. There is significantly more roof
framing to form the northlights.